Fit to be Tried
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Beauty of the Beasts
to know where to look. These adventures are just a few examples of what our Northwest territory has to offer. Besides your normal riding essentials, you might want to check out a guidebook. One of my favorites for roadsters is Rubber to the Road (Peter Marsh, 84 pages, $10) and for mountain bikes any of The Singletrack Anthology series (Pinnacle Publishing, $9.95-$11.95). Otherwise you might find yourself snuggling up with a Sasquatch for the evening.
Knebal Springs and 8-Mile Creek: This could be the perfect spring ride. The second the snow disappears from the back side of Mount Hood, you'll find wildflowers and, as always, breathtaking vistas. Speed freaks and granny-gear climbers will equally love the trails here. The only drawback is that plenty of people know how great this ride is, so watch for dogs and horses. Located about 35 miles south of Hood River (from Highway 35, turn east on Forest Service Road 44 and follow signs), these two rides start at the same spot but can be looped together for hours of singletrack bliss.
Vista Point and Old Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway:
The quintessential just-out-of-Portland road ride. Besides, every waterfall and view in the Columbia Gorge just seems to look a lot better when you're riding and not driving by. To get here, most people drive out Interstate 84 and park their rigs at Lewis and Clark State Park in Troutdale. From there, head down the Old Scenic Highway past numerous waterfalls. If you're up for a challenge star, start pedaling out Northeast Marine Drive (on the bike path) and head to a rolling, gradual climb up to Crown Point and then downhill to all the falls. Word of caution: On almost any nice summer weekend, this old highway can feel like West Burnside Street at rush hour, so try to start early in the morning.
Three Corner Rock: A classic mountain-bike ride that starts with a long, gradual fire-road climb--the kind that tricks you into thinking you're at the top at least four or five times. Pack a lunch in your Camelbak (for non-mtb'ers, that's where you store your H2O) and take in the amazing view at the top as you prepare for 40 minutes of white-knuckle downhill singletrack. Bring a few extra layers because the weather in the Gorge can change faster than you can get a flat. This ride, located a half-hour north of Washougal, Wash., up the Washougal River, gets very little traffic, but you still need to be aware. To get there head across the Columbia River and east on Highway 14. Take a left in Washougal on 15th Street and turn left where the road ends.
Hagg Lake: This man-made wonder seems like it was designed for spinning, rolling or pedaling around on a bike. All types of riders can enjoy its rolling 10-mile loop. You will see novice riders who start at the lake, club riders who start (and end with a beer) at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, and racers who started all the way back in Portland. On hot, sunny weekends you might think you stumbled into a monster-truck rally, so choose your ride time wisely. From Portland, take Highway 26 west to Forest Grove and then look for Highway 47 south.
Ape Canyon: This one is up near the top of my all-time favorite mountain-bike rides. Remember that little explosion we had here in 1980? This trail takes you right into the thick of Mount St. Helens' aftermath. After a short but really steep climb riddled with switchbacks, you find yourself on a huge plateau near the very top of the peak. It can be looped with other trails or ridden out and back, depending on your fitness level. After you get a few miles from the parking lot, the foot traffic thins out and you feel like you're all alone on the moon. Located an hour and a half from Portland on the southern side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, off Highway 503 and Forest Service Road 83.