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Guest article: From Portland to Timberline Lodge via transit and two wheels

Guest article: From Portland to Timberline Lodge via transit and two wheels

Larua Before Ride

Starting at Laura’s home in NW Portland, Laura (left) and Ellen excited to depart on their journey.
(Photos courtesy Jen Sotolongo)

[This story was written by Jen Sotolongo, a Clackamas County tourism development specialist. It first appeared in the Clackamas County Bicycle Tourism Newsletter and is being used with her permission.]

Using a combination of biking and public transportation, Laura Foster, author of the beloved Portland Hill Walks (Timber Press, 2005) wanted to make the trek to Timberline Lodge without a car. Learning that her childhood friend Ellen Schulte would be in town for an Oregon fix, Laura hatches a plan for a four-day bike adventure.

 

As kids in the 1970s, Laura and Ellen explored the country roads west of their Illinois hometown. After years on hand-me-down wheels, in seventh grade they saved up their babysitting money to purchase a matching pair of Schwinn Collegiates for $70 apiece.

As kids in the 1970s, Laura and Ellen explored the country roads west of their Illinois hometown. After years on hand-me-down wheels, in seventh grade they saved up their babysitting money to purchase a matching pair of Schwinn Collegiates for $70 apiece. Though neither had ridden much in the past 15 or so years, Laura wanted to travel at a pace a bit faster than walking, hence the impetus for this 130-mile ride.
 
The original plan would take the women from Laura’s house, about 15 hilly miles northwest of downtown, to Oxbow Regional Park using a combination of TriMet MAX light rail and bikes. They would then continue to Welches on the second day and Timberline Lodge on the third. On the final day of the trip, Laura and Ellen would take transit back to Portland: the Mount Hood Express, SAM (Sandy Transit), and MAX, and then they would then ride the final 15 miles back to Laura’s home.
 
On day one, by the time Laura and Ellen reached the Nob Hill neighborhood in northwest Portland, their legs were still felt fresh and they had plenty of energy, so they skipped the planned MAX ride to Gresham and rode out the Springwater Corridor instead. In Gresham, they stopped for lunch at Nicholas Café, with enough leftovers for dinner, before continuing on to Oxbow Park where they swam in the Sandy River before seting up camp for the night. With abundant refueling options along the urban route, the two women had no trouble finding water and food during the first day of the ride.

Seussian trees

Dr. Seuss-like trees spotted along a rural Clackamas County road during the calm morning hours.

The following morning, the ladies headed the nine miles from Oxbow to the Tollgate Inn, their breakfast destination. After a couple of six-egg omelets (with three eggs going into a to-go bag), Laura and Ellen continued through downtown Sandy about a mile to Organic Sandy where they purchased a few more items for lunch (since provisions are nonexistent on the 20 or so miles on Ten Eyck, Marmot and Barlow Trail roads between Sandy and Welches).

After climbing and descending the Devil’s Backbone, the bane of Oregon Trail pioneers, Laura and Ellen enjoyed a well-deserved pint of beer at Brightwood Tavern in Brightwood, a great old-time watering hole. From there, the women headed for check-in and showers at the Cabins Creekside in Welches. From there they walked to a delicious dinner at the Rendezvous Grill.

Still Creek Road

The cold waters and stunning views of Stillwater Creek made the gravelly haul along Still Creek Road more manageable.

Day three brought on the gravel grinding along Still Creek Road from Rhododendron to Still Creek Campground, just below Government Camp. The road gains 2600′ in elevation over 14 miles. Although riding on thicker hybrid tires, the gravel made travel tough and Laura noted that the only other riders they saw along the road were mountain bikers riding downhill. Though the surface made for a bit of a grueling ride, Laura and Ellen enjoyed the abundant huckleberries and thimbleberries lining the road and cooling off in Still Creek, which followed the road.

The end of the 14-mile slog brought the women to Still Creek Campground in Government Camp where they caught a ride on the Mt. Hood Express to Timberline Lodge. Operating a smaller bus that afternoon, the only two bike racks available were occupied by mountain bikers who would ride the bus up to Timberline to bomb back down and repeat the process over and over. The larger bus can hold 12 bikes at a time. Luckily for Laura and Ellen, the driver allowed them to bring their bikes directly on the bus.
 
The short ride dropped the ladies off at the famed Timberline Lodge where they were instructed to bring their bikes to a locked area under the pool. Not knowing what the next day would bring, Laura and Ellen enjoyed relaxing at the lodge before the return trip home.

On Monday morning, the women packed up and got back on their bikes, heading down West Leg Road and enjoyed six miles of almost no cars, passing through numerous ski runs to Government Camp. The women fueled up for the day at the Huckleberry Inn and caught the Mount Hood Express bus from Government Camp to Sandy.
 
Arriving in Sandy with plenty of energy left in their tanks, the women decided to make their way back home on two wheels instead of the original plan of taking SAM — the Sandy to Gresham bus — and MAX to Portland. The downhill grade on the Springwater Corridor much of the way made for a quick and easy ride. The temperatures that day reached the low 90s, so before the women crossed the Hawthorne Bridge, they plunged into the Willamette River off a dock near the bridge that was packed with swimmers, kayakers, SUPers and rowers.
 
From there, Laura and Ellen’s ride got a little less pleasant as they pedaled on Highway 30 during a hot, noisy rush hour, back to Laura’s 20-acre property beyond Forest Park to fully relax and take in the journey they’d accomplished.
 
Laura said between biking and public transportation, getting to Timberline Lodge from Portland was simple and a great adventure.

Timberline

Made it! Laura and Ellen in front of Timberline Lodge.

Laura also shared a few notes of advice:

Finding bike racks proved tricky, but they made do with fences or other sign posts to lock their bikes. She stressed the importance of carrying plenty of food and water for the back roads, between Sandy and Welches.  
 
She did also note that though a lovely park, riders may want to consider an alternative route that avoids the 1,000 foot climb out of Oxbow Regional Park, by continuing on to Boring and Sandy from Gresham and staying in the Best Western in Sandy.

Looking back at the ride, Laura said it was a “leap of faith” in her and Ellen’s abilities. If it weren’t for a few local bike shops that helped her along the way, she said, she would have never made “the transition from timid to triumphant.”

“Stefan at River City Bicycles gave his expert advice on bike touring essentials and gave me a better route from Oxbow to Sandy than the one I’d mapped out. Twenty-first Avenue Bikes fixed my broken front brake in two minutes after the cable came loose while bombing down NW Thompson Road. And Pedal Bike Tours loaned Ellen an awesome bike for the ride.”

— For more on transit options around Mt. Hood, see our post about it from back in July.

The post Guest article: From Portland to Timberline Lodge via transit and two wheels appeared first on BikePortland.org.

New bus service, advocacy group are latest signs of cycling boom in Mt. Hood area

New bus service, advocacy group are latest signs of cycling boom in Mt. Hood area

Come aboard (with your bike),
they’re expecting you.

The City of Sandy and the Mt. Hood area are in the midst of a transportation revolution and bicycling is playing a major role.

Thanks to the huge success of the Sandy Ridge Trail System, the burgeoning popularity of adventure road riding, and bicycle tourism efforts, cycling has reached a tipping point. The excitement around cycling has spurred investment and attention from government officials, inspired a new bike advocacy group, and has had an economic impact on area businesses. Add to that the Oregon Department of Transportation’s ongoing work on the Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan and you’ve got the ingredients for change.

Two developments we’re keeping tabs on in this area are the launch of a new, bike-friendly bus service along Highway 26 and the growing energy around the Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition.

“I feel big things about to happen for the villages of Mt. Hood, Government Camp and Timberline Lodge! I can’t help but feel a certain electrical charge in the air while thinking of all the cycling possibilities.”
— George Wilson, Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition

In early 2013, the Mt. Hood National Forest partnered with Clackamas County to win a $460,000 grant through the Federal Lands Access Program to improve bus service on the Highway 26 corridor. Now that service, the Mt. Hood Express, is up and running. The service is getting ready for the spring season with new buses, a new schedule, and very welcoming attitude to bike riding customers.

Here’s how the Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs office announced the new bus service in their newsletter sent out this morning:

Bring the Bike, Ditch the Car: Mt. Hood Express Bus

Biking on Mt. Hood this year? Utilize Mt. Hood Express, a bus service for communities along Highway 26, running from the city of Sandy east to Timberline. New buses are equipped with plenty of bicycle and gear storage. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can ditch your car and hitch a ride to many Mt. Hood National Forest and Skibowl mountain bike trails.

The Mt. Hood Express runs every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving). The western-most stop is on Highway 26 and 362nd (Forestry Center). From there, the bus travels east about 36 miles to Timberline Lodge and Ski Area with nine stops along the way. If you take the TriMet MAX Blue Line to the Cleveland Ave Station (end of the line) in Gresham, the Mt. Hood Express stop in Sandy is an easy, 10 mile bike ride away (and much of that ride is on the Springwater Corridor!). Fares are $2 one way (have exact change). Check out MtHoodExpress.com for more info.

The other exciting development is the newly formed Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition. This is a group of volunteers who came together last fall to lobby ODOT and Clackamas County to think twice about chip-sealing Barlow Road — a popular place to ride. Now they are focused on developing a new bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Mt. Hood and surrounding towns.

Sandy Ridge loop-9

There are a lot of great roads to explore between
Sandy and Mt. Hood.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Coalition leader George Wilson has actively pursued partnerships with major political and business leaders in the area including; Oregon State Representative Mark Johnson, Clackamas County Transportation Engineering Manager Mike Bezner, Director of Public Affairs/Timberline Lodge Jon Tullis, the Villages at Mt. Hood Board of Directors, Mt. Hood Skibowl Owner Kirk Hanna (yes that Kirk Hanna), the Executive Director of Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs Danielle Cowan, and others.

In a recent email to supporters of the Coalition, Wilson wrote:

“I feel big things about to happen for the villages of Mt. Hood, Government Camp and Timberline Lodge! I can’t help but feel a certain electrical charge in the air while thinking of all the cycling possibilities for our Hoodland communities. I’m proud to say there are several major players who are able to see the vision and benefits of becoming a cycling friendly community.”

Here’s a list of the group’s goals:

  • Advocate and seek funding for a Bicycle/Pedestrian a Master Plan, with safety being paramount.
  • Repair and improve our deteriorating roads to restore them to acceptable standards by eliminating pot holes and road defects that have become a danger to vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Develop partnerships with like-minded organizations that understand the value of cycling tourism.
  • Provide future bike lanes and or bike/ped pathways that connect the villages of Mt. Hood.
  • Support Timberline Lodge, Skibowl and the National Forest Service in their efforts to build a well thought-out plan for an improved Mountain Bike Skills Park.
  • Plan and develop a paved bicycle pathway that parallels Hwy. 26, allowing cyclists to ride from Welches to Government Camp/Timberline Lodge, with the ultimate goal of making the connection to the Spring Water Corridor, connecting Portland to Mt. Hood via bicycle.
  • Improve existing mountain bike trails from Timberline Lodge/Skibowl to Welches.

It’s exciting to see so much momentum for bicycling, walking, and transit access improvements along the Highway 26 corridor in and around Mt. Hood. On January 25th, the Mt. Hood Villages Town Hall meeting will focus on cycling and bicycle tourism. We’re sending BikePortland News Editor Michael Andersen to the meeting and stay tuned for his report.

Bus service, advocacy group are latest signs of cycling boom in Mt. Hood area

Bus service, advocacy group are latest signs of cycling boom in Mt. Hood area

Come aboard (with your bike),
they’re expecting you.

The City of Sandy and the Mt. Hood area are in the midst of a transportation revolution and bicycling is playing a major role.

Thanks to the huge success of the Sandy Ridge Trail System, the burgeoning popularity of adventure road riding, and bicycle tourism efforts, cycling has reached a tipping point. The excitement around cycling has spurred investment and attention from government officials, inspired a new bike advocacy group, and has had an economic impact on area businesses. Add to that the Oregon Department of Transportation’s ongoing work on the Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan and you’ve got the ingredients for change.

Two developments we’re keeping tabs on in this area are the launch of a new, bike-friendly bus service along Highway 26 and the growing energy around the Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition.

“I feel big things about to happen for the villages of Mt. Hood, Government Camp and Timberline Lodge! I can’t help but feel a certain electrical charge in the air while thinking of all the cycling possibilities.”
— George Wilson, Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition

In early 2013, the Mt. Hood National Forest partnered with Clackamas County to win a $460,000 grant through the Federal Lands Access Program to improve bus service on the Highway 26 corridor. Now that service, the Mt. Hood Express, is up and running. The service is getting ready for the spring season with new buses, a new schedule, and very welcoming attitude to bike riding customers.

Here’s how the Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs office announced the new bus service in their newsletter sent out this morning:

Bring the Bike, Ditch the Car: Mt. Hood Express Bus

Biking on Mt. Hood this year? Utilize Mt. Hood Express, a bus service for communities along Highway 26, running from the city of Sandy east to Timberline. New buses are equipped with plenty of bicycle and gear storage. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can ditch your car and hitch a ride to many Mt. Hood National Forest and Skibowl mountain bike trails.

The Mt. Hood Express runs every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving). The western-most stop is on Highway 26 and 362nd (Forestry Center). From there, the bus travels east about 36 miles to Timberline Lodge and Ski Area with nine stops along the way. If you take the TriMet MAX Blue Line to the Cleveland Ave Station (end of the line) in Gresham, the Mt. Hood Express stop in Sandy is an easy, 10 mile bike ride away (and much of that ride is on the Springwater Corridor!). Fares are $2 one way (have exact change). Check out MtHoodExpress.com for more info.

The other exciting development is the newly formed Mt. Hood Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition. This is a group of volunteers who came together last fall to lobby ODOT and Clackamas County to think twice about chip-sealing Barlow Road — a popular place to ride. Now they are focused on developing a new bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Mt. Hood and surrounding towns.

Sandy Ridge loop-9

There are a lot of great roads to explore between
Sandy and Mt. Hood.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Coalition leader George Wilson has actively pursued partnerships with major political and business leaders in the area including; Oregon State Representative Mark Johnson, Clackamas County Transportation Engineering Manager Mike Bezner, Director of Public Affairs/Timberline Lodge Jon Tullis, the Villages at Mt. Hood Board of Directors, Mt. Hood Skibowl Owner Kirk Hanna (yes that Kirk Hanna), the Executive Director of Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs Danielle Cowan, and others.

In a recent email to supporters of the Coalition, Wilson wrote:

“I feel big things about to happen for the villages of Mt. Hood, Government Camp and Timberline Lodge! I can’t help but feel a certain electrical charge in the air while thinking of all the cycling possibilities for our Hoodland communities. I’m proud to say there are several major players who are able to see the vision and benefits of becoming a cycling friendly community.”

Here’s a list of the group’s goals:

  • Advocate and seek funding for a Bicycle/Pedestrian a Master Plan, with safety being paramount.
  • Repair and improve our deteriorating roads to restore them to acceptable standards by eliminating pot holes and road defects that have become a danger to vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Develop partnerships with like-minded organizations that understand the value of cycling tourism.
  • Provide future bike lanes and or bike/ped pathways that connect the villages of Mt. Hood.
  • Support Timberline Lodge, Skibowl and the National Forest Service in their efforts to build a well thought-out plan for an improved Mountain Bike Skills Park.
  • Plan and develop a paved bicycle pathway that parallels Hwy. 26, allowing cyclists to ride from Welches to Government Camp/Timberline Lodge, with the ultimate goal of making the connection to the Spring Water Corridor, connecting Portland to Mt. Hood via bicycle.
  • Improve existing mountain bike trails from Timberline Lodge/Skibowl to Welches.

It’s exciting to see so much momentum for bicycling, walking, and transit access improvements along the Highway 26 corridor in and around Mt. Hood. On January 25th, the Mt. Hood Villages Town Hall meeting will focus on cycling and bicycle tourism. We’re sending BikePortland News Editor Michael Andersen to the meeting and stay tuned for his report.

ODOT plan will bring better bike access to Mt. Hood area

ODOT plan will bring better bike access to Mt. Hood area

Highway 26 through Rhododendron.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Reacting (in part) to the desires of more than 2,200 survey respondents, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is poised to implement several projects in the Mt. Hood area that will improve bicycling access.

As we reported back in August, wider shoulders on Highway 26 and Highway 35 were among a list of projects being considered as part of ODOT’s Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan. Last month, that plan’s Project Leadership Group (made up of ODOT, County, and federal “decision makers”) released their project recommendations (PDF). On that list are several projects in “Group A” that will impact bicycle access.

Here they are:

  • Mt. Hood Highway bike/pedestrian intersection improvements ‐‐ depending on where transit stops are located for enhanced transit service on US 26 and OR 35, there may be a lack of pedestrian or bike crossing facilities at those locations. This project would, in coordination with the community and the Oregon Department of Transportation, design safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle crossings across US 26. The project would encourage the development of enhanced pedestrian traffic control (example could be crosswalks or signals) to facilitate movement across US 26 (Rhododendron has been identified as one likely place for an enhanced crossing).
  • Mt. Hood Highway shoulder widening for bicyclist use ‐‐ There are many stretches of US 26 and OR 35 where shoulders are very narrow or nonexistent. Bicyclists rely on shoulders for travel through this area. This project would create a plan prioritizing shoulder widening locations in along US 26 and OR 35 . Shoulder widening would be targeted to areas based on need and cost.
  • Bike/pedestrian info along Mt. Hood Highway with maps to mountain biking, alternate routes to US 26/OR 35, hiking trails, etc. Wayfinding would be a key element. (This project is slated for completion in the “mid-term” or 3-7 years.)
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR 35 and OR 282 intersection ‐‐ The bike shoulders on southbound OR 35 end through this intersection, so bicyclists have to merge into high‐speed traffic at this location. In addition, bike lanes are not striped on OR 282 as it nears OR 35, so bicyclists have to enter the lane at the intersection. This project would stipe a bike lane on OR 282 approaching OR 35 and would look for ways to widen available space on OR 35 to allow for a bike lane on OR 35 south to the west of the dedicated right‐turn lane.
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR 35 and Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH) (E. State St.) in Hood River ‐‐ This intersection lacks striping for bicyclists headed east on HCRH to OR 35 north (or across the highway to the HCRH multi‐use path). The project would add bike lane striping (green striping potentially) for bicyclists headed east from the bike lane on HCRH to the OR 35 crossing.

There are other bicycle-related projects on the list, but the ones above are in “Project Group A” which have first priority for implementation and are expected to completed in 0 – 5 years.

If you’d like to learn more and/or weigh in on these projects, the Project Leadership Group is set to meet in Portland on Thursday, December 19th from 3:00 to 4:30 pm at ODOT Region 1 headquarters (123 NW Flanders, Conference Room A/B). The public is welcome.

— Read more about the Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan in our archives.

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

ODOT has created an interactive map of the projects.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has revealed their list of projects that could get funding through their Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP). Along with the list is an online survey where you can tell them which of the 40 projects you think are most important.

As we first covered back in March ODOT is putting a renewed focus on the highways that lead up to Mt. Hood (US 26/OR 35 between Sandy and Hood River) in an effort to improve safety and give people more options for traveling to and around the popular recreation area. This Multimodal Plan is a $650,000 effort to plan and then implement a number of small-scale projects that will make transit, walking, biking, and driving easier and safer.

The list of 40 projects unveiled this week has been whittled down from hundreds of ideas they’ve received in the past several months. They’ve split the projects into seven categories ranging from public (and private) transportation to parking management, the creation of new transportation organizations, basic road safety improvements, bike-related projects, and more. You can check out an interactive map of all 40 projects here, or see the four projects that specifically mention bicycling below…

  • Mt Hood Highway shoulder widening for bicyclist use — There are many stretches of US 26 and OR 35 where shoulders are very narrow or nonexistent. Bicyclists rely on shoulders for travel through this area. This project would widen shoulders in areas on US 26 and OR 35 where there are no or substandard shoulders. Shoulder widening would be targeted to areas based on need.
  • Bike/ped info along Mt Hood Highway with maps to mountain biking, alternate routes to US 26/OR 35, hiking trails etc. Wayfinding would be a key element.
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR 35 and Historic Columbia River Highway (E. State St.) in Hood River — This intersection lacks striping for bicyclists headed east on HCRH to OR 35 north (or across the highway to the HCRH multi-use path). The project would stripe a bike lane through the intersection to improve safety for bicyclists using this intersection.
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR-35 & OR 282 intersection — The bike shoulders on southbound OR 35 end through this intersection so bicyclists have to merge into high-speed traffic at this location. In addition, there are not bike lanes striped on OR 282 as it nears OR 35 so bicyclists have to enter the lane at the intersection. This project would stripe a bike lane on OR 282 and would widen OR 35 to allow for space to build a bike lane through the intersection.

In the online survey, the public is being asked to choose five projects from the list of 40 that they feel a stakeholder group should recommend to ODOT. “The MHMTP Project Leadership Group, made up of representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation, Clackamas and Hood River counties, and the US Forest Service, will ultimately decide which projects on the draft list are included in the plan,” an ODOT statement.

ODOT expects to have the plan completed by the end of the year. Projects selected will be implemented “within the next few years,” says ODOT.

Take the survey here.

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

ODOT has created an interactive map of the projects.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has revealed their list of projects that could get funding through their Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP). Along with the list is an online survey where you can tell them which of the 40 projects you think are most important.

As we first covered back in March ODOT is putting a renewed focus on the highways that lead up to Mt. Hood (US 26/OR 35 between Sandy and Hood River) in an effort to improve safety and give people more options for traveling to and around the popular recreation area. This Multimodal Plan is a $650,000 effort to plan and then implement a number of small-scale projects that will make transit, walking, biking, and driving easier and safer.

The list of 40 projects unveiled this week has been whittled down from hundreds of ideas they’ve received in the past several months. They’ve split the projects into seven categories ranging from public (and private) transportation to parking management, the creation of new transportation organizations, basic road safety improvements, bike-related projects, and more. You can check out an interactive map of all 40 projects here, or see the four projects that specifically mention bicycling below…

  • Mt Hood Highway shoulder widening for bicyclist use — There are many stretches of US 26 and OR 35 where shoulders are very narrow or nonexistent. Bicyclists rely on shoulders for travel through this area. This project would widen shoulders in areas on US 26 and OR 35 where there are no or substandard shoulders. Shoulder widening would be targeted to areas based on need.
  • Bike/ped info along Mt Hood Highway with maps to mountain biking, alternate routes to US 26/OR 35, hiking trails etc. Wayfinding would be a key element.
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR 35 and Historic Columbia River Highway (E. State St.) in Hood River — This intersection lacks striping for bicyclists headed east on HCRH to OR 35 north (or across the highway to the HCRH multi-use path). The project would stripe a bike lane through the intersection to improve safety for bicyclists using this intersection.
  • Bike intersection improvements at OR-35 & OR 282 intersection — The bike shoulders on southbound OR 35 end through this intersection so bicyclists have to merge into high-speed traffic at this location. In addition, there are not bike lanes striped on OR 282 as it nears OR 35 so bicyclists have to enter the lane at the intersection. This project would stripe a bike lane on OR 282 and would widen OR 35 to allow for space to build a bike lane through the intersection.

In the online survey, the public is being asked to choose five projects from the list of 40 that they feel a stakeholder group should recommend to ODOT. “The MHMTP Project Leadership Group, made up of representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation, Clackamas and Hood River counties, and the US Forest Service, will ultimately decide which projects on the draft list are included in the plan,” an ODOT statement.

ODOT expects to have the plan completed by the end of the year. Projects selected will be implemented “within the next few years,” says ODOT.

Take the survey here.

ODOT wants your thoughts on Mt. Hood travel options

ODOT wants your thoughts on Mt. Hood travel options

Mt. Hood could use more
travel options.
(Photo: ODOT)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released an online survey that seeks input to inform their Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan. As reported back in March, ODOT wants to make it easier and safer to bike, walk, and hop on a bus around Government Camp, Timberline Lodge, and all the other popular recreation destinations on Mt. Hood. The plan focuses specifically on reducing auto trips on highways 26 (Sandy) and 35 (Hood River).

ODOT Region 1 Project Planner Mike Mason told us in March that, “What we’re hoping to find are good ideas to reduce the number of people who feel they need to drive cars up there.”

In a statement released today, Mason said, “People travel along the Mount Hood highway corridor for many reasons… We want these people who use the highway to help shape the future of transportation on the mountain.”

The online survey asks for information about how people travel to and on the mountain (and yes, bikes are an option). It also asks people to judge, on a scale from one to 10, if “Bicycle safety is adequate along US 26 or OR 35.” There’s even the opportunity to share specific locations for intersection improvements. In the section on “transportation alternatives” the survey asks if people would support various transit and shuttle options if they were available. ODOT also wants to know whether people agree or disagree with the following statement: “I would support travel information or roadway enhancements that would improve conditions for bicycle travel up to and around the mountain.”

By this fall, ODOT expects to come up with a list of prioritized projects. The survey asks for feedback on the types of projects they already have in mind. Those projects include: Intersection improvements/realignments; transit to and from Mt Hood, more “pedestrian connections”, improved bike facilities”, more enforcement of traffic laws, and more.

The survey is open until May 31st. Take it here and let’s help ODOT make it easier to access Mt. Hood without a car.

Rhododendron to Sandy Ridge: An off-highway adventure

Rhododendron to Sandy Ridge: An off-highway adventure

Sandy Ridge in the snow-2

On a bike trail between Rhododendron
and Lolo Pass Rd.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last weekend I had the good fortune to spend a few nights in a friends’ cabin in Rhododendron, a sweet little community about 20 miles toward Mt. Hood from the town of Sandy. I brought my mountain bike along with hopes of riding at Sandy Ridge. I’m not very familiar with biking around Mt. Hood at all, but I managed to discover a nice route from the cabin to the trails and figured it’s worth sharing. The best part is that I was able to completely avoid riding on Highway 26.

This out-and-back begins in Rhododendron. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the starting point when you come to Mt. Hood Foods and the Dairy Queen which are just up from the electronic signboard and the Still Creek Road exit on Highway 26 (map). There are several places to park among the dozen or so eateries and motels. You’ll want to find East Arlie Mitchell Road right at the northwest exit from the Mt. Hood Foods parking lot.

Ride on East Arlie Mitchell for just a few hundred meters then go left on Forest Road 19/Zigzag River Road where Arlie Mitchell turns into East Henry Creek Road. One of the cool features of this ride is that you’ll be traveling along the historic Barlow Road Trail route. You’ll see signs for the route in several spots beginning at Road 19…

Sandy Ridge loop-7

A historic marker on E Barlow Trail Road.

A mile or so northwest (toward Portland) on Road 19 and it will end into a trail. Cars are no longer allowed, but biking is! This is a fun dirt trail that lasts for another mile or so and takes you through beautiful forests and creeks…

Sandy Ridge in the snow-1

Sandy Ridge in the snow-3

Sure beats riding on Highway 26 huh?!

Once the trail ends and turns back into a road, you’ll want to take a left (west) onto East Mountain Drive. This road takes you directly to Lolo Pass Road. Go right on Lolo Pass for 0.8 miles and take a left on East Barlow Trail Road (signs to Brightwood)…

Sandy Ridge loop-9

Sign at the junction of East Mountain Drive and Lolo Pass Road.
Sandy Ridge loop-1

Stop for the view off Lolo Pass Road.
Sandy Ridge in the snow-4

Lolo Pass Road

Stay on Barlow Trail Road for about six miles until you reach the Sandy Ridge trailhead sign. From here, you can do any loop or mix of trails in Sandy Ridge that you’d like. Given all the snow on the road, we just road up Homestead Road for a mile or so to the “Hide and Seek Cut-off” trail and came back down.

Sandy Ridge in the snow-6

Headed up Homestead Road in Sandy Ridge en route to the Hide and Seek Trail cut-off.
Sandy Ridge in the snow-7

Riding down Hide and Seek Trail.

And for a bonus, I used my new GoPro camera for the first time on the way down. Check out the footage:

For the way back, I just did the route in reverse. I think the total ride was about 22 miles or so. I mapped the route via Ride With GPS if you’d like the specifics. (Please note, since part of the route went on a trail, I wasn’t able to mark the part between Rhododendron and Lolo Pass Road).

I hope others get a chance to enjoy this route. I’ve got a lot more to learn and discover about riding on Mt. Hood and this ride definitely whet my appetite to get up there more often.

ODOT plans for a more multimodal Mt. Hood

ODOT plans for a more multimodal Mt. Hood

Highway 26 through Rhododendron.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) knows that if Mt. Hood is to remain a popular recreation destination there’s got to be a better way to get up there than driving in a car. Highways that connect to Mt. Hood are becoming magnets for congestion and crashes, so the agency has launched the Mt. Hood Mutlimodal Transportation Plan, a project they’re working on in partnership with the US Forest Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and Hood River and Clackamas Counties.

The impetus for this project (which includes Mt. Hood, Sandy, and Hood River) is the federal Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. Section 1207 of that law, under the heading “Tribal provisions, planning and studies” says that ODOT must develop, “an integrated, multimodal transportation plan for the Mount Hood region to achieve comprehensive solutions to transportation challenges.” Among those challenges, says ODOT Region 1 Project Planner Mike Mason is ever-increasing traffic and a history of crashes.

“There’s a lot of demand and interest in biking both on Highway 35 and 26.”
— Mike Mason, ODOT Region 1

Traffic to Mt. Hood is only expected to increase from the 2-5 million annual visitors it already gets and one huge growth area is bicycling. Mt. Hood is home to a hut-to-hut mountain biking system, popular singletrack trails, a growing number of mountain bike races and events, the Sandy Ridge trail system, the mountain bike park at Skibowl, and the Timberline MTB Bike Park which is expected to be open for business in summer 2014. Other bicycling trends around Mt. Hood are unsanctioned road races and fatbiking on snowmobile and cross-country ski trials.

“In the winter and summer months, there is a tremendous number of people who go up to the mountain for recreations,” said Mason during a phone call earlier this week, “During peak periods it’s really congested and dangerous. There are a lot of crashes.” Separate from this planning project, ODOT is already pumping $27 million dollars into “safety and preservation” projects like their U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Highway Safety Project.

While the Highway 26 project is aimed at making driving safer, Mason says the goal of their Multimodal Transportation Plan is to encourage fewer people to hop in a car to begin with. “What we’re hoping to find are good ideas to reduce the number of people who feel they need to drive cars up there.” He’s also aware that much of the Mt. Hood traffic comes from young people who may not even drive yet. “How are they going to up there?” he wonders.

Sandy Ridge in the snow-3

One of the many excellent bicycling
backroads just off Highway 26.

Due primarily to environmental constraints, Mason made it clear that expanding highway capacity for auto traffic is not on the table. “Widening the corridor is not going to happen,” he said. “This isn’t a typical ODOT highway planning project.”

“Are people interested in increased transit between Gresham and Sandy?” Mason asked rhetorically,”Does it make sense to have a park-and-ride and jump on a bus? What types of ways can we get fewer people driving up but still get them to the ski hills?” (It’s worth noting that The Mt. Hood Forest and Clackamas County were just awarded a transit grant for the “Mountain Express” bus service a few weeks ago.)

Mason spoke a lot about bicycling and access to existing bike trails. “We hear a lot from Hood River about people biking. There’s a lot of demand and interest in biking both on Highway 35 and 26.”

The implementation budget for the Multimodal Plan is meager, but ODOT could end up doing things like lane striping changes, improving the condition of roadway shoulders, improving access to trailheads, changing curb alignments, and so on. “This plan isn’t meant to include everything,” is how Mason put it, “What we’re aiming to do is come up with some affordable projects that can be implemented in the near term.”

This will be a very interesting plan to follow and involvement from people who bike on, to, or around Mt. Hood will be crucial. ODOT needs and wants to hear from you and they plan to have a “manageable list” or actions by this summer and implement them by the end of the year. Stay tuned for a survey and other options to share your input in the next few months.

Learn more at the official ODOT project page.

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ODOT plans for a more multimodal Mt. Hood

ODOT plans for a more multimodal Mt. Hood

Highway 26 through Rhododendron.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) knows that if Mt. Hood is to remain a popular recreation destination there’s got to be a better way to get up there than driving in a car. Highways that connect to Mt. Hood are becoming magnets for congestion and crashes, so the agency has launched the Mt. Hood Mutlimodal Transportation Plan, a project they’re working on in partnership with the US Forest Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and Hood River and Clackamas Counties.

The impetus for this project (which includes Mt. Hood, Sandy, and Hood River) is the federal Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. Section 1207 of that law, under the heading “Tribal provisions, planning and studies” says that ODOT must develop, “an integrated, multimodal transportation plan for the Mount Hood region to achieve comprehensive solutions to transportation challenges.” Among those challenges, says ODOT Region 1 Project Planner Mike Mason is ever-increasing traffic and a history of crashes.

“There’s a lot of demand and interest in biking both on Highway 35 and 26.”
— Mike Mason, ODOT Region 1

Traffic to Mt. Hood is only expected to increase from the 2-5 million annual visitors it already gets and one huge growth area is bicycling. Mt. Hood is home to a hut-to-hut mountain biking system, popular singletrack trails, a growing number of mountain bike races and events, the Sandy Ridge trail system, the mountain bike park at Skibowl, and the Timberline MTB Bike Park which is expected to be open for business in summer 2014. Other bicycling trends around Mt. Hood are unsanctioned road races and fatbiking on snowmobile and cross-country ski trials.

“In the winter and summer months, there is a tremendous number of people who go up to the mountain for recreations,” said Mason during a phone call earlier this week, “During peak periods it’s really congested and dangerous. There are a lot of crashes.” Separate from this planning project, ODOT is already pumping $27 million dollars into “safety and preservation” projects like their U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Highway Safety Project.

While the Highway 26 project is aimed at making driving safer, Mason says the goal of their Multimodal Transportation Plan is to encourage fewer people to hop in a car to begin with. “What we’re hoping to find are good ideas to reduce the number of people who feel they need to drive cars up there.” He’s also aware that much of the Mt. Hood traffic comes from young people who may not even drive yet. “How are they going to up there?” he wonders.

Sandy Ridge in the snow-3

One of the many excellent bicycling
backroads just off Highway 26.

Due primarily to environmental constraints, Mason made it clear that expanding highway capacity for auto traffic is not on the table. “Widening the corridor is not going to happen,” he said. “This isn’t a typical ODOT highway planning project.”

“Are people interested in increased transit between Gresham and Sandy?” Mason asked rhetorically,”Does it make sense to have a park-and-ride and jump on a bus? What types of ways can we get fewer people driving up but still get them to the ski hills?” (It’s worth noting that The Mt. Hood Forest and Clackamas County were just awarded a transit grant for the “Mountain Express” bus service a few weeks ago.)

Mason spoke a lot about bicycling and access to existing bike trails. “We hear a lot from Hood River about people biking. There’s a lot of demand and interest in biking both on Highway 35 and 26.”

The budget for this plan is $300,000 for outreach and planning and $350,000 for implementation (paid with funds from all project partners). With the implementations funds, ODOT says they could end up doing things like lane striping changes, improving the condition of roadway shoulders, improving access to trailheads, changing curb alignments, and so on. “This plan isn’t meant to include everything,” is how Mason put it, “What we’re aiming to do is come up with some affordable projects that can be implemented in the near term.”

This will be a very interesting plan to follow and involvement from people who bike on, to, or around Mt. Hood will be crucial. ODOT needs and wants to hear from you and they plan to have a “manageable list” or actions by this summer and implement them by the end of the year. Stay tuned for a survey and other options to share your input in the next few months.

Learn more at the official ODOT project page.