Thursday, 26 July 2012

Troutdale, OR

Bike path out of Cascade Locks

I'd been looking forward to today's 59 km ride because I knew it would be particularly beautiful, climbing up high and passing spectacular waterfalls. The route starts on a state trail (bike path), continues on the I-84, then goes for 40 km on the HCRH, which I wrote about three days ago. Work has begun on extending the bike path to eliminate the need to cycle on the I-84.

The state trail out of Cascade Locks ran for about 4 km until it reached a fish hatchery. Where to go from there? I explored every road and path around the complex junction except the correct one. At last I found a local person and he told me. Silly me had failed to notice that the freeway exit ramp with its large and prominent 'Do not enter' and 'Wrong way' signs carried a subsidiary sign saying 'except bike'. That was the way I had to go. It's obvious once you know.

It brought me to the infamous stairwell, where six flights of steps have to be climbed. There is a grooved ramp for bike wheels but pushing a fully-loaded touring bike up a 45 degree slope is beyond me. I removed the four panniers, carried them up the steps two at a time, then pushed the bike up and reloaded.

Multnomah Falls
As I rode along the I-84, I could see the first part of the bike path extension alongside. It is already usable for some way. Once on the HCRH, I wound my way slowly up the hill past one waterfall after another, each with its car park, viewing points, and walking trails. The highest is Multnomah Falls, with a drop of 189 m. It has a visitor centre, cafe, gift shop, and restrooms as well as the standard amenities.

Bike rack at Vista House
The road started to climb more seriously and took me into cloud. At Vista House, a 1913 rotunda near the summit celebrated for its views, there was no view at all.

The view from Vista House
The descent took me away from the Columbia. A new river, the Sandy, appeared on my left and I followed it to a crossing at the entrance to Troutdale. This is regarded as the endpoint of the gorge.

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