We are less than three weeks away from the opening of a new segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail: A 3.3 mile carfree path that offers stunning views of the Gorge. In fact, path users will have the opportunity to take in vistas that have been nearly impossible to see outside an automobile for over a century.
“This section is a vital piece in the Historic Highway State Trail.”
— Terra Lingley, ODOT
The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to host a ribbon-cutting event and host a group bike ride on the $19 million project August 3rd. The path took over two years to complete and it goes from Wyeth (at the Gorton Creek Trailhead near milepost 51) to Lindsey Creek. “It is a major undertaking including a trail around Shellrock Mountain on top of the existing bin wall, a 500’ Summit Creek Viaduct (bridge over land), and the Lindsey Creek Bench Cut,” reads ODOT’s website.
“This section is a vital piece in the Historic Highway State Trail – it provides a separated route around Shellrock Mountain, where I-84’s shoulder is the narrowest, and connects with previously-built segments further east for a roughly 6-mile continuous route,” ODOT’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator Terra Lingley told us via email today. “This trail will allow cyclists and hikers to slow down, take in the sights (both Wind and Dog Mountains are visible from a number of ‘rest and pause’ areas), and reconnect with a part of the Gorge that is hard to see outside of a vehicle.”
This new section is west of a 1.2 mile section completed in September 2016 and it puts us just five miles away from completion of the 73-mile route that will eventually give bicycle riders the ability to go between Troutdale and Hood River without using Highway 84.
Unlike other recently completed parts of the State Trail, this new section will be easily visible by drivers on I-84. It runs adjacent to the highway just east of Wyeth and is sure to be looked at with envy by everyone behind the wheel of an automobile. Here’s what ODOT says about the path:
“These structures will honor our past and their design will integrate into the Gorge landscape and history. Skilled rock masons will reflect the original craftsmanship by using their skills passed down through generations to construct elegant new rock walls.”
You can be one of the first to ride and see the new path at the dedication ceremony on August 3rd at the Gorton Creek Trailhead. The event will begin at 10:00 am and the path will be open for walking and rolling from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. There will also be a group bicycle ride that will leave from the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks at 9:00 am. See the ODOT project page for details.
The next big piece of the puzzle — the Mitchell Point segment — is already funded and queued up for construction in spring 2020. That will be the final five miles.
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