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The Historic Columbia River Highway is open again for your riding pleasure

Posted by on August 11th, 2020 at 2:48 pm

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Along with an announcement today from the U.S. Forest Service (see below) that Multnomah Falls has begun a phased re-opening comes news that the last section of the Historic Columbia River Highway closed due to Covid-19 precautions is now open.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has officially re-opened the Historic Highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth. This means the entire highway and State Trail between Troutdale and The Dalles (minus the five-mile Mitchell Point section that requires riders to use I-84) is back to its pre-pandemic status. Keep in mind many of the trails and other recreation sites remain closed.

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2020-JointNR-MFL Re_Open NR_ CLEARED

And if you think the highway will be a mess with a crush of cars parked and being driving near Multnomah Falls and “Waterfall Alley,” you’ll be pleased to know that the USFS and their partners at the Lodge are allowing only limited access. The parking lot adjacent to the falls will remain closed. The only lot for cars to park in is the one accessible via I-84 and there is no parking/stopping/dropping-off allowed on the Historic Highway.

Unfortunately, two roads managed by Multnomah County that are popular for cycling — Alex Barr and Palmer Mill — remain closed. The County’s website says they’ve deferred to the USFS and closed the roads for Covid and erosion-related safety issues. I’ve asked for details and whether or not an exception can be made for bicycle users and will update this post when I hear back.

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

Alex Barr Rd. near my home is not closed. I’ve been on it twice in the past two weeks. No road closed signs at either end and a car even passed me at one point.

Mark
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Mark

Alex Barr road is open, I’ve been on it twice in the past two weeks. No signs at either top or bottom

Walter
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Walter

I biked up a few weeks ago not realizing the road was still closed. When I got to the closure it was guarded by a ranger in his truck. I asked politely a few times if I could bike through but he was obviously not a decision maker and I had to find an alternative.

I was somewhat flabbergasted that there was a person guarding the road block who could’ve allowed through bikers to use the empty road but did not. How nice it would have been to use that car free road. What a wasted opportunity to build some good will with the community.

Oh well.

Bike Guy
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Bike Guy

oh, there was a wasted opportunity to build goodwill alright …

Steph
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Steph

I actually messaged the Friends of the Columbia Gorge about this decision, because it was a bit bizarre. The Blue Ridge Parkway was closed for COVID, but they allowed cyclist and pedestrian access.

The response I got was basically: it’s complicated. Apparently there are several groups that manage this highway and since they couldn’t get agreement, it was easier to just close to all users. Definitely a wasted opportunity though!