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hyegeek 10-17-13 02:45 PM

John Wayne vs. the Columbia
I'm in the planning stage of a cross Washington trip. The plan is to cross the Columbia river somewhere around where the John Wayne trail meets the Iron Horse trail. I can't find anything that looks like a reasonable option. The trail is gated off and it does not look like you can cross the near by dam (at least not since 911). The I90 appears to be the option I've seen mentioned the most often, but doing that on a bike takes more courage than I think I have.

Has anyone around here succeeded in getting across in this area?

adventurepdx 10-18-13 10:38 AM

As far as I know, there's no crossing near there other than the I-90 (Vantage) Bridge.

Do you intend to ride the John Wayne Trail east of the Columbia?

hyegeek 10-18-13 10:43 AM

Yep. The plan is to start in Post Falls Idaho and ride through Spokane, down the fish lake trail to the Columbia Plateau trail to the John Wayne trail. We have a pretty good idea of route and conditions until we get to Warden, after that things get complicated until we get across the Columbia River.

toolbear 10-18-13 11:18 AM


Originally Posted by hyegeek (Post 16171425)
Yep. The plan is to start in Post Falls Idaho and ride through Spokane, down the fish lake trail to the Columbia Plateau trail to the John Wayne trail. We have a pretty good idea of route and conditions until we get to Warden, after that things get complicated until we get across the Columbia River.


Have you checking in with the DNR on doing that portion east of the Columbia? I understand their approval and support are needed. It's pretty much all locked gates and ballast for road bed over there. Last account I read on doing the Columbia Plateau Trail - below the Martin trailhead - was done by a guy on a Surly with 4" wide tires, doing about 8 MPH. You are good to Martin Rd., then the adventure begins.

The John Wayne west of the river is a trail. East of the river it's an adventure/expedition. I would love to hear about the trip. Most of the pix I see from that section show people walking. However, I did see a video of a gang of roadies getting a geology briefing by Rock Lake. It inspired.

This spring, coming back from the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, I swung by the bottom of Rock Lake to see if I could... Nope. Two lane road. No shoulder. Fenced. Gate locked. All the trailheads, info kiosks, restrooms, on-trail campsites, parking lots, etc. are west of the river.

Take a look at the TrailLink pages on the CPT and JWPT and check out the pix. The CPT info is more applicable to your trip.


Good luck. I'd love to do the section in Rosalia with those concrete bridges or the trestle section of the CPT by Winddust Campground..

hyegeek 10-18-13 11:27 AM

We are aware of the need to contact the DNR, but we are not yet to that point in our planning. There's another blog (beside the guy with 4" tires) from a trip last year. It actually has a bit more information on conditions etc. Unfortunately, those guys hopped the fence on the bridge (something I'm not inclined to do).

One of the reasons for looking at the route connecting to the John Wayne at the Columbia plateau is because things get at lot rougher as you get by Rock Lack etc. I plan on a couple of exploratory rides through that area before the trip.

toolbear 10-18-13 09:24 PM

It should be an interesting project.

Tell us how it goes. Got a link to the recent blog?

hyegeek 10-18-13 09:31 PM

Here's the blog I found.

scozim 10-18-13 10:20 PM

I-90 at Vantage is the easiest, but scariest route. I've ridden it a couple of times going east which is uphill. I always try to do it on a weekday and early in the morning. Are you planning to ride on loaded touring bikes? I did a 4 day tour in central Washington this past summer and stayed at Potholes State Park one night. If you don't mind going a little south I would do the route I did and cross the Columbia at the Vernita Bridge and then into Yakima on Hwy 24 and up the Yakima River Canyon on Hwy 821.

PM if you want some more information on the roads I took. 1bluetrek lives in Warden and can probably give you more info on that area.

hyegeek 10-19-13 07:50 AM

We will have fully loaded mountain bikes and maybe a trailer.

I've looked at the route over Vernita Bridge and it looks every bit as scary as I90 and with only 1 lane, the traffic (including large trucks) has little leeway to give room. The only advantage of that route appears to be that the bridge is much shorter. Also getting back to our route after the bridge does not look trivial.

woodway 10-19-13 07:47 PM

As far as crossing the river...Vantage is probably the best bad option.

You should also read the blog linked by the thread here...really well done.

hyegeek 10-19-13 07:55 PM

Thanks. I've read that one too.

It is starting to sound like we are going to want to have someone meet us and shuttle us across. Unless we get across early enough on a weekend, I can't imagine even giving it a try.

NVanHiker 10-20-13 01:02 PM

Sounds like a great trip. I can't contribute much here except that I have crossed the I-90 bridge westbound. The I-90 has nice wide shoulders and is really fun to bike - EXCEPT the bridge. Just keep in mind that the shoulder-less portion is only .7 mile, about three minutes. The shoulder picks up again while you are still over the water. Check the wind sock, check your mirror, turn on the blinkies, relax, and just do it. The lanes are quite wide.

hyegeek 10-20-13 03:36 PM

Thanks. It helps to hear from someone who's actually ridden it in the direction we will be going. I'm expecting that the wind will probably be a harsh side wind. Is that what you experienced?

NVanHiker 10-20-13 04:11 PM

It was ok that day. I was touring on my steel 40-pounder with loaded rear panniers. I find touring rigs are so much more stable in crosswinds and truck turbulence than twitchy road bikes.

hyegeek 10-20-13 04:33 PM

My steel steed is only 30lbs, but the panniers should be pretty loaded for this trip. Where I do most of my riding, a road bike is not an option. Road bikes and gravel just don't get along.

The wind on the eastern portion of this trip is something that sounds like it can really change the quality of the ride. I know the number of miles I'm planning in the terrain are within reach. Once you add in the wind (usually headwind the time/direction we will be travelling), things can really interesting.

Black wallnut 10-21-13 03:44 PM

I've crossed at Vantage twice going east. I've driven across it both ways in all kinds of weather more times than I can count in vehicles of all sizes. The closer to spring you get the higher the odds are it will be windy, in excess of 30 mph in the afternoon. On the bridge as mentioned there is no shoulder. I've done both my crossings on weekend mid day. Both times traffic was mild and respectful.

Vernita Bridge actually has shoulders and much less traffic as well as is pretty short.

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