Day 1 – The Dalles to Glenwood, WA
When developing a route, it is typically based on one or two areas, with the remainder of the route tying those areas together. This is the case this year: I’ve wanted to go to the Glenwood/Trout Lake area in Washington for years. Then, where to spend the other five days was the big decision. Cycle Oregon climbed from Dufur to Mt Hood in 1993, which is a beautiful ride, so that route was added, and then all that was left was to find places to complete a loop.
To begin this year’s trek, we start with the sojourn to Washington. The first challenge was choosing where to cross the Columbia River, as there are limited bridge crossings for bicycles. The bridge at The Dalles was selected as the access to our neighboring state because bicycles are allowed, and there are no metal grates on the surface of the roadway. After riding into Washington, the route follows the state highway adjacent to the river for seven miles, traveling west through two adjacent tunnels. Typically in September the strong westerly winds that make the Columbia Gorge world-famous for windsurfing do not blow. (Well, at least not ALL the time, because it would NOT be a tailwind.)
After arriving in the small community of Lyle for the first stop of the day, we leave the big gorge for the smaller Klickitat River gorge, following that scenic river upstream for twenty miles through the town of Klickitat before starting the big climb of the day. Shortly after the summit of the 3.5-mile hill, the route turns west again traveling through farmland, meadows and forest and steadily climbing at a moderate rate. Then, riders will be treated to a spectacular five-mile descent with great views of the Klickitat River, ending at a rest stop on the river.
After the last rest stop of the day, there is only thirteen miles left to the small host community of Glenwood. Those who are not in a hurry will want to stop at one of the unimproved viewpoints on the right side of the road looking into a gorge formed by the Klickitat. Our overnight camping location is on the grassy fields of the local school with a million dollar view of Mt. Adams, the second highest mountain in Washington at just over 12,000 feet. This is the same mountain viewed from Sorosis Park in The Dalles at the beginning of the day, but oh so much closer.