New route guide will get you into the Gorge without a car

Megan Ramey’s handy Columbia River bus and bike route guide.
Ramey showing off the Columbia Gorge Express bike rack. (Credit: Kyle Ramey)

A trip to Multnomah Falls on a beautiful summer day can lose its luster after spending an hour circling the parking lot to find an open space. But there’s another way to enjoy everything the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge has to offer – and with no parking required.

Thanks to Hood River bike advocate Megan Ramey, who put together a guide of 15 ways to explore the Gorge by bike and bus, you’ll see it’s easier than you might think to enjoy this amazing place without driving to it.

The Gorge Pass offers unlimited rides from Portland to various parts of the Columbia Gorge, including Hood River and the Dalles. The Columbia Gorge Express, which is part of the Columbia Area Transit system, goes from Portland to the Dalles, with stops in Troutdale, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, Hood River and Mosier along the way. If you want to take a bike ride on one of the many routes along the Columbia River, don’t worry about cramming your bike on a car rack or in your trunk and finding parking at the trailhead. You can put your bike on the back of the bus and take it for a spin when you’ve reached your ideal starting point, and then catch the bus back to Portland after your ride.

To help pick the perfect route for your needs, Ramey has organized the guide according to intensity. Riders can pick between four levels; from a family-friendly jaunt on The Dalles Riverfront Trail to 14-mile adventure on the Hood River Fruit Loop. Each route features a summary, a map, and connecting transit information.

Routes categorized by intensity.

This new guide is just the latest in a recent push to encourage people to take carfree adventures around Oregon, particularly in the Gorge. The Oregon Department of Transportation implemented new permit requirements to drive a car into the Gorge this summer to limit traffic on Historic Columbia River Highway.

The benefits to going into the Gorge carfree extend beyond bypassing crowded parking lots and car traffic: you’ll be able to experience its beauty directly, with the summer breeze in your face, and you can feel free to relax with a glass of wine or a beer without worrying about driving back into town.

“When I think of biking and the Columbia Gorge, I think of waterfalls, views, flora, topography, food, beer, wine, swimming holes, primo hiking access and a more immersive way to experience it all,” Ramey wrote in an email to BikePortland. “There is a bike ride for any ability, age or riding preference.”

Take a look at the guide to see all 15 suggested routes.

And if you’re Gorge-curious and up for an adventure, there’s a Pedalpalooza ride with an overnight camping option that leaves from Portland Wednesday morning.