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A fun (and easy!) 24-hour weekend bike trip

A fun (and easy!) 24-hour weekend bike trip

A fun (and easy!) 24-hour weekend bike trip

Lower Multnomah Falls
Lower Multnomah Falls in the Gorge

Last weekend (Monday and Tuesday) Don and I decided to take advantage of Portland's unusually warm spring weather and head out on a quick overnight bike ride. The trip was impressively convenient and easy, and yet we both had time to take in the beauty of the gorge and empty our minds after a long week of work. This is a trip we'd recommend to anyone who has some basic gear and feels comfortable biking for about 25 miles a day.

Don's bike on the bus to GreshamMt. Hood from Troutdale

We left our house at noon on Monday with loaded up bikes and enough food for 2 lunches, dinner, and breakfast. We only had to go 2 blocks to catch a bus that took us all the way to the Gresham Central Transit Center. Unfortunately there were other bikes on the buses too (each bus can only carry 2 bikes at a time) so we ended up splitting up and riding out to Gresham separately. The bus fare was only $2.50 each and it was easy enough to load up a bike and carry our bags on the bus with us. Once in Gresham we rode along NE Division St. for less than a mile before turning north onto Kane Dr. and east onto 17th. We were crossing over the Sandy River and onto the Historic Columbia Highway 30 in less than 30 minutes after getting off the bus. The ride grew incresingly scenic and lovely from that point on. Or at least it would have if part of the Historic Highway weren't currently closed for construction.

The Columbia GorgePortland Women's Forum

A little over 6 miles past the Stark Street Bridge we came to the stunning Portland Women's Forum lookout where we of course had to stop for photos and a snack. We continued on, eager to get to the Vista House where we planned on eating lunch and people watching. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes of getting back on the bikes, we found ourselves stopped at a road closure sign. A DOT employee informed us that the road was closed for construction until Memorial Day and that no one, not even a bike, was allowed through. A little dejected, we turned around and flew back downhill until we came to Corbett Hill Road which would take us to HWY 84. We enjoyed a quick mile and a half of steep downhill, fully aware that we'd be climbing back up it the next day, and then settled in to 6 miles of loud and fast highway travel. At Bridal Veil falls we were able to hop back on the Historic Highway and continue a few more miles to the famous Multnomah Falls. We sat at the falls for a while, eating lunch, taking pictures, and warming ourselves in the sun.

Road ClosureCorbett Hill Rd.

Eventually, with only 4 miles to go, we got on our bikes and pedaled through more beautiful forest until we reached the campground at Ainworth State Park. We did consider stealth camping, but decided instead to take advantage of bathrooms and running water. It was a wonderful night of eating, fire building, s'more making, and reading...all under a clear starry sky. For dinner we had Louisiana beans and rice with tortillas and cheese. Backpacker's Pantry dehydrated meals are affordable, lightweight, filling, and tasty...we're such big fans! We fell asleep with smiles on our faces, making plans for all the other bike trips we want to take this summer.

Ainsworth State ParkBiking in Ainsworth State Park

The ride home on Tuesday morning was so quick and easy that we made it back to the bus station at around 11, before we even had a chance to get hungry and eat lunch. The hill back up to Corbett was steep, but it was just the challenge we were looking for and it made the downhill back into Troutdale even more enjoyable. We were home by noon and felt grateful to have the whole rest of our "Sunday" free to clean up, rest, and prepare for the week ahead. We are looking forward to trying out other nearby overnight routes, but also plan to return to Ainsworth in the near future...ideally with some friends in tow!

Our campsite in Ainsworth State ParkRocks in Ainsworth State Park

Lessons Learned/Reminders:
Always check for road closures
Bring extra snacks
Be prepared when bussing with bikes to ride separately

Gear Shout-Out:
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket
I finally gave in and bought this jacket after lusting after it all winter long. I brought it along on this bike trip and it performed excellently. It is never recommended to do much physical activity while wearing a puffy (synthetic or down) because they aren't super breathable, but the truth is that we all have a hard time taking off a warm comfy layer after a break. I did bike in this for a couple miles, but even after I warmed up significantly and stopped to delayer, I still hadn't begun to sweat while wearing this jacket. I put it on each time we stopped and then wore it all night at camp. Surprisingly, it was the heaviest layer I needed even when the sun went down. Also, to top it all off, the jacket stuffs into its own pocket, making for an unusually compact, manageable puffy when packing everything up. Love it!

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