Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory Byways – Self Guided – 7 days or more

Byways_Map

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“Oregon’s Scenic Byways offer a rich taste of all the grandeur and diversity the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Outstanding natural beauty and many sites of historical and cultural significance have earned Oregon more designated Scenic Byways and Tour Routes than any other state.”
excerpted from Oregon’s Official State Driving Guide

Riding these Byways is never more thrilling than when experienced from the seat of a motorcycle. The immediate sensations of the curve in the road, the aroma of a campfire, the sunshine on your face – all conspire to make the exquisite beauty of Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory unbeatably personal.

Day 1 – Fly into Oregon at Portland International Airport (PDX), voted “the best airport in America.” Hit the road driving east toward gorgeous Mt. Hood. You will drive through Mt. Hood National Forest with its access to waterfalls, wildlife and wildflowers. Continue on US Hwy 26 towards the town of Welches. Bikers wanting to minimize packing and unpacking by centring their explorations from one prime location can do no better than to settle in for several nights at The Resort at the Mountain or one of the area’s diverse vacation rentals. For your first evening, check in at The Spa for a great soak and massage that will work out the kinks of your long flight and get you ready for the rides of your life.

Day 2 – If you have people in your posse who may not want to ride all day every day, those alternative-seeking travellers will thank you for positioning yourself at the doorway to Mt. Hood. Visit the Zigzag Ranger District for the latest on which trails are seasonally most scenic, work your magic on 18 holes of golf at The Resort, cast off for a day of alpine fishing, or grab a cup of epic hot chocolate from a perch at historic Timberline Lodge (the 7 mile road up to the Lodge is great from the seat of a Harley and will look familiar if you’ve ever seen “The Shining.”) The Mt. Hood Scenic Byway – Route 10

Day 3 – Head north on Highway 35 through the Hood River Valley, a patchwork of orchards, vineyards and farms. Some of Oregon’s finest bounty lies in the pears, apples, huckleberries and wild mushrooms that dot the landscape. When you reach Hood River, check out the micro-brew scene, watch the colourful windsurfers bob on the wide Columbia River, and take time to detour from the unforgettable Gorge views with a turn out into the Historic Columbia River Highway to the numerous waterfalls that lie just beyond Highway 84. As you drive from Troutdale to Sandy, the high bluffs give away to pastoral land. Just north of Sandy, you’ll discover the Oregon Trail interpretive site at Jonsrud Viewpoint. As you enter the City of Sandy, stop at Toll Gate Inn for fresh-baked treats and a slice of Pioneer ambience before returning to Mt. Hood for an evening of live music at local favourite “Skyway Bar and Grill.” Routes 10 & 1.

The 220 mile West Cascades Scenic Byway runs north to south, skirting the northern half of Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range. Drive South from Mt. Hood on delicious back roads to the walkable town of Estacada, known for its vibrant Arts community. Harmony Bakery serves up fresh home baked cinnamon bread, so stop for picnic provisions and your day riding past white-water and around breathtaking curves. This Byway is a favourite with the two-wheeled crowd, so expect to see a few kindred souls along the way. You’ll drive along a stretch of river  popular with trout anglers in the spring and summer. Not far from the highway is Bagby Hot Springs, a 30 minute hike takes you to a rustic setting with huge hollowed out cedar logs where you can dip in for a relaxing soak. Cross over the mountain ridge, continue south along the Breitenbush River and into the lovely Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area. Circle back to Mt. Hood traveling north on Highway 26 through Warm Springs Indian Reservation, perhaps stopping for an hour at the KahNeeTa blackjack tables. Route 5.

Day 4Oregon Wine Country with its brilliant vistas of blooming flowers and frequent sightings of curious critters such as elk, alpaca and lambs offer a day of diverse countryside for the seeing and doing. Make your way down through the tiny town of Canby, visit the half-timbered, Euro-feeling St. Josef’s Winery, and in summer months stop for a chance to pick berries from any number of farms on the Oregon Farm Loops. Ride through Mt. Angel with its old-time Bavarian influence, south to Silverton and on to sparkling Silver Falls State Park. Return to your home base with a straight shot north along Interstate 5, taking time to shop at Woodburn Premium Shopping Outlets, picking up all the taxfree, name-brand gear you can load on your motorcycle. Route 17

Day 5 – Consider moving your hub of operations from the environs of lofty Mt. Hood closer to the historic richness of Clackamas or Oregon City, located just 20 minutes outside of Portland’s city centre and offering value-priced accommodations. Unpack only once but position yourself for even more Scenic Byway beauty. These communities feature good public transportation, extensive shopping and the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center with its early American story. Join eNRG Kayaking and paddle flat-water past Native American petro glyphs, through historic locks, and up to one of the largest waterfalls in the United States. It also is a prime spot to start your explorations along Route 18, with a backdrop of the rugged foothills of the Coast Range and myriad farm stands and orchards. On a clear day, expect clear views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Return for a dinner to be remembered at the Highland Stillhouse. Choose fish and chips, an Oregon microbrew or one of the many scotch whiskeys.

Day 6 – No motorcycle trip to Oregon is complete without some ocean time. Riding the coast north to south allows for easy turnouts at the numerous stunning viewpoints. It’s not uncommon to see whales, as resident pods live at various points off the Oregon Coast. Lighthouses, long beach walks, saltwater taffy and dramatic scenery will be part of your day on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.  By the end of your day, you’ll have a full appreciation of why the Oregon Coast is one of the most photographed regions in the nation. Spring and fall is salmon season, so anglers may want to book a charter boat out of Tillamook Bay. Route 4.

Day 7 – By now you can tell that one week is simply not enough time to ride the incomparable Scenic Byways of Oregon. Ride back this way soon!

This suggested itinerary courtesy of Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affair.

So 7 days are not enough, click here for a 12 Days exploring the 7 Wonders of Oregon and much more.

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