Hood River Bike Stop | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Hood River Bike Stop

A grippy network of trails, awesome eats and other reasons to love our neighbors to the north

click to enlarge Hood River Bike Stop
Sefano Spedini
Emily Carr navigates a switchback in Post Canyon—in a cycling dress.
So you live in Bend, alias, "Mountain Bike Mecca." Props to you, big shooter—yet maybe you're finding yourself craving a trail you haven't ridden before, and maybe one a bit less dusty this time of year. If your recreational budget affords you a few extra hours to kill, heading to Hood River to ride Post Canyon may very well be your perfect day.

Who it's for: Post Canyon's vast network of trails is kinda like the Phil's of Hood River—so if you enjoy mountain biking, pick your poison, and skill level. The trails also welcome hikers.

Directions: Head north on Hwy. 97 and merge onto Hwy. 26 toward Mt. Hood, and then onto Hwy. 35 north to Hood River. Post Canyon is just 4 miles west of town.

Gear: I ride around Bend on a hardtail, but I decided to step up my game and got a full suspension demo from Hood River bike shop, Mountain View Cycles. Owner Rafe Lehner hooked me up with a sweet women's Trek Fuel EX8 with 29-inch wheels.

This Perfect Day: The day starts with me visiting my cousin's newborn twins—perfect, to be sure—followed by proper espresso in the kitchen of Stefano Spedini, co-founder of Biciclista US, a Portland and Italy-based bike apparel company. Spedini asks if we'll do a beta test of his newest invention, the cycling dress. This first line is decidedly mid-century. After sporting them from trail to street with the pleasure of not looking too bike-nerdy, my friend and I, Perfect Day Poet Laureate, Dr. Emily Carr, are in support.

Post Canyon is by far the most popular set of trails in Hood River, says Pierce Hodges at Mountain View Cycles, though when the trails are wet, riders often head to Syncline, on the Washington side of the Columbia River, directly across from the town of Mosier, Ore. I don't ask him for his really super-secret spots—because, well, secret spots.

Are the trails crowded? Do people complain about rapid growth in Hood River? The Bend-based journalist in me has to ask.

"Some people will complain that they're horribly crowded, and Hood River is definitely busier than it was a few years ago," Hodges responds. "The dynamic has shifted, but it's also not... it doesn't get too, too busy."

Overall, "it's a really friendly community as far as riders go," Hodges says. "You can ask for directions in any given area and people are always super friendly."

While our ride diverts a bit from Post Canyon's "Hot Lap," it doesn't stray far from that popular loop. We begin in the Family Man staging area and make our way to 8 Track, which climbs the canyon in a series of steep switchbacks. It's a puffer, to be sure, but since our lungs are accustomed to higher elevation, we're perhaps puffing a bit less. Every once in a while, vistas of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood or the area's vast inland orchards peek through the trees. It's tough not to look out—but doing so while moving can land one down a cliff. I know; it nearly happened to me. Our ride eventually continues on the fast, fun and jumpy Bad Motor Scooter, then out across Mitchell Ridge where we're treated to even more gorgeous views. With a mix of steep climbs, all those viewy payoffs and grippy, red clay-type dirt, we get a number of delights riders don't often find in Bend.

The day ends with leisure time along the sunny Gorge, watching windsurfers conquer the mighty winds. Who knows—the next Perfect Day might have to involve these noobs trying out yet another new activity....

click to enlarge Hood River Bike Stop
pFriem's proper bratwurst and delicious sides.

Bonus eats: pFriem Family Brewers, full stop. In addition to pouring some of the most inventive beers in the region—OK, maybe the country—the menu is stellar, and the river location is a visitor's must-do. The bratwurst came proper, with warm sauerkraut and Liege potato salad laced with lardons. My companion had a veggie version of the pimento burger, equally delicious. Oh, and beers. A tall glass of Wit is just about the perfect libation for this perfect day.

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. You can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis.
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