Portland-Crater Lake Loop

Trip Dates:
Aug 02, 2014 -- Aug 16, 2014
Portland, OR
Booking Status:

Keep your camera handy for this scenery-rich trip along Oregon’s Sierra region. This trip starts in downtown bike-friendly Portland, with a full day of city bike touring and exploration, including an excursion on the aerial tram. We’ll then follow Adventure Cycling’s Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail into the Columbia River Gorge, followed by the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route over some of the Cascade Range’s most challenging terrain as you spin into the Deschutes National Forest.

The trip will reach a crescendo at the volcanic rim of deep-blue Crater Lake. After two nights at this stunning location, we will head downhill to Klamath Falls where we will board the Amtrak Coast Starlight train for a relaxing 7-hour trip back to Portland.

Start Date: Aug 02, 2014 End Date: Aug 16, 2014
Start Location: Portland, OR End Location: Portland, OR
Total Days: 15 Riding Days: 11
Rest Days: 4 Miles: 535
Average Daily Mileage: 48.6 Surface: Paved
Riders: 14 Elevation Alert: Significant cumulative gains
Airport: Portland Intl. Tour Leader: Lee Goode , Lynn Hamilton
Meals: Shared cooking Accommodations: Camping
Type: Self Contained Physical Difficulty: Advanced
Level of Support: Self Contained Cost: $1,599.00

Day 1

Portland, Oregon. You’ll meet up with your tour leader and the rest of your new cycling adventurers for a late-evening orientation at a hostel in the heart of beautiful downtown Portland. The hostel is located in the historic Nob Hill/Northwest district, a very popular and trendy area in Portland’s city center.

Day 2

Portland, 35-mile loop. We will wake up to a great breakfast prepared in the full kitchen at the hostel. We’ll then take some time to make last minute adjustments to our bikes before heading out on a 25-mile bike exploration of some of the best bike routes and bike paths in the city. We’ll take our bikes up the aerial tram high above the city to enjoy the views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Adams. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy the wonderful descent back to the city center where we will have time to check out some of the great bike shops and cycling-specific retailers that help make Portland a world-class cycling destination. When we return to the hostel we’ll share a meal, divide the group gear between us, and review the maps for our upcoming mountainous adventure.

Day 3

Portland to Cascade Locks, 43 miles. We will wake up early to take advantage of the cool morning and head out of downtown Portland, following parts of Adventure Cycling’s Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail eastward along the Columbia River Gorge. The first climb of the trip will take us along the Historic Columbia River Highway to Vista House, nearly 1000 feet above the river, for some spectacular views of the gorge. The rest of the day will be mostly downhill or fairly flat giving us plenty of time to explore some popular sites including Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Multnomah Falls. We will camp at a state park not far from Cascade Locks.

Day 4

Cascade Locks to Hood River, 35 miles. Our journey continues east today along the Historic Columbia River Highway and in some places adjacent to the river. After a gentle climb of a few hundred feet, we’ll descend into the town of Cascade Locks, a great second-breakfast location. Soon we’ll roll through the thriving town of Hood River, where you can grab some ice cream and watch the windsurfers and kitesurfers on the Columbia River. Our camp on the Hood River is just a stone’s throw away from a local store known for its delicious pies and huckleberry shakes.

Day 5

Hood River to Frog Lake, 44 miles. Today you’ll ascend the east flank of Mt. Hood for one of the trip’s longest climbs. You’ll be climbing almost all day, but beautiful views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding countryside will be your reward. Today’s route will take you over 4,674-foot Bennett Pass and 4,024-foot Blue Box pass before you reach the shores of Frog Lake, our camp for the night.

Day 6

Frog Lake to Detroit, 63 miles. On today’s ride you’ll journey through the Mt. Hood National Forest, the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and the Willamette National Forest. The ride won’t be without some good climbs, but there will be some great downhill runs as well. You’ll also enjoy the solitude of Douglas firs on quiet Forest Service roads that almost seem like private bike paths. While most of the route is remote national forest, at the end of the day you’ll arrive in the popular tourist town of Detroit and spend the night lakeside at a nicely equipped state park campground.

Day 7

Detroit to Sisters, 60 miles. Today we’ll be back in civilization. You’ll be amazed at the difference between the wet west side of the Cascade mountain range and the dry east side. As you ride into Sisters, try to keep your eyes on the road — the views of the Three Sisters and other Cascade peaks will certainly draw your attention. Tonight we’ll camp in Sisters.

Day 8

Layover day, Sisters. Today we’ll take a rest day in Sisters. Lounge in your tent with a good book, head out for some kayaking, hiking, or shopping, or pampering yourself at one of the local spas. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to stop at one of Sisters’ restaurants or coffee shops.

Day 9

Sisters to Elk Lake, 56 miles. Today you’ll leave Sisters and enjoy some steady climbing along Century Drive in the Deschutes National Forest. You’ll pass Mount Bachelor, high mountain lakes, and prairies. The landscape was largely formed by volcanoes, making for stunning views at the campsite near the shores of Elk Lake.

Day 10

Elk Lake to Crescent Lake, 48 miles. Today you’ll continue through the high prairies and pine forests of the Deschutes National Forest. This is remote country, but worth the trip. Today’s terrain features undulating hills without any major climbs. We will camp at a developed site near Crescent Lake with some great swimming.

Day 11

Crescent Lake to Diamond Lake, 59 miles. This day takes you to the historic Diamond Lake Resort, which was built in the 1920s as a modest fishing lodge. You’ll have plenty of time to relax along the shores because we’re camping within inches of the lake, a short distance from both a pizza place and an ice cream shop.

Day 12

Diamond Lake to Crater Lake National Park, 21 miles. Today’s climbing will bring us to the crescendo of our trip, the deep blue waters of Crater Lake. You can’t help but be inspired by the immeasurable beauty offered up by this volcanic lake as you imagine centuries of rain and snow filling the caldera. Arriving early in the day, there should be time for an optional 33-mile bike ride around the rim, or to find a special quiet place to take in the view. We will spend the night at one of the gems of the National Park system, the beautiful Crater Lake Lodge, located right on the rim.

Day 13

Layover day, Crater Lake National Park. Spend the day hiking on a nearby trail, exploring the visitor center, enjoying a boat ride on Crater Lake, or cycling around the absolutely spectacular rim road if you didn’t have a chance to do it yesterday. Or, you may just want to relax on the veranda of the Crater Lake Lodge overlooking the lake. We will spend a second night at the lodge and have a celebratory dinner in the dining room: We’ll have cycled nearly 500 miles and climbed over 25,000 feet in ten days to get to this spectacular location!

Day 14

Crater Lake to Klamath Falls, 71 miles. We can consider getting up a bit late this morning, enjoying our last glimpses of Crater Lake, and then savoring our final day of cycling. Virtually every inch of today's travel is downhill, save one 3-mile climb, and will be much appreciated after a challenging two weeks of cycling. We will explore downtown Klamath Falls where we will stay in a small motel just a few blocks from the Amtrak station. After dinner we will head over to the station to pack our bikes and then walk back to our comfortable motel rooms.

Day 15

Klamath Falls to Portland, by train. We’ll get up early this morning to board the Amtrak Coast Starlight train for a relaxing ride back to Portland, enjoying a meal or two on the train and mingling with other travelers. It may have taken us 14 days of cycling to get to Klamath Falls, but in 7 short hours the train will drop us off in downtown Portland, just a short distance from the hostel where our adventure began.

"I loved the social interactions with the other tour participants. Also we were on some perfect cycling roads that are hard to find."

2013 Tour Participant

Photo by Gregg Bleakney