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Columbia River Gorge?

Old 10-13-13, 11:06 AM
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Columbia River Gorge?

During planing of my Oregon Coast tour, ODOT sent me a brochure for the Columbia River Gorge. I must say it sparked my interest. It looks awesome. Has anybody done this? Is it as good as it looks?

It does not look all that long. What is the total distance for a round trip from Portland? Are there side trip options to extend the trip? Please note that I will not be camping so that should be considered in suggestions for side trips.

What is the best time of year? I typically tour in September but the brochure boasts some of the awesome waterfalls and I would be concerned that they might not be as impressive by September. Though I would like to avoid rain as much as possible.
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Old 10-13-13, 11:46 AM
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July, August tend to be drier.. some years September too..

Columbia Gorge , on the river, is also popular amongst wind surfers, so bear that in mind .
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Old 10-13-13, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
July, August tend to be drier.. some years September too..

Columbia Gorge , on the river, is also popular amongst wind surfers, so bear that in mind .
I'm considering a R/T so I guess preferred direction of travel is moot but what is the prevailing wind? Or does it change through the day? If so what directions at what times?

And as far as drier, when do the falls start drying up or do they?
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Old 10-13-13, 12:23 PM
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Generalization.. the east side of the Cascades is hotter than the west side, and hot air rises ,

cooler air tends to come in and replace it, so in this case the winds are from the West..

Im out on the coast, afternoons tend to be windier , on shore than mornings, summer From NW
winter from SW

Hood River and the Dalles are the places you can look up local information about the area ..
try weather.gov, and the local tourist info sites.

Mt Hood is snow capped and the meltwater will last into the summer, to an extent..

in the winter the eastern Oregon counties are colder , but the weather systems
dont tend to Ice up the Estuary .. though it does happen every couple years..
the Gorge is as a funnel, then to bring the cold air mass westward ,for snow on the beach. ..

the Columbia river kept cutting through the mountains as they rose ,
in the ages past, from continental drift and volcanism..
most other places the mountains rose and the rivers were re directed.

So you have passes to climb to get over them..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-13-13 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 10-13-13, 01:17 PM
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It is worth the ride!

The winds are predominately westerly, but there are occassional east wind "events".

I've never seen the falls "dry up", but they obviously run more water in the spring and early summer. They are pretty spectacular in the winter too, especially Multnomah Falls when the temps dip below freezing.

I have not ridden it in quite a while, and I believe more of the old highway has been restored. This reduces or totally eliminates the amount of time spent on I-84. Riding on I-84 for short distances is not a big deal. I used to live just north of Hood River in Washington and would ride to Portland regularly to meet my wife and kids at my inlaws. I'd use a combination of I-84 and the Old Columbia Highway for the rides back home.

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transp...article/322030

Another factor that had a huge inlfluesnce on the geology of the gorge is when the ice dam at Lake Missoula broke and scoured a path to the Pacific Ocean. If you know what you are looking for you can still see the "high water" mark on the canyon walls.

http://www.glaciallakemissoula.org/story.html

As Fietsbob said, the wind is what makes Hood River such a popular wind sufing mecca. This happens to be an west wind. Do a serch for "wind surfing prevailing winds at Hood River", and I'll be you can get more than you ever wanted to know about the winds in the Gorge.




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Old 10-13-13, 04:10 PM
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Thanks for comments on the wind. I suppose when heading west just plan for shorter days.

How long is the loop? And what are some good options for side trips?
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Old 10-13-13, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Thanks for comments on the wind. I suppose when heading west just plan for shorter days.

How long is the loop? And what are some good options for side trips?
Depends how far you want to go up. The Portland Wheelmen (ptwc.com) does a 4 day Memorial Day ride that goes ~200 miles; 100 miles up the WA side and then back on the OR side. Crosses over at US97 (Marysville/Biggs) and believe that covers the National Scenic Area zone. I remember some little stops along the way, e.g. at vineyards. When I lived in Portland, I also did the ride a few times to continue following the river to the Tri Cities and then got a one-way car rental from the airport there.
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Old 10-13-13, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Thanks for comments on the wind. I suppose when heading west just plan for shorter days.

How long is the loop? And what are some good options for side trips?
Spinnaker,

I did not mean to "over emphasize" the winds. Sure, the wind in the Gorge can be fierce, but there are plenty of days when wind will not be an issue. You can get a pretty accurate short-term forcast before you start the ride, so you will know what you are getting into.

It is approximately 70 miles from Portland to Hood River. It is essentially an out and back unless you want to cross the Columbia, and ride Washington Hwy14 back. It is not an especially fun road to ride.

Possible points of interest: Crown Point, Multnomeh Falls, Bonneville dam if they are still giving tours, and Bonneville fish hatchery if you want to see some really big,old sturgeon. I enjoyed watching some of those ships get through the locks at the dam.

Almost all side trips in the Gorge are uphill!

A nice, approximately, 170 mile loop is: Portland-Hood River-south on Hwy 35 UP to Government Camp- DOWN Hwy 26 to Portland.

It is a beautiful ride in the summer, essentailly circumnavigating Mt. Hood.

You might wanat to look at it on Mapmyride to get an idea of the topography.

I've ridden most of the loop except the last 50 miles down into Portland. Due to a major miscalculation on my hill climbing ability, I reached Govenment Camp at about 4:30 pm on a cold Saturday in March. There was a 12' vertical wall of mellting snow lining the shoulders of the road, and the ski areas were about to close for the day, turning loose a thousand skiiers. I calculated my odds of making it down the hill successfully, and didn't especially like the odds. I called my wife who was in Portland at her folks place, and told her I'd buy her dinner if she'd pick me up. I've used this tactic before, and knew it would work if the drive was not too far.

Last edited by Doug64; 10-14-13 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 10-13-13, 05:44 PM
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I usually do about 400 miles on a week to 10 day tour. Is there 400 miles R/T of worthy riding?
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Old 10-13-13, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Spinnaker,

It is a beautiful ride in teh summer, essentailly circumnavigating Mt. Hood.
So Mt. Hood might be a way to extend the trip?
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Old 10-13-13, 07:27 PM
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Mt Hood is right on the route. It is a tough 8-mile climb to Timberline Lodge and Ski area, but worth it.

If we knew what your objectives are, and if this is a CC or self-supported tour, it would help us make better route recommendations. Also, it would be good to know how much you like or dislike hills

This is a potentail route which I have not ridden in its entirety on any single trip, However I have ridden many segments of it at one time or another, and am familiar with the parts I have not ridden. I have driven them several times looking at the roads through a biker's eyes.

Actually, the only part that I have not ridden is from the top of the Old Mckenzie Highway west to the Junction with Highway 22. However, I've ridden up to the top of the Old Mkenzie twice from the east side.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/308547667

This will take you through a nice part of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, to Mt. Hood, down into eastern Oregon's high desert and grasslands, back up the Cascades from Bend on the Old Mckenzie Highway, to Salem, and then north through the Willamette Valley to PDX.

Near the top of the Old Mckenzie.

Last edited by Doug64; 10-14-13 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:02 PM
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As mentioned above it will be a credit card tour.

I am not a big fan of hills but I do them. Just did the Oregon coast, south of Lincoln City to Arcata. I managed fairly well till I hit the CA border. The ride out of Klamath to Trinidad exhausted me but I think I would have been OK if it were not for the wasted trip up to old 101 just to find it closed, turn around and have to make the climb again up new 101.

I did the Selkirk Loop a few years back, north of Spokane up into BC. If the climbs are similar then no big deal. There were only two that were really tough, a short steep one outside of Kelso and another short steep one just outside of New Denver.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:10 PM
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Yes, I remeber the discussion on your coast trip.

If I remeber correctly, you did not think too much of my recommendations on that tour, so you might want to get a second opinion on these.

Look at the elevation profile on Mapmyride link above. It is a hilly ride going over 2-3, 5,000 foot passes. The elevation profile is not showing up. I'll see if I can fix it. The climbs are not especially hard, just long.

This is from Hood River to Mt Hood. It is cimbing for most of the day.
http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/308563707


Same from Bend to Highway 22 heading for Salem.
http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/308564671

Last edited by Doug64; 10-14-13 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I usually do about 400 miles on a week to 10 day tour. Is there 400 miles R/T of worthy riding?
I would say yes there is plenty of great options for a 400 mile round trip tour starting in Portland and going through the Gorge. But you said you don't especially like hills, so there's not a whole heck of a lot to recommend in "flatter" tours that go through the Gorge (or really anywhere else in Oregon). You could keep on riding east along the Columbia until you reach a good point to get transportation back, like the Tri-Cities. But once you get beyond the National Scenic Area which ends just east of The Dalles it's...not as scenic. Also, there ain't a heck of a lot of services between The Dalles and the Tri-Cities, which would make things difficult for credit card touring.

If you do want to put up hills, there's plenty of decent riding around Central Oregon.
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Old 10-14-13, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Sure, the wind in the Gorge can be fierce, but there are plenty of days when wind will not be an issue.
+1. In 2005 Cycle Oregon headed east for a while through the Gorge from Biggs Junction (U.S. 97) to the Dalles and to Rooster Rock. The ride did not sell out that year. One reason several people cited was the fact that the headwinds winds would be horrible. They were not anywhere close to horrible.
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