Author Topic: L&C Route- Which is best- Washington or Oregon side along Columbia River  (Read 3115 times)

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Offline jimlund

Which side of the Columbia River is best east of Portland — the main route on the Oregon side or the Washington option on the Washington side?

Offline JHamelman

There are pros and cons to each.

SR 14 on the Washington Option has little shoulder and the traffic, especially trucks, has picked up since we originally chose the route in 2002. We recently changed the route onto more rural roads near Washougal to avoid SR 14. There are fewer services on the Option.

However the Main Route requires some riding on I-84 (about 16, I believe, in two stretches). The number of interstate miles has been reduced with the completion of another section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail that is slated to open this weekend (8/3/19).

I hope this helps.

Jennifer
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Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
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Offline adventurepdx

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I live in Portland and ride out to the Gorge regularly. Like Jennifer said, there are pros and cons to each. But I'd recommend the Oregon side for a few reasons:
  • It's got the better highlights and scenery. You'll get some great viewpoints like Women's Forum/Crown Point, the loops from Hood River to Mosier, and Rowena Crest. Plus, there's all the waterfalls. If you do the Washington side, you'll get one great view at Cape Horn and more overall views of the river.
  • There are some pretty nice car-free segments like the one Jennifer mentioned, plus those Mosier loops. They keep on adding more car-free sections on the Oregon side. The Washington side has nothing.

There are definitely cons to the Oregon side, like the sections of I-84 shoulder that you still have to ride for now.* Plus, there's a set of unavoidable** stairs near Eagle Creek that will be a pain if you have a recumbent/tandem/trailer/etc. But WA 14 is so busy nowadays, and there isn't a lot of shoulder. I rode a section of 14 between Beacon Rock and Bridge of the Gods last weekend, and it was pretty hairy, with lots of big trucks. I'll do 14 if I need to, but not by choice.

WA 14 is pretty good east of The Dalles, with a nice wide shoulder for the most part. So you can do Oregon side from Portland to The Dalles, then 14 east of there.

*Wyeth Bench Road between Cascade Locks and Wyeth is pretty steep, so I'll probably keep on riding the shoulder of 84 in that area.
**The only way to avoid it is by getting on 84 as it goes through shoulderless Toothrock Tunnel. Or hopping on the bus.

Offline TheBigRideforEB

My personal opinion is staying on 84 on the Oregon side. The new open trail is okay, but is not great shape in spots, lots more climbing it seems, and adds mileage. I have gone thru the gorge twice now, both times 95% all on I-84.  Better views, smoother pavement and easy to get food & water, places to stay

Offline adventurepdx

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My personal opinion is staying on 84 on the Oregon side. The new open trail is okay, but is not great shape in spots, lots more climbing it seems, and adds mileage. I have gone thru the gorge twice now, both times 95% all on I-84.  Better views, smoother pavement and easy to get food & water, places to stay

For what it's worth, the ease in getting food and water is probably better on the Historic Columbia River Hwy and Trail. You'll be passing by several parks with bathrooms/water. The old highway and trail parallels 84, so you basically get to the same places to stay. (84 has the advantage of access to Memaloose State Park.) And the Historic Highway has the views from Crown Point, Rowena Crest, and more. You don't get those same views if you stick strictly to I-84.


Vista House at Crown Point


Rowena Crest