Thursday, September 3, 2009

Columbia River Bike Trail

Yesterday, I went on a ride on the bike trail by the Columbia River. I've looked to see if there's a name for the trail, but I couldn't find it, so I'm just gonna refer to it as the Columbia River Bike Trail.

Columbia River Bike Trail
(does this qualify as a Panda portrait?)

It is a perfectly nice scenic bike trail much like the Springwater Trail which runs through South East Portland, but for various reasons, it doesn't seem to be quite as popular. I think the main reason is that it is relatively far from the residential area of Portland. The trail is about 6 miles from where I live and 2 miles from the nearest residential area.

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you some pictures and some thoughts I had about the ride.

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We'll begin at the Peninsula Park in North Portland which is about a mile from my place and it has a nice rose garden. From there, I took Ainsworth St. Eastward all the way to 33rd Ave. where I turned left. About Ainsworth, it's a very nice street with relatively little traffic and it takes you through town quickly without having to stop too often, but it doesn't have bike lanes and has on-street parking instead. It would be so much better if they got rid of the on-street parking and installed bike lanes. There's plenty of places for car parking on side streets there. I'm getting side tracked, but I think it's good to maybe write these kinds of things. After you turn onto 33rd Ave, you go Northward and cross over Lombard St. where it can seem a bit scary on a bike, but mostly it just seems like it and not so much in reality. After that, you continue up North on 33rd Ave. until right before NE Marine Drive, there is a separate bike path to which you can turn left to get to.

Columbia River Bike Trail

From there, you ride parallel with Marine Dr. Eastward for about a half mile and then cross Marine Dr. and ride on the path next to Columbia River. This is a pretty nice area with some parts of the shore being sandy beaches. It's a nice place for some Summertime river fun.

Columbia River Bike Trail

The grasses along the path were all brown during the Summer, but now it's turning more green and there's some flowers as well. This area is just North of the Portland International Airport (PDX) and as your ride, you will see the airport terminal get larger.

Columbia River Bike Trail
(PDX terminal to the right)

The path continues all the way until past the I-205 freeway and then you have to ride on Marine Dr. 's bike lane for a while until the path starts again on the Southern side of the street.

Columbia River Bike Trail

This portion of the path is between the highway and some buildings, so it's not quite as scenic. You also have to cross some streets a couple of times and stop if there's traffic. A lot of people (or the majority of the few cyclists) seemed to stay on the highway bike lane as it was easier. The bike path then crossed to the Northern side of the highway again and I found this area to be the most scenic part of the whole ride.

Columbia River Bike Trail

Maybe you can't tell the difference from before with this picture, but I think it seemed nicer maybe because it was more cut off from the highway and it seems like it's mostly just the path and the river. The path didn't go on too long before it came to an end though.

Columbia River Bike Trail

Apparently the shore beyond this point was Private Property.

I think that was maybe because of this.

Columbia River Bike Trail

Houses on the river!

seems like a fun place to live. What looks like garages, I would guess contain boats.

Found a strange sign there (if you look closely at the picture).

Columbia River Bike Trail

Is that a nuke shelter submerged in the river!?

If I'd been a young teenager, I might've tried to sneak in and see what that was.

Anyway, this seemed like a good place to turn back, so I took a break there at the riverbank and had a little treat.

Columbia River Bike Trail

I rode back the exact way I came.

The thing about this trail is that much of it is very exposed to the wind, so you may have to pedal harder at times than in other places, but you will also have the benefit of the tail wind at times. It's a little cut off from the residential areas with the 2 miles in between being kind of a bland highway with warehouses and office parks. Most of the cyclists I saw on the trail were more of the sporty kind too.

I think if the way there was more interesting and if the bike path continued uninterrupted, it could see more use by other kinds of bike folks as well. You also have the 2 freeways nearby which crosses to the state of Washington. I heard it's possible to cross the I-5 by bike, but that it can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing. It would be cool to be able to bike to Washington easily as it is actually pretty close. I think developing this area to be more bike friendly and have easy bike access into Washington would be a very worthwhile thing.

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