Posted by Laura Foster (Contributor) on June 26th, 2017 at 10:30 am
E-bike Rentals in the Gorge
From Route 30 Classics in Mosier
- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April to October (later if the weather’s good)
- 18 years or older
- 8 bikes available
- No reservations taken
- Racks have bungees for tying down small items; if you bring lunch, carry it in a backpack.
Story by Laura O. Foster, author of Columbia Gorge Getaways.
(Please see note about legality of e-bikes on Gorge paths at end of this story. – Jonathan)
“Everybody comes back loving it,” says Stephen Demosthenes, about his new e-bike rental business in Mosier.
Stephen’s the longtime owner of Route 30 Classics on the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH). In the multi-preneurial way of Northwesterners, he sells vintage Porsches and tee shirts, serves ice cream, espresso and Mosier-made sandwiches (in season), and now rents e-bikes.
Stephen’s e-bikes are meant for pavement, not gravel or single-track. They give riders four levels of electric assist, shown by red bars on a handlebar gauge. “You can easily ride on one battery charge to The Dalles and back, if you [generally] keep the bike at two bars, riding in third or fourth gear,” he says. The Dalles is a 35-mile roundtrip ride, out and back on the HCRH.
Two excellent bike routes from his shop are: Historic Columbia River Highway east to Rowena Crest (13 miles roundtrip) or Mayer State Park (20 miles roundtrip).
This is my favorite stretch of the HCRH to bike or drive: far fewer people visit it than the highway’s waterfall section between Crown Point and Ainsworth State Park, and the scenery is unendingly spectacular, with the land transitioning into desert plateaus and canyons.
Bring food and drinks for a picnic at Mayer State Park.
East of downtown Mosier, pass seasonal fruit stands and the vineyards of Mayerdale, an estate developed in the 1910s by Markie Mayer, a wealthy Portlander. He built the colonial revival mansion you’ll pass (not open to the public). The beautifully maintained land is now part of Garnier Vineyards.
From there, keep east on the highway to Memaloose Overlook, and check out its namesake island in the Columbia. Memaloose means “place of the dead” in Chinook jargon. Native Americans in the gorge placed their deceased on river islands. As dams raised river levels and inundated much of the landmass of this and other islands, remains were re-interred in cemeteries around the gorge. But on this island, the remains of one white man weren’t moved. You can see his monument from the overlook.
Keep east to Rowena Crest, the arid, clifftop counterpoint to Crown Point on the west side of the Cascades. During the Missoula Floods 15,000 years ago, you’d have been underwater here.
From Rowena Crest, swoop downhill on the Rowena Loops, fantastic horseshoe curves, to the little community of Rowena.
From here, leave the HCRH, and turn left to bike under I-84 and onto Rowena River Road, to the quiet, waterfront Mayer State Park, land Markie Mayer donated to the state.
Watch windsurfers at the park’s east end, and if you’re hot, swim in the kolk pond at the park’s west end, near the old Rowena-to-Lyle ferry landing. A kolk depression is a landform created by the Missoula Floods: as floodwaters roared west along the Columbia River, they carved its valley here into vertical cliffs. The floodwaters’ ice, boulders, sand, and gravel swirled in underwater vortices that drilled circular depressions in the bedrock. This particular depression, at river level, is a great swimming pond. Other depressions, now bone dry, are atop Rowena Crest.
From the park, return via the HCRH to Mosier.
The other, more traveled route, probably most of it is carfree: Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH) west to Hood River downtown: 14 miles roundtrip, an out-and-back ride.
A few blocks west of the shop, the paved HCRH State Trail leaves Mosier, traveling west atop Columbia River cliffs. At trail’s end is the Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead visitor center: restrooms, snacks, tee shirts, and history.
Most people turn around and bike back from here, but you’re on an e-bike, so leave the visitor center and keep west, dropping downhill on the Highway’s swooping, smooth Hood River loops (and you’re now sharing the road with cars).
Cross the Hood River, and bike into town for some take out; eat at tables in Georgiana Smith Park (on Oak between 5th and 6th streets). Then cruise beautiful, shady old neighborhoods above downtown, or drop down via 2nd Street to the Columbia to bike riverfront trails. Stop at the Event Site to watch kiteboarders or at Hood River Waterfront Park where you can keep your eye on the bike while you wade or take a quick dip. If the west wind is blowing, no problem: you’ve got an electric assist.
On the return, as you glide uphill on the Hood River loops with three or four bars on your gauge, you may start thinking of buying your own e-bike when you get home.
NOTE: After posting this story we’ve learned that Oregon State Parks does not currently allow electric bicycles on State Trails. Oregon State Parks East Columbia River Gorge Park Manager David Spangler confirmed with us that e-bikes are still considered motor vehicles in Oregon law and therefore cannot be used on paved (or unpaved) trails designated for non-motorized use. We will post a separate story on this issue and we apologize for the misinformation and any confusion it might caused.