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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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