Author Topic: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula  (Read 1487 times)

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Offline TeresaC

Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« on: January 31, 2022, 08:41:42 pm »
I'm deciding between the Lewis and Clarke Trail and the TransAM from Oregon for a ride from ORegon to Silverthorn, CO.

I'm 65, prob riding solo, camping, motels, cooking and eating out, about 50 miles per day.  I don't want to purchase all the maps in order to make this decision.  I have never been to Oregon before.

 I want to consider/compare the the rigor and traffic and interest of each trail. 

Lewis and Clarke:  I like the idea of the Columbia River Gorge for the beauty.  This Trail is shorter by about 180 miles.  But some of it is unpaved and includes gravel.  Do the alternative routes give a paved option?

TransAm is certainly beautiful.  Not sure if it is less challenging than the Lewis and Clarke Trail apart from the mileage. 

Thank you.




Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2022, 08:55:30 pm »
What direction are you heading?

The Lewis and Clark (no "e") is generally easier than the TransAm through Oregon, as it's flatter. But this only applies if you are heading east. If you are heading west on the Lewis and Clark in the summer, expect a heavy headwind from the Columbia Gorge eastward. How strong? Strong enough that you'll need to pedal downhill.

And the Lewis and Clark also features a bit of riding Interstate 84 from Cascade Locks to Biggs Junction. You can avoid that by crossing to the Washington side at Cascade Locks. However, you'll miss some scenic highlights in Oregon, and while WA 14 isn't a freeway, it's a two lane highway with heavy traffic (especially truck traffic) and lots of section with no shoulder. And if you stay on WA 14 from Stevenson to Maryhill, you will miss Hood River as the bridge there does not allow bikes.

I don't recall any unpaved sections on the Lewis and Clark in Oregon, though there are sections with paved bike paths.

Offline jamawani

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2022, 09:12:56 pm »
Teresa -

I'm 65, usually ride solo, camping, the occasional motel, cafes for company, about 65 miles per day.
Plus, I've been doing it for a long time and have done both routes you mentioned.

There are a few important pieces of information that would help.
How much have you toured? Time of year for this section? Sounds like west-to-east, right?

The Columbia Gorge can be brutal heading westbound. Downhill in your granny gear.
West-to-east, you should have more favorable winds - - but there are no guarantees.

From the Cascades west there has been lots of snow/rain this winter,
but in many areas east of the Cascades it has been brutally dry.
So the fire season is likely to start early and may be as bad as last year's.
I might urge a start prior to July 1 for either route.

If you haven't had much touring experience, I would go with the Lewis & Clark.
Although the Columbia River route is hardly flat, you have less overall climbing.
White Bird Summit in Idaho on the TransAm is a doozie. Very exposed, too.
(Huge difference between cliimbing in the woods and under a blazing sun with no shade.)

This biggest advantage of the TransAm is that it is the oldest and most ridden bike tour routes.
There are generally more cyclist-oriented services and you will meet more cyclists along the way.

One of the challenges of the Lewis & Clark is Portland - but you are mostly on bike trails.
Also, you can avoid the gravel section by crossing the river at The Dalles.

If you opt for the Lewis & Clark, I would urge you to start on the Washington side.
From Cape Disappointment to Cathlamet - much less traffic, some glorious river expanses.
With a riverside ride through the Julia Butler Hansen Whitetail Deer Refuge.
There's also an inland backroad route from Clatskanie to Saint Helens that avoids US 30.
And the Historic Columbia River Highway is magnificent with a few new sections.

Be glad to share any details you might need.
Regards - J

Pic - Crown Point View of Columbia River Gorge, 2019
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38469694
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Projects/Project%20Documents/DallesBridgeClosure.pdf

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2022, 09:19:55 pm »
Jamawani, it doesn't look like your Crown Point pic uploaded.
Oh wait, it looks like it did. But I'll still share mine:




Also, that route from Clatskanie to St. Helens is definitely better than sticking to US 30. My preferred routing from Astoria to Portland would be 202-47-Banks/Vernonia Trail, but that stays far from the Columbia River.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 09:21:28 pm by adventurepdx »

Offline jamawani

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2022, 09:22:21 pm »
PS - If you do the Lewis & Clark - plan to do the Historic Columbia River Highway on a weekday.
Weekend traffic is nuts in the summertime - 1/2 of Portland plus other tourists.

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Regions/Documents/HCRH/HCRHST-Map-2019-Printable.pdf
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 09:30:10 pm by jamawani »

Offline TeresaC

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2022, 05:53:41 am »
Thank you very much for considerate answer.  Yes, west to east, joining the TransAm in Missoula. 

So I also need to consider the Clarkston to Missoula section of the Lewis and Clarke versus the TransAm. It looks like there is the 145 mile gravel/dirt section heading toward Lolo Pass.  Or, route 12 with its cement barriers. 

I'm not sure if the Blackfoot Option replaces both of the above intimidating sections, which would be great! 

I did the TransAm Colorado to Maryiand in 1978 and lots of bike touring in the 70s and 80s--east coast, Africa, Florida. It is the 1977 trip across the country that I want to complete:  from the west coast to Silverthorn, CO. 

I just got back into cycling during the shutdown, so I have two years of low level training under my belt, only about 40 miles per week with very few 50 mile days.  Last March I did the Natchez Trace, solo.  That was, not exactly easy, but short.  There, I saw Merriweather Lewis' burial site.
Thank you

Offline jamawani

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2022, 09:55:07 pm »
Hi again -

Well, your touring experience means you could do either route comfortably.
Of course, Washington/Oregon has much more climbing than the Natchez Trace.
But you mileage is reasonable and gives you plenty of leeway.

10 miles west of Clarkston/Lewiston is Chief Timothy Park - an island in the Snake River.
It's a lovely camping setting if it fits into your time frame. No hiker/biker camping, reservations?

I've ridden US 12 all the way from Missoula to Lewiston - downhill, but on the side with the Jersey barriers.
It's doable, but no fun - you have to be constantly alert and watching both ahead and behind in the mirror.
Eastbound, you would be mostly on the landward side with steep rock walls, but room to get off the road.
Still, I think it far better to do the Palouse Prairie Alternate. Or something similar.

Something similar -
The Palouse Prairie Alternate has you climbing 2000+ feet on the Winchester grade.
Plus it has you on US 95 for a chunk - which is o.k. -  moderate traffic, moderate shoulders.
If you don't need to camp at Winchester State Park you can save some miles and elevation.
Take Culdesac Road (steep) then Gifford-Reubens Road to Craigmont - which are paved & empty -
(Staying on US 95 all the way to Craigmont is the least steep - moderate traffic with moderate shoulders.)

Then taking ID 62 & ID 64, both empty, to Kamiah - with a big downhill at the end -
It's 15 miles shorter with 1200 ft. less of climbing. (Still 5100 ft. up in 80 miles)
Unless you follow a creek drainage up or down, it is really steep in Idaho.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38476260

US 12 from Kamiah to Kooskia is not as narrow - with small shoulders, but moderate traffic.
East of Kooskia, US 12 has light traffic, gorgeous scenery, but you still have to watch for logging trucks.
(There is no issue with unpaved roads unless you take the Lolo Trail option.)
Make certain to hit Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.
Can't camp there any more, but you can camp nearby.

The stretch of US 12 along the Lochsa River is not necessarily spectacular,
but it is so peaceful and serene - winding its way up to Lolo Pass beide the river.

Best - J

Idaho DOT Traffic Counts -
https://iplan.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=e8b58a3466e74f249cca6aad30e83ba2


Offline John Nelson

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2022, 01:11:08 am »
The stretch of US 12 along the Lochsa River is not necessarily spectacular,
but it is so peaceful and serene - winding its way up to Lolo Pass beide the river.

I found it pretty spectacular.

Offline TeresaC

Re: Lewis and Clarke vs Transam: oregon to Missoula
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2022, 08:34:30 pm »
Thank you to all responders.  Thank you for mapping  and explaining alternative routes and for the great camping and hot springs recommendations.  It really makes me want to get on the trail!

I did purchase the Lewis and Clarke maps, so that, for now, is the path I'll follow.