Cycling in Northern Oregon and Southern Washington

For the cycling enthusiast, few places can match the bike-friendly atmosphere and beautiful countryside of Northern Oregon and Southern Washington. From the mountain-biking trails of the Oregon Cascade Mountains to the scenic bike paths of Washington’s Puget Sound, this area is a biking enthusiast’s dream.
When many people think of Oregon or Washington, they think of rain. For some, this may lead them to believe that planning bicycling trips in either of these states might lead to too many weather-related disappointments. Although it’s true that the Pacific Northwest has more than it’s share of rain, it’s soggy reputation is usually a bit exaggerated. Though the weather isn’t completely predictable, there are in general many times during the year that provide adequate and often ideal conditions for bicycling. This, of course, would depend on exactly where you wanted to take your bike trip, but all areas have their prime cycling times.

For the mountain biking enthusiast, the mountain trails of Northern Oregon and Southern Washington are arguably some of the best in the country. Oregon’s Mt. Hood offers a multitude of trails that offer the advantage of excellent trail riding combined with spectacular views of Mt. Hood’s snowy peaks and surrounding lakes. There are plenty of single track and double track trails to choose from, depending on what type of biking you prefer. The Mt. Hood national forest stretches from the Columbia River Gorge to just under the slopes of neighboring Mt. Jefferson, and everywhere in this area you will find mountain bike trails. If you weren’t a mountain biking fanatic before, the spectacular scenery offered by these trails will surely turn you into one!

Remember; the higher the altitude the sooner winter arrives and the longer it lasts, so plan your trips accordingly. Summer is best for the higher altitudes, but summer, late spring and early fall are probably okay if you’re going to stay low. Always check with the local weather agencies, but bring along the proper survival gear just in case. Weather predicting is still not an exact science!
Mountain biking trails also abound in the coastal mountain range of Western Oregon. Not only do these trails offer the breathtaking sights of some of Oregon’s coastal lakes and rivers, they are also close to the ocean. You could move from biking in the mountains to cruising along the beautiful Oregon coastline in a one or two-day trip.

I tend to be partial to Oregon because I live here, but you’ll find no shortage of wonderful mountain biking trails in Southern Washington. Also host to the beautiful Cascade Mountain range, Southern Washington boasts trails around the Columbia and Washougal Rivers, and Mt. Jefferson and the now-famous Mt. St. Helens just to name a few places. Of course, if you’re planning a biking trip around Mt. St. Helens, you may want to check the latest reports on its recent volcanic activity. Check to see if there are any area restrictions right before you start your trip. Depending on how long you plan on being there, it’s also a good idea to keep checking the reports regularly. Predicting volcanic activity is also not an exact science!

For the more leisure-oriented biking enthusiast, Northern Oregon offers a friendly and supportive atmosphere for cycling. Cycling is popular here, and bike trails abound. The Willamette River runs through Portland and it’s surrounding areas, and bike trails along the river are as common as the streets and highways. Taking a bike ride along the river during the late summer and early fall in Portland is as close to perfect as it gets. The only problem you may encounter is finding room on the bike trail. As I said, cycling is popular here! Stop for some espresso or cappuccino, or a delicious patio lunch in a riverside cafÃ?©, and a daily bike trip along the Willamette River is a pleasurable and memorable experience.

In Southern Washington, nothing beats biking along the Puget Sound for a delightful trip. The Puget Sound area boasts trails for both mountain biking and road biking enthusiasts. An inlet of the Pacific Ocean that extends approximately fifty miles south and north, the Puget Sound is one of the most popular areas in Washington. Washingtonians have worked hard to keep the area beautiful and inviting, and it shows. Bike trails are placed all along the Sound, and an entire biking vacation could be based around seeing the sights along its shores. Be careful, though; you may never want to leave!

If you live in the Northern Oregon or Southern Washington area and are interested in joining a bike club, there are many to choose from. There are clubs that cater to people of all ages and levels of biking experience. Joining a bike club can give you the advantage of benefiting from others’ experience, or simply having people to ride with who are as enthusiastic as you are about the sport. A simple Internet search can get you started on finding the club that is just right for you.

Whether a hard-core mountain biker or a weekend leisure cyclist, Northern Oregon and Southern Washington can offer you limitless cycling pleasure.

Now grab your helmet and your water bottle and have a great ride!

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