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Escape from Portland with this easy loop on quiet forest roads above Trout Lake

Posted by on June 27th, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Just 14 miles from the small town of Trout Lake (population 600), Goose Lake is a perfect place to stop for a mid-ride lunch.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

If you’re looking for a fun new place for a weekend riding getaway, consider checking out Trout Lake, Washington. I went there last weekend with my family and my 7-year-old and I brought our bikes. We enjoyed a great ride up to Goose Lake that has piqued my interest in doing more ambitious explorations and overnighters in the area.

The loop we did was fun and easy. About 17-miles up to the lake and then 14 miles back home on a more direct route. It was mostly all dirt roads on the way up as we rolled through a local tree farm and then took advantage of quiet dirt roads in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. On the way there we peered into the icy-cold “Cheese Cave” and climbed a gentle grade for about 1,000 feet. Goose Lake was a perfect place to enjoy lunch under towering pines as we enjoyed the views of the water and watched people fish for trout (it’s a stocked lake and a popular destination for anglers).

For the way down we opted to stay on the “main” road (Carson-Guler Road – NF 24). We stopped to play in the water at Dry Creek and then read a bit about the history of Peterson Prarie and George McClellan, who led an expedition through the area in 1853. If we had more time (and if my 7-year-old wasn’t eager to get back to play with his friend we came to visit), we would have stopped to check out the Ice Cave and Natural Bridges trails. I’ve checked those out on previous trips and they’re well worth the detour.


The last part of the ride was a smooth descent into Trout Lake. Everett loved coasting fast and I loved riding right at the base of Mt. Adams through forests and farms. The Trout Lake General Store is a cool spot to check out for a snack or drink before heading back to your car or campsite (or AirBnB or friend’s house, whatever the case may be).

I’ll definitely be headed back for more riding in this area. There are tons of great roads to explore and Trout Lake is a sweet little town to start from.

If you need any more inspiration, this weekend also happens to be the annual Mt. Adams Country Bicycle Tour.

You can see our route details via Ride With GPS.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

  • Gary B June 28, 2018 at 7:26 am

    JM! My hero! We’re spending 4 days in Trout Lake next week (as we do every year), and literally last night were trying to think of something different, fun, and family-friendly to do. Thank you!

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  • Mike Quigley June 28, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Don’t you realize that the best way to ruin a place is to publicize it?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 28, 2018 at 8:42 am

      hi Mike,

      I generally don’t subscribe to that theory… It just feels so exclusive and selfish. What ruins places are people who don’t respect the land and the locals the way they should.

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      • Zimmerman June 28, 2018 at 11:23 am

        Has MQ ever added a single comment that wasn’t negative? Has he ever posted a comment that had any value, to anyone, ever?

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        • Mike Quigley June 29, 2018 at 5:42 am

          Oh, heck. I’m lucky to get my two-bits worth in occasionally. Usually I just get censored.

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    • Doug Hecker June 28, 2018 at 10:24 am

      While in many applications I would agree, TL could handle a few more visitors. As someone who has a family home in TL, I would say that you should visit before more development changes your current idea of it. out of all of the mountains around, thankfully Adams has the least amount of restrictions this people can actually be free and enjoy plenty of quietness. I’d also argue that the Goose Lake ride is fun, plenty of orhers exist. I like riding from TL to Glenwood myself with a stop to see Outlet Falls for lunch.

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      • Doug Hecker June 28, 2018 at 10:35 am


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    • Nick W. June 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      As much as I don’t like to roll out to “my” campsite to find people already there, I try to remember that public lands belong to all of us. In the long run isn’t it a societal good to have people enjoying our lands for sustainable recreation rather than believing the only wise use is extractive?
      I tend to think that there’s enough nature in the American west to go around.

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  • Middle of the Road Guy June 28, 2018 at 9:35 am

    The Mt Adams ride is very nice, though the route is disjointed due to a road closure.

    If I can get my ass out of bed early enough, I’m doing it.

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  • Christopher June 28, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Looks fantastic. I’d love to ride this route with my kid!

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  • Pete S. June 28, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Nice work! That’s a seriously impressive ride for a seven-year-old.

    I don’t think I went on a ride that long until I was in my twenties!

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  • Pete June 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    It’s a great event and good cause. I’m sad to miss joining several Portland friends for this year’s.

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  • joeb
    joeb June 28, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I’m headed there tomorrow for the Mt. Adams Country Bicycle Tour on Saturday 🙂 I’ve never been there. I plan to take the bus to Cascade Locks and hope the road from there to Trout Lake is good for biking.

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    • Pete June 29, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      If you bike across Bridge of the Gods (because you can’t bike across the Hood River Bridge), there are sketchy tunnels on 14 where you’ll have to take the lane, and serious climbing to get up 141. If you can do all that before the ride, MUCHO kudos to you!

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    • Pete June 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Oh, and you’ll likely have a helluva headwind riding back!

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  • Peter Hedman July 2, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Nice one Jonathan. Knobbies recommended or would a fat semi-smooth tire do ok? Looks to be mostly buffed-out…

    Would love to do this with the kiddo on our tandem!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 2, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Hi Peter. You’ll be fine with fat, smooth tires. It’s mostly luxury gravel, but there are some spots with looser, chunky stuff where you won’t be happy w typical roadie tires. Have fun!

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  • Johnny Bye Carter July 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Wow, my idea of an easy loop is nowhere near what this article is about. I didn’t see the URL and assumed this was a local lake.

    My easy loop doesn’t include a 91 mile ride (or 85 mile car ride) to get to it, and then the same to get back. And my kid, that’s a few years older than yours, would think 31 miles was crazy for one day. That’s about my max, so I doubt he’d make it.

    It sounds like you may have been camping. This looks like a great idea if you’ve already driven there to camp, have room to bring bikes, and get permission to spend all day away from the rest of the family. If my kid had gone there to visit a friend there’s no way I’d get him away for 6.5 hours.

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  • Jim T July 9, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I love the Trout Lake area, though never explored it by bike. Thanks for posting a kid-friendly adventure!

    Although I am seriously impressed at a 7 year old who can ride this distance and elevation! My kids are great bike riders but nowhere near that level yet. Nice job!!!

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