Cycle Oregon XVIII

Sept. 10-17, 2005—Boardman to Astoria

Day One: Boardman to Condon, 81 miles  Map

From our lush campsite on the bank of the mighty Columbia – yes, Lewis and Clark slept here – we pedal south into a scenic swath of Oregon wheat country. After riding past those amber waves of grain, we settle for the evening into Condon, where 600 citizens have sworn to show us just how spirited life can be in Oregon’s most celebrated “semi-ghost town.”

Day Two: Condon to The Dalles, 71 miles  Map

We turn today toward the forested slopes, beckoned west by the snow-capped sentinels strung along the horizon. After passing ethereal acres of Oregon’s tallest crop – giant windmills fueling the New West – we rest at river’s edge, where Native American tribes netted salmon for thousands of years. In The Dalles, we toss our bedrolls in a park that perches high above town, offering spectacular views across the Columbia Basin.

Day Three: The Dalles to Rooster Rock, 68 miles  Map

Saddle up for one of America’s greatest days on a bicycle. We ride through the Columbia Gorge, the sylvan slash where the Great River of the West carves its way through the Cascade Range. Along the spine of the National Scenic Area, we ride the Historic Columbia River Highway, the route hand-crafted from 1913-22 to be “the most beautiful road in the world.”

Day Four: Rooster Rock to Champoeg, 71 miles (99.2 miles option)  Map

Emerging from the Cascade Mountains, we enter the fertile Willamette Valley, the 19th century destination for thousands of covered wagons, the place pioneers called “The Land at Eden’s Gate.” Century lovers can begin their day by climbing to the magnificent Larch Mountain lookout before continuing on their way. Along the way, we’ll linger over a barbecue on the banks of the Clackamas River before making our way to Champoeg, the crown jewel of Oregon State Parks. We pitch our tents in the spot where, in 1843, 102 pioneers gathered and gave birth to provisional government in the West.

Day Five: Layover Day Option: 110 miles  Map

This day is all about choices. Follow a suggested tour through the bucolic back roads of the Willamette Valley to the Oregon Gardens, or relax and bask in the bounty of the park’s 615 acres of forests, wetlands and prairie. There’ll be activities galore around our campsite, once a bustling stop for steamboats and stagecoaches, now a scenic State Heritage Area.

Day Six: Champoeg to Vernonia, 68 miles  Map

Bidding adieu to the Willamette, we wind our way across the fecund floor of the valley that pioneers insisted was so fertile “even the fence posts bear fruit.” After lunch, we begin our leisurely rise back toward big trees. Cathedral groves of emerald green shade our path as we approach a thoroughly Oregonized welcome in the traditional timber town of Vernonia.

Day Seven: Vernonia to Astoria, 73 miles  Map

Following the Nehalem River as it ribbons its languid way to the coast, we ride through lush forests. Don’t miss the great elk-viewing spots along the way. In the afternoon, we visit Fort Clatsop, America’s newest National Park, where Lewis and Clark wintered during their epic journey. Our odyssey ends in Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia, where a magnificent hilltop vista welcomes us to the historic city in which America first became a nation from sea to shining sea.