This 9 mile out and back ride along a restored section of the Historic Columbia River Highway makes for a great weekend outing with the family. The views of the Gorge are almost constant and always breathtaking.
From the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead in Hood River, this paved, restored segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway parallels the river east for 4.5 miles. The path winds gently along basalt cliffs and through forest canopies. Along the route, there are viewpoint pullouts and remnants of the old Historic Highway, which are perfect spots for a water or snack break. There are a couple of minor, rolling ascents and descents that will provide some exercise for the family, but nothing too strenuous.
What Makes It Great
The mix of beauty, history, and family-friendliness make this trail and exceptional choice. It is the perfect amount of exercise for young bikers and it has tunnels, which add much to the intrigue. For the adults, there is of course the historical aspect, as well as the truly epic Gorge views that compliment most of the journey. Because the path is located where the river passes through the Cascade Range, it showcases flora from both the lush western side, as well as the more arid eastern side. The mix is beautiful.
After about 4 miles of pedaling, the trail enters the Mosier Twin Tunnels. The restored tunnels were part of the original construction of the “King of Roads” back in 1919 and make a great carrot to dangle in front of kids that are not in the mood to get on a bike. There are also windows within the tunnels, which are carved out of the basalt and look down to the river below.
The trail is popular among bicyclists as well as walkers, hikers, and joggers. Many of bring dogs along for the journey, so watch your speed, particularly through the tunnels. The trail ends at the east trailhead shortly after the tunnels, which is the turnaround point for this outing.
Who is Going to Love It
There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy here. The kids get tunnels and the adults get world-class views, a great little leg stretch, and a journey through history.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park at the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead West, in Hood River. A Northwest Forest Pass or $5 day use fee is required. Dogs are allowed if they are on a leash. Also make sure to give a verbal heads-up when passing pedestrians if you are on a bike.
The Gorge is notorious for wind and weather conditions that change rapidly. Check conditions before you go, but be prepared for hot weather in the summer and rainy weather in the winter. There’s a good chance there will be wind whenever you go.