Columbia River Gorge Biking/Hiking Tour

My husband and I spontaneously decided to head down to Portland, Oregon over the weekend to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  We bought two round-trip Amtrak tickets, booked accommodations, and found a great day trip adventure with Pedal Bike Tours.

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Amtrak at King Street Station, Seattle, WA

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Pedal Bike Tours, Portland, OR

We chose the Columbia River Gorge Tour because of its’ combination of biking and hiking while exploring several waterfalls along the way.  When we arrived at Pedal Bike Tours early Friday morning, we were excited to hear that no one else had signed up for the Columbia River Gorge Tour.  Since it was just the two of us and our guide, Evan, we were able to enjoy a customized tour at our own pace.  After a 45 minute drive from Portland, our tour began with views of the Columbia River Valley from the Portland Women’s Forum viewpoint.

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My husband, Gary and I enjoying the view of the Columbia River Valley from the Portland Women’s Forum viewpoint , OR

From this point, we hopped on our bikes and headed down the Historic Columbia River Highway with instructions from our guide on where to go next.  Evan was a great tour guide who added extra miles of biking and additional hikes to our tour while entertaining us with Oregon history throughout the day.  Our next stop was the Vista House with more panoramic views of the valley below including our final biking destination.

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Columbia River Valley view from Vista House, Oregon

With record breaking temperatures reaching 90°+, it was so nice knowing our next stop was our first waterfall.  After a short distance of bike riding and hiking, it was so refreshing to feel the mist of Latourell Falls.

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Latourell Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway, OR

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Gary and I at Latourell Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway, OR

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Gary exploring Latourell Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway, OR

Another short bike ride and hike brought us to Shepperd’s Dell State Park to view Shepperd’s Dell Falls.  I loved exploring the very well maintained, paved trails in this area.

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Shepperd’s Dell State Park, OR

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Shepperd’s Dell Falls, Shepperd’s Dell State Park, OR

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Shepperd’s Dell State Park, OR

Our next stop was the magical Bridal Veil Falls.  As you hike along the trail, it is hidden behind a small slot canyon and a very large rock.  Even though several other hikers were around, something about this waterfall felt very private and tranquil.

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Bridal Veil Falls, Bridal Veil Falls State Park, OR

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, Bridal Veil Falls State Park, OR

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, Bridal Veil Falls State Park, OR

It was time to get back on  our bikes and put some miles behind us.  Once again we were riding along the scenic Historic Columbia River Highway twisting and turning our way through the valley.  Our next stop was the very popular Multnomah Falls located just off the highway.  Because we had already visited this location before, my husband and I chose to bypass it and head to our final destination.

Ponytail Falls was my favorite stop of the day!  I enjoyed the short, vigorous hike up to a hike behind the waterfall.  Hiking behind a waterfall was something I had only dreamed about up until this point.

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Gary and I behind Ponytail Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway, OR

This was the perfect ending to another adventure with my best friend.  With 15 years wonderful behind us, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Wednesday 05/27/2015

An elk herd along Dosewallips Road before the washout

An elk herd along Dosewallips Road near Olympic National Park, WA

The valley following the Dosewallips River into the Olympic Mountains is a great area for camping, hiking, and biking.  Last November my husband and I spent one weekend yurt camping at Dosewallips State Park.  As we made our way towards the Olympic National Park Dosewallips Ranger Station, now abandoned due to a road washout in 2002, a large herd of elk crossed the road in front of our car.

Wildlife Wednesday 04/01/2015

A robin along the trail on Lopez Island, WA

A robin along the trail on Lopez Island, WA

As I walked along the trail in Shark Reef Sanctuary I noticed several robins in the trees.  This one stopped for a moment allowing me take a few photographs.  The constant chirping of the birds could be heard throughout the entire hike towards the coast.

Wildlife Wednesday 03/25/2015

A bald eagle near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

A bald eagle near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

I photographed this eagle as it flew across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca near Shark Reef Sanctuary on Lopez Island, WA.  The island is a great place to explore on bicycle and all of the trailheads have bike racks.  After a short, but very muddy hike lots of opportunities for wildlife viewing are available at this location.

Lopez Island Bike Riding Day Trip

26.5 miles /  1060′ elevation gain

Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez island, WA

Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

With springtime just around the corner, my husband and I had decided it’s time to dust off our bikes and put the rack back on the car.  Ever since our first visit to Lopez Island we knew we wanted to go back with our bikes, and now was the perfect time to make that happen.  We woke up early enough to arrive at the Anacortes ferry parking lot with time to spare before the 9:25 am ferry departure.  After quick maintenance to our bikes and loading up our gear we left our car behind and headed for the bike passenger loading area.  We chatted with other bikers as we anticipated the arrival of the ferry and met a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary!  We each shared stories of our previous adventures in the San Juan Islands and learned about what to look forward to during our journey that day.  Once the ferry arrived we walked our bikes across the car parking lanes towards the front of the boat.  Here we were once again starting an adventure on a WA state ferry in the Puget Sound – one of my favorite things to do!

After a quick 35 minute ferry ride we unloaded and stood in the waiting area as less than 10 cars drove off the boat onto Lopez Island.  It was time for our biking adventure to begin, and it started with an uphill climb right away.  Even though a cool morning air still lingered, the climb warmed us up quickly causing the need to stop and shed layers early in the trip.  We continued to bike our way along Ferry Road which eventually makes a right turning into Fisherman Bay Road.  As we winded along the roads of Lopez Island I couldn’t help but notice the interesting road names and charming signs throughout the island.

Wild Goose Chase Road, Lopez Island, WA

Wild Goose Chase Way Lopez Island, WA

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Longandwinding Road, Lopez Island, WA

"Imagine Global Unity," Lopez Island, WA

“Imagine Global Unity,” Lopez Island, WA

We made our way along Fisherman Bay Road meandering through the rural farmlands speckled throughout the island.  The very limited amount of traffic made for comfortable and safe bike travel throughout the day with smiling drivers waving as they passed.  We detoured into Lopez Village making a quick stop at the local market before making our way back south around Fisherman Bay.  As we neared the southernmost point of the bay, we headed west and eventually north along Bayshore Road towards Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve.  The ride along Bayshore Road was spectacular with views of the bay to our east and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to our west.  As we headed north, signs led us along smaller roads through a small forested area towards Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve.  We were pleased to find a bike rack at the trailhead parking as we locked our bikes up and headed for the beach.  A short trail winds through driftwood leading us to the beach.  We found a log to sit on giving us front row views of the crashing waves and sailboats.  As the the sun warm our backs, we noticed a sun halo around it just above the bay to our east.

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Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve, Lopez island, WA

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Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve, Lopez island, WA

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Sun halo over Fisherman Bay, Lopez island, WA

After resting and refueling we made our way back towards the trailhead and our bikes.  We headed south down Bayshore Road once again, but this time a boat plane flew just above our heads and landed in the bay alongside us.  We hopped back onto Fisherman Bay Road, but turned off shortly afterwards onto Airport Road towards Shark Reef Sanctuary.  Knowing that this was a great location for wildlife viewing as we have been here once before, we were excited to visit this area once again.  We parked our bikes happy to find another bike rack at the trailhead located near the end of Shark Reef Road.  The trail towards the western edge of the island was short but very muddy.  Trudging through the muddy trail became a distant memory once the panoramic views of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca came into sight.  The trail makes its’ way to the very edge of the coastline ending with panoramic views to the west.  Cattle Point Lighthouse on San Juan Island is the backdrop to amazing wildlife viewing.  A large rock just of the shoreline had become the resting place for several dozen sunbathing harbor seals.  We were surrounded by the sights and sounds of wildlife including harbor seals, eagles, seagulls,  and Canadian geese.  The combination of the surrounding wildlife with the crashing waves along the shoreline and the ocean breeze upon our faces was serene.

Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, WA

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, WA

Harbor seals near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Harbor seals near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Harbor seals near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Harbor seals near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

A bald eagle flying over Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

A bald eagle flying over Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Canadian geese near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Canadian geese near Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

It was hard to pack up my camera and leave this beautiful wildlife sanctuary behind, but hunger was calling us back towards the bay for lunch.  After a quick lunch and afternoon cocktail at Lopez Islander Bay Resort we were back on our bikes this time headed towards Spencer Spit State Park.  We made  our way east across Lopez Island on Hummel Creek Road.  After slowly making our way uphill, the road flattens out and meanders along the countryside passing Hummel Lake to the south.  We made our way north turning onto Port Stanley Road then headed downhill along Bakerview Road towards Spencer Spit State Park.  We left ours bikes at another trailhead for the last time and quickly made our way downhill towards Spencer Spit.  With the ferry departure time nipping at our heels, I hurriedly snapped a few photographs and soaked in the peaceful surroundings.

Spencer Spit State Park, Lopez Island, WA

Spencer Spit State Park, Lopez Island, WA

It was mostly uphill from here both on foot back towards the trailhead and on bike towards the ferry landing.  Knowing it would take us longer to make our way uphill on the bikes, we moved as quickly as our bodies allowed. The ride up Port Stanley Road meanders alongside Swifts Bay to the east of the island.  We made our final push northwards connecting back to Ferry Road once more.  With my body pushed to its’ limits, I welcomed the top of the final hill I would climb on my bike that day.  We cruised downward towards the northernmost tip of Lopez Island headed towards our last stop back at the ferry landing.  We arrived with time to spare which allowed us to stretch and rest our aching muscles.  My husband and I were the only bike riders leaving Lopez Island on the 6:10 pm ferry to Anacortes that day with only a handful of vehicles.  We had the ferry with Mount Baker and Cascade Mountain views all to ourselves as we made our way towards our final destination.