Bike from Hood River to The Dalles
Rate this Adventure Oregon › Old Columbia River Dr Parking (Hood River)
Added by Michael Graw
This is 20 miles (one-way) of the best road biking in Oregon. Traverse the dry side of the Columbia River Gorge along the historic highway, summiting Rowena Crest and gaining expansive views of the gorge and peeks at Mount Hood and Mount Adams.
The ride from Hood River to The Dalles is one of the best 20 mile stretches of road biking in Oregon, and arguably the best. The ride starts out in the wonderful town of Hood River - a tourist and adventure destination in its own right - and follows the historic Columbia River Gorge highway (US-30) east. The ride features stunning, in-your-face views of the Columbia River Gorge for most of its length. In spring, the route is flanked by spectacular wildflower displays, and in fall by colored foliage and crisp, falling leaves.
While this ride is great for casual riders, it's best suited for more advanced cyclists. The route is tough, but fast - steep climbs are followed by steep descents, the roads are smooth, and traffic is low to moderate. The few "flat" (that is, less steep) sections are ideal stretches for practicing your time trial pace.
The best place to start the ride is at the small parking lot across from the China Gorge Restaurant, at the intersection of US-30 and OR-35. Parking here is free (unlike downtown Hood River), but spaces are limited - if the lot is full, drive up the hill on US-30 a bit to search for more spaces.
In a preview of more to come, this ride starts out with a heavy climb up switchbacking curves - but thankfully it's only a brief warm-up (~0.75 miles). Beyond the top of the hill, you'll enter the Mark O. Hatfield Trail, a roughly 5-mile stretch of smooth, car-free descent. Just be sure to keep a check on your speed through this section, as there are a number of blind corners and the trail is popular with runners and pedestrians as well.
At the end of the trail, turn left and then left again (following signs) to enter Mosier and rejoin US-30. Mosier's cafe is the last food and water until The Dalles, and as soon as you leave Mosier the real climbing starts - it's uphill until you reach the summit at Rowena Crest. There are no shoulders throughout this section and many curves, but the traffic is often low; just take caution as for any road ride.
The views at the summit of Rowena Crest make the effort all worth it. Look across the gorge to glimpse the top of Mount Adams in Washington, or look back at Mount Hood towering over the Hood River valley. Casual riders are best off turning around here, since the climb up the east face of Rowena Crest is pretty intense. But for advanced riders this is the best part of the entire ride - the big descent! You'll shoot down S-curves that are the stuff of cycling dreams, losing all the elevation you've gained over the past half hour in minutes. At the bottom, your time-trial begins: the remainder of the ride to the turnaround point is nearly flat and more protected from the wind than at any other point in the ride.
The turnaround point is at the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center at the edge of The Dalles. For food and water, continue on into The Dalles. For a longer ride, I suggest looking at the Race Across Oregon route - which begins in The Dalles and which you'll overlap with as you begin the ride back before it breaks off the highway to the south. Good luck climbing back up the steep side of Rowena!
The last, best part of this ride is that it ends in Hood River - one of the best towns in Oregon for post-adventure refreshment. My favorite brewery is Pfreim Family Brewing, down on the waterfront, but it's hard to go wrong with Full Sail, Double Mountain, or Big Horse if you plan to walk around the downtown area. And for morning riders, Bette's Place cafe has an unbeatable breakfast menu (and coffee!).
- Bike - bring your own or rent a road bike from Discover Bicycles in Hoods River
- Helmet (ALWAYS wear a helmet!)
- Flat kit
- Water, extra in the summer
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