Bicycling and hiking in northwest Oregon, 2006

Page 1: Columbia River Gorge and biking to Seaside
Page 2: Biking from Seaside to Cape Meares
Page 3: Museums, Forest Park, and Mount Saint Helens

Friday, September 1

After driving west all day yesterday, Kathy, Daniel and I are in Oregon for our last big vacation of the year. When our friends Randy and Sara moved out to Hillsboro earlier this year, we saw an opportunity to combine visiting them with biking and hiking. The Columbia River Gorge has many good hiking trails, and I've been wanting to bike along the Oregon coast. I'd love to pedal the coast with our camping gear and camp in the parks and forests, but with Daniel in a trailer we just can't pull that much weight up the steep hills. Instead, this will be our 1st bike trip using hotels and resorts. We plan to bike for 3 to 4 days, staying in resorts along the coast. Randy and Sara are helping us keep the cost down by letting us stay in resorts owned by their vacation property club.

We've spent today recovering from our drive, and we'll go on our first hike tomorrow. Randy and Sara's son Evan is about Daniel's age and they have been playing together in the house.

Evan and Daniel playing in the television cabinet.

Daniel playing with balls in the pool.

Saturday, September 2

All six of us squeezed into Randy and Sara's Buick for a drive up to the Columbia River Gorge today. 80 miles of the gorge is designated a National Scenic Area, and hiking trails lead up to the many waterfalls that feed into the river. We hiked a loop that took us past the large Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls, plus many smaller waterfalls. Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the gorge at 620 feet tall.

Evan, Kathy and Daniel all squeezed into Randy and Sara's Buick.

Evan and Daniel waiting for the hike to start.

Lower Multnomah Falls.

This was a hot day in Hillsboro - over 90 degrees - so we were happy to be out hiking in the gorge. A strong breeze blew there all day (as is typical,) and that combined with mist from the waterfalls and shade from the big trees kept us cool. In the lower, western gorge where we were the forest is very green from moss on the trees and from the ferns and other plants that cover the ground. The eastern gorge is much drier and looks more like the dry foothills that we hike in Colorado.

After getting back to Hillsboro tonight we did a lot of cooking, eating and packing. In the morning we'll bike out of town and over the coastal mountains to the ocean.

One of several small waterfalls on Multnomah Creek.

Kathy looking at the thick forest.

We stopped for lunch here at a fork in the trail.

Fairy Falls.

The Columbia River Gorge. A series of dams on the Columbia make the river look more like a skinny lake than a powerful river. The dams generate electricity and enable shipping.

Randy and Sara walking past Wahkeena Falls.

Sunday, September 3

Distance: 71.9 miles
Riding time: 5 hours, 37 minutes
Average speed: 12.7 mph
Maximum speed: 41.1 mph

We didn't get started as early as we hoped, but shortly after 8 a.m. we were on our bike and riding to Seaside, the oldest and most popular oceanside resort town in Oregon. Randy and Sara stayed behind in the morning to pack and go to church, and they met us in Seaside in the afternoon.

Most of our route was along highway 26, which I inquired about at a bike shop on Friday. The advice I got was that 26 is curvy, high traffic, high speed, has little to no shoulder, and is much too dangerous for a bicycle. We rode it anyway, and it wasn't too bad. The road is not very curvy and it has good shoulders for most of its length. One place that it doesn't have shoulders is in a narrow tunnel. We walked through the tunnel on a narrow sidewalk, with the traffic echoing very loudly and the honking horns echoing even louder. The noise and darkness upset Daniel, but we picked him up and calmed him down right afterwards.

Farmland northwest of Hillsboro.

Climbing into the coastal mountains.

A narrow tunnel on highway 26.

Forest in the coastal mountains. The light green bushes at the bottom of the picture are wild raspberry bushes, an invasive plant in Oregon. Raspberries have spread along most road banks, and sometimes their thorny runners cross the road shoulder, trying to poke bicycle tires.

Daniel gives Mommy a drink at lunch.

A pretty log home on the Necanicum River.

This ride exhausted all our energy - I think we were already worn down from our hike yesterday. At least the weather was good, with clear skies and cool air over the coastal mountains. As we finished the final 3 or 4 miles to the coast the clear skies were replaced by an afternoon fog from the ocean. During one fast descent today I heard a loud noise on the pavement and Kathy yelled, "Daniel lost his ball!" He figured out how to push his plastic ball out through a gap in the fabric around his trailer. He had a HUGE grin on his face. I walked back a few hundred yards to recover the ball, but I knew better than to hand it back to him.

We arrived at the beach at 3:45 p.m. and Randy and Sara arrived about 15 minutes later. We're sharing a 3-bedroom suite in their resort. Kathy and I have never vacationed in resorts, and it feels like complete luxury compared to sleeping in our tent - beds! A full kitchen! Outdoor hot tubs! A balcony overlooking the beach! Perhaps best of all, Daniel is sleeping in a crib in his own room and he should be well rested by tomorrow. Daniel doesn't sleep well in our tent.

Daniel and Evan loved playing on the beach and in the surf this afternoon even though the ocean water is very cold. Back when Daniel was 3 months old he hated cold water, even the relatively warm Colorado River near Moab, but these days cold doesn't bother him.

Douglas Pass may not be high altitude, but it was a lot of work to cross.

Finishing our ride at the boardwalk in Seaside.

Daniel watching children play on the beach.

Playing on the beach at Seaside.


Page 1: Columbia River Gorge and biking to Seaside
Page 2: Biking from Seaside to Cape Meares
Page 3: Museums, Forest Park, and Mount Saint Helens