The classic 46 mile round trip ride from the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site in Troutdale to the summit of the Larch Mountain Crater is not a casual Sunday leg stretch. The ride is a showcase for the best the Northwest has to offer; but the penance for its many rewards is 3500 feet of climbing.
A mettle-testing climb through exemplary Northwest forest is the primary reason for the ride up Larch Mountain. There are also a handful of postcard-worthy views along the way, capped by a 360-degree, jaw-dropping panorama at the summit of the Larch Mountain Crater. On a clear day victorious riders can claim views of Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and Mt Hood among the visual rewards for their efforts.
What Makes It Great
This ride is the big boy on the block. It’s perhaps the biggest climb in the greater Portland area, with some of the best scenery along the way, culminating with what is arguably the best view of any ride in the area. The classic 46-mile round trip ride from the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site in Troutdale to the summit of the Larch Mountain Crater is not a casual Sunday leg stretch. The ride is a showcase for the best the Northwest has to offer, but the penance for its many rewards is 3500 feet of climbing. It’s the best ride in the area for exercise as well as scenery.
From Troutdale, the ride begins innocent enough with an easy pedal along the Sandy River. The next 9 miles ascend along a low-traffic two-lane road at a relatively pleasant grade, passing scenic farmland and traveling through the small town of Corbett before arriving at a must-see viewpoint at the Portland Women’s Forum. Looking east into the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, a number of Northwest landmarks make an appearance from this vantage point, including Beacon Rock, the Vista House (a quick half mile side-trip, which is a good stop for a restroom break and a water refill), Hamilton Mountain, and the highpoint of your ride, Larch Mountain.
Continuing the journey, the big elevation gain now begins as you veer off onto Larch Mountain Road. Over the next 10 miles or so you’ll earn your supper. But the beauty of the surrounding forest will take your mind off of your burning lungs and leg muscles….to some degree at least. The road ends at the Larch Mountain Crater parking area. but the climbing isn’t done. Stash your bike and climb a long set of stairs to Sherrard Point. If you don’t make this extra trip you’ll be kicking yourself the next day, as the view is perhaps the best in the entire Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Once you get here, eat lunch, rehydrate, and head back the way you came.
Who is Going to Love It
For riders that covet a bicycle bucket list, this is the ride for you.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
For this ride, you should park at the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site in Troutdale. Take I-84 east to exit 18 and take a left at the stop sign. There are no parking or day use fees.
Late summer and early fall are the best and possibly only times to go as snow can be found on Larch Mountain into July.