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PSU students lead project to use bike trails as economic booster in the Gorge

Posted by on March 8th, 2012 at 10:12 am

A view of the Bridge of the Gods
from Thunder Island in the Marine Park.
(Photos: Celilo Planning Studio)

A group of planning students at Portland State University need your help on an ambitious project that could lead to much better bicycling in the Columbia River Gorge.

The project, ‘Connect Cascade Locks’ is a joint effort between six students in PSU’s vaunted Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program (who call themselves Celilo Planning Studio) and the Port of Cascade Locks. The goal is to create a “regionally integrated” network of recreational trails that will help boost economic development in the community of Cascade Locks (about 43 miles east of Portland).

The project team on a recent
site visit to a trailhead.

Sara Morrissey, the communications person for Celilo Planning Studio, says the project will focus on both existing trails (like Trail 400, the new EasyCLIMB mountain bike trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail) as well as the forthcoming, 25-mile off-road trail network we shared more about last year.

Last month, the PSU students joined Cascade Locks locals and a representative from the Tourism Commission for an up-close look at existing conditions. They walked across the ‘Bridge of the Gods,’ surveyed roadway interchanges, and hiked around the Pacific Crest Trail to get a better understanding of where and how biking and walking access could be improved.

In addition to the mountain bike trail network already in the works, the Port of Cascade Locks has won an FHWA grant to study improved bike access on the ‘Bridge of the Gods’ and, a few miles to the west, the State of Oregon has broken ground on 1.6 miles of a new trail.

The project team (L to R): Chloe
Ritter, Sarah Bronstein, Michael Ahillen,
Danielle Fuchs, Sara Morrissey,
Ellen Dorsey.

At this point, the PSU students need your help! They have launched an online survey to learn more about how people use existing trails and routes in the Gorge.

There’s exciting momentum afoot in the Gorge and this project could be the key piece that brings it all together. Please check out to learn more, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and remember to take the survey and share it with your friends.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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“The project, ‘Connect Cascade Locks’ is a joint effort between six students in PSU’s vaunted Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program (who call themselves Celilo Planning Studio) and the Portland of Cascade Locks.”

Jonathan, I think you mean Port of Cascade Locks.

Nevertheless, this sounds like an interesting project.

And I know the focus is Portland-Cascade Locks, but it would also be interesting to see a Cascade Locks-Hood River focus sometime. This area has the biggest gap in the Historic Columbia River Highway bike path, which means cyclists have to ride on the shoulder of I-84 for quite some time.


A safe bike/ped path across the Bridge of the Gods, especially one with a small pull-off area where you could stop and enjoy the beautiful view up the Columbia River, would be priceless.

Good luck, MURPs!


All this would be great. Bike tourism could be a HUGE draw for the Gorge if the facilities were improved.

The new trail segment (helping cyclists avoid a narrow-shoulder section of I-84) is absolutely the top priority. But as much as I would love to see improvements on Bridge of the Gods, for me the absolute next priority would be to study the feasibility of a bikeway (or scheduled shuttle service) over the Hood River bridge — where, unlike Bridge of the Gods, bikes are prohibited outright.

Chris I
Chris I

Once trail networks like this are developed, I think it would be interesting if Columbia Area Transit ran a Portland to Cascade Locks/Hood River shuttle on the weekend, a few times per day with capacity for bikes.

Matt H
Matt H

This is a great idea. If there were more interesting routes between Portland and Hood River via bicycle (especially mountain bike routes), I’d personally be all over them and be spending cash in the adjacent towns regularly. As it stands now – Cascade locks, etc. hardly ever gets any of my cash.


Love all the possibilities for bike tourism here, especially if a PDX shuttle connection is created. Very exciting to have the Port, PSU, City of Cascade Locks all working with FHWA money. Great partnerships!