Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 12th, 2007 at 9:13 am
Ever wanted to pack up your bike, leave your worries behind, and take off for the open road on a multi-day riding adventure?
If so, now is the perfect time to give it a try. We live in a place with multitudes of bike-camping options. Whether it’s a jaunt to the coast, or an excursion to the rivers and foothills of the Cascades, you will not be disappointed.
And the best part is that no car is required. There are many possibilities If you’re not quite up to pedaling 100% of the way, you can hop on a bus or use the MAX for a nice head start.
Below is a mini-guide to some excellent bike-camping options that you can do from Portland (some of these blurbs were originally published in an article I wrote for the Willamette Week’s 2005 Summer Guide).
Oxbow Regional Park
Oxbow Park is nestled in the hills above the Sandy River a mere 25 miles from downtown Portland. In addition to wooded camping areas, the park boasts old-growth redwoods and an impressive collection of wild critters. Depending on your fitness level (or lack thereof), you can get there via the Springwater Corridor Trail or by hitching a ride on the MAX to the east end of the Blue Line. Work your way to Division Street and follow the signs to the park. 3010 NE Oxbow Parkway, Gresham, 663-4708. Oxbow Website
To the Coast: Astoria, Manzanita, Three Capes Area
The City of Portland website offers detailed maps of three great coastal routes: Astoria via Vernonia; to Manzanita via Hwy 26 and the Lower Nehalem River Road; and to the Three Capes Area via the awesome Nestucca River Road (see below for more).
Nestucca River Road
From the Hillsboro MAX terminus, you can also reach the Nestucca River Road, nirvana for any cyclist who appreciates low-traffic, high-beauty back roads.
From the small rural town of Carlton (south of Forest Grove) you’ll pick up Meadow Lake Road and soon be spinning west along the Nestucca River, wondering why you’ve never done this before. It’s about 20 miles from Carlton to Dovre Campground, where you can sleep for the night. Dovre Campground info: (503) 815-1100.
Ainsworth State Park
A few miles northeast of Multnomah Falls, amid a rushing waterfall wonderland, Ainsworth State Park is ready to indulge your bike-camping habit. Channel your inner Lance and ride the 40 miles from Portland via Marine Drive and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Or take the MAX Blue line to Gresham and shave off a few miles. If you’ve got the energy, Ainsworth is also a gateway to some stellar hiking.
Ride in the direction of our postcard peak, Mount Hood, and get to know the mighty Clackamas River. From the old logging town of Estacada southeast of Portland, it’s only 15 miles east on Highway 224 to Armstrong Campground. Be sure to explore the four-mile off-highway side trip at North Fork Reservoir. With a relatively short ride into camp, you might have time to enjoy some river rafting – just remember to lock up your bikes before leaving camp. Armstrong Campground info: (503) 668-1700.
If you’ve got route suggestions, links to maps and other resources, or just want to share your bike-camping adventures, feel free to share in the comments.