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Riding the newest section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (Photo Gallery)

Posted by on November 14th, 2019 at 2:14 pm

The section between Wyeth and Lindsey create is a stunning testament to carfree infrastructure. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation gets a lot of heat from BikePortland. And deservedly so. After all, ODOT behaves more like a private highway construction company and a statewide driving and trucking advocacy group than stewards of our transportation system.

But when it comes to special projects like the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, they seem like an entirely different agency. This is an exciting and inspiring project that — despite its vast complexity and cost — continues to move forward at a respectable pace.

I sampled the newest segment of it with my 8-year-old son on Saturday. I was not disappointed.

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Opened just three months ago, the 3.3 mile-long stretch from Wyeth to Lindsey Creek winds through classic Gorge landscapes on what is easily some of the highest quality carfree transportation infrastructure anywhere in the Oregon. Highlights include a 500 foot viaduct over Summit Creek and an elevated section around Shellrock Mountain that offers stunning views up and down the Columbia River Gorge.

It’s obvious that ODOT takes a lot of pride in this project. The setting of this path alone would have made it an amazing place to ride, so the quality of the construction and choice of materials is icing on the cake.

We parked at Wyeth trailhead which has plenty of spaces, bathrooms, a fix-it station and a good map on the main sign. We rode east until we got to Hole-in-the-Wall falls, then we rode back to Wyeth. Along the way we stopped at overlooks (including one that goes off-road to a cliff overlooking the river) and contemplated the geologic and social history of the Gorge.

The only negative thing I can say about this new path is all the smelly and noisy cars and trucks on I-84. Some sections are directly adjacent to the highway. But that’s a relatively minor nitpick. I highly recommend getting out there as soon as you can!

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

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ugh
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ugh

“We parked at Wyeth trailhead which has plenty of spaces…”

“The only negative thing I can say about this new path is all the smelly and noisy cars and trucks on I-84.”

eyeroll, lulz, etc.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Many families who would consider riding from home to this new trail section, choose not to because the route in question (especially between Troutdale and Multnomah Falls) is quite dangerous. I would love i it were possible to ride out here with my kids.

ugh
Guest
ugh

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/anti-natalists-childfree-population-climate-change

People drive there, because it is unsafe to bike there, because people are driving there. Got it.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I get what you are trying to do here, but in this case, your smarmy insight is actually wrong. Driving to this trailhead is entirely on I-84, while the bike route is on the old highway. If our leaders prioritized trail building and traffic calming on the old highway, more cyclists would be using it to access the Gorge.

Shaming families for car use isn’t going to endear anyone to your cause. Try stepping out of your bubble for a few seconds.

dwk
Guest
dwk

ugh has a point…. Maybe this site should lay off the constant anti-car rhetoric if you don’t want to be called a hypocrite.
If it is fine for J maus to drive a car to Hood River for pleasure (and it is), stop complaining about people driving cars to work.
It sounds hypocritical because it is….

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I think you need a refresher on Car Clown Behavior:

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/04/22/curing-your-clown-like-car-habit/

dwk
Guest
dwk

I don’t even know what your point is…. If you all want to argue that driving your cars for pleasure is fine but everyone else is wrong , go ahead, but I would just stop digging.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Of course driving to work happens a lot more often than driving for pleasure, so in terms of the overall impact, reduction in driving for commuting purposes seems like more of a priority. The reason people drive cars as often as they do in Portland is because cars are the most convenient means of getting from point A to point B here. Whereas in a city like Tokyo, the most convenient means of getting from point A to point B are train and walking/biking. Make non-car means of transportation more convenient and safer (and thereby make the car less convenient because it is a zero-sum game) and fewer people will drive. I don’t wish to put words in Jonathan Maus’ mouth, but I suspect that his anti-car tone is both in terms of individual behavior and the system as a whole. In the system we currently have, it’s oftentimes inevitable that driving needs to happen, but you can criticize the system and work towards changing it while recognizing the need to work within it in the meantime until the necessary changes occur. Working towards reducing the instances where we even need to drive seems hardly hypocritical. I don’t want to downplay the role that individuals play but systemic change is more impactful.

dwk
Guest
dwk

This site could spend more time telling how people can get around easier and faster on bicycles instead of cars, instead of telling people to not drive cars which is not working.
I am also a responsible car owner I think, 5000 miles last year on my car and 6000 miles on my bike.
I ride a bike almost everywhere in town year around because it saves me time.
Simple as that.
That is the message.
The car traffic is worst than ever in Portland and cycling is declining…
Whatever the city and this site is doing, it is not working at all.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

My sister and I checked out a portion of the new trail on Monday…stiff east winds made the return to Wyeth a bit easier than the ride east. You have some fine views…across the River to Wind and Dog Mountains and up and down River at several points. The Shellrock Mt. section is right next to old highway stone walls. But it sure is loud!…ear plugs in order or wish for a closure of some kind on I-84. We need more of this kind of infrastructure…like along the Willamette in N. Portland!

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Fabulous pics, JM!

Christian
Guest
Christian

It’s very exciting that this trail is open. A few weeks back I, for the first time ever, was able to ride from The Dalles to Beaverton with only 5 miles on 84. Can’t wait for the last segment. Not only did I feel generally safe , but the Gorge in fall may be one of the most scenic places on Earth. I would really love to see the road between horsetail falls and crown point shifted from being an open road to a bike, hike and bus only. Probably a pipe dream but it would become one of the most amazing rides in the country.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Major kudos – those 5 miles on I-84 are a beeatch! Am also cheering on ODOT to figure out that connector…

Pete
Guest
Pete

Do be mindful of the black ice patches caused by the chilly Chinook winds this time of year.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Every time I ride up Barbur and have to dodge the stupid potholes and rough patches of asphalt, I curse ODOT under my breath and wonder why they can’t maintain a decent bike lane. Then I read about projects like this one, and I wonder: Why the heck can’t ODOT walk and chew gum at the same time??

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’ve already seen dozens of cars driving around with studded tires, this week. It’s impossible to keep up with basic road maintenance with the tax base we have when you have morons driving monster trucks with studded tires for 6 months of the year when we only get snow/ice for a few days per year.

Helen
Guest
Helen

Thanks Jonathan, the article and pictures make me want to get out there and ride! Looks like a really nice trail.

Serenity
Guest
Serenity

These beautiful pictures make me want to ride there. Didn’t I hear that there were really steep stairs there, though? Steep stairs with no handrail, or something?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The stairs are just west of Eagle Creek, at exit 41, not in this newest section.

Serenity
Guest
Serenity

I’d hate to go all the way out there, and be surprised…not that I could get both me *and* my trike out there on public transit. Since I am still not allowed.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I agree thd section between Troutdale and Ainsworth is not even remotely bike friendly.

Whatever happened to the plan – announced here on BikePortland – to test out a one-way stretch with contraflow bikelane??????

Adam
Guest
Adam

The BikePortland article was titled “ODOT Will Create Carfree Lane on Historic Highway When it Reopens”. It was published on BikePortland July 2018.

So, where is the carfree lane? Where are the updates ABOUT the carfree lane? If it has been cancelled, where is the outrage about the cancellation of the carfree lane??!

Serenity Ebert
Guest
Serenity Ebert

Outrage about the cancellation of the carfree lane is probably in the same nether realm as the outrage over Trimet’s access failures.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Lots of really good stuff in this thread!

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

Been having a hard time finding a good comprehensive route to this section of the trail. After getting through Cascade Locks, I’ve just gotten turned around. Do I take Forest Lane, to Frontage Rd, to Herman Creek/ Wyeth Rd? And just keep along that till I find the trail head?

A J Zelada
Guest
Armando J Zelada

Yes just take Herman Creek Rd eastward from Cascade Locks…it encounters a 600 ft hill for a mile…and then Wyeth will appear. This two road is really beautiful and has low VMT. Here is a map of the ride with the elevation cue: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/29840248. Cheers