New Tire Ride Around Hood

Vista House Motorcycle Parking

Kevin’s Ninja 250 and my Hawk GT enjoying the view.

Finally after waiting and saving all summer I had cash to buy a new front tire. To celebrate and have a mandatory break in the tire ride, Kevin and I decided on a trip out to Multnomah Falls. We started with breakfast, taking the back roads to get to McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, to try their Black Rabbit Restaurant for brunch. We had never been to the restaurant and were quite curious to try it out since it appears to be a step above the other McMenamins establishments. The restaurant is located a few paces inside the main entrance to the lodge at Edgefield; this being a weekday we strolled right up to the hostess and got a booth immediately. The dining room walls are covered with fanciful murals done in a story book illustration style with bright colors and narrative feel.

Before departing the house, we inspected the menu of a couple restaurants to decide where to go and had pretty much already decided what we wanted, thus ordering came easily. Of course, being me, I had to ask for modifications. I wanted the veggie scramble without cheese, lactose does not agree with me, and the waiter complied and even said he would ask the chef to cook it in oil rather than butter, which I was quite surprised, and pleased, about. One of the main menu items that drew us to this restaurant over our other choices was the gluten free pancakes. I asked if they were dairy free and to my extreme delight they were! Thus, I had to have a GF pancake with my veggie scramble instead of toast. Kevin ordered the three egg omelet with bacon, sweet onions, and Gruyère.

When our food arrived, the sights and smells brought smiles to our faces, and the gigantic size of the GF pancake was astonishing! The pancake was indeed the highlight of my meal, light, fluffy, and guaranteed not to cause crippling gluten headaches. Kevin’s meal elevated our restaurant rating much higher than expected. I even had to try a bite of his omelet due to his enthusiasm over the dish. The onions were perfectly caramelized giving the omelet an unexpected sweetness. I’m not a huge fan of omelets, but this one could be the only one I might consider ordering.

It's Gorgious!

It’s Gorgeous!

After breakfast we hopped on our bikes and headed east on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Having a brand new front tire immediately improved my confidence with my front end, and thus my vigor for going on a long ride. The new ease with which my Hawk dove into turns made me hungry for twisties. The Historic Columbia River Highway is an excellent road, except for the low speed limits, and often corner clogging tourists creeping along at 30 mph. Once we reached the Vista House, I shared my hunger for more lean angle and we discussed possible add-ons to our journey. We had intended to head out to Multnomah Falls as a warm-up, and then cruise back south and take Highway 224 out to the Ripple Brook Ranger Station, which is our back yard ride, but on this perfect weather day with a thin layer of clouds and temperatures not threatening more than 78 degrees, we gave into my desire for speed and our curiosity for exploring the forest roads. We decided to continue east to Hood River and loop around Mount Hood to the south to then hit the unknown in the Mt. Hood National Forest roads to wind our way back to Highway 224.

I had been out to Hood River on a motorcycle before and knew that Interstate 84 is quite a snooze as with most any interstate, but I hoped that on the back side of Hood we might find some excitement, so east we went.

Just as we were leaving town I saw this Hawk and couldn't help parking next to it to snap a couple photos and compare mods.

Just as we were heading out of town I saw this Hawk GT and couldn’t help parking next to it to snap a couple photos and compare mods.

Once we arrived in Hood River, we required beverages and bathrooms. We circled a few blocks, pulling over several times to decide where to go. I said, “let’s just go to the Full Sail Brewery,” since I had been before, and it is off the main drag and might give us better parking options. It seems as if this was a popular stop for motorcycles as there were already three parking spaces packed with bikes scattered along the front of the building. Neither of us had any interest in food yet, or alcoholic beverages, so we ended up with only water and a nice rest. We took this opportunity to do the last of our mapping since we figured there would be no cell service out in the woods.

After my escapade with this patriotic Hawk GT, which was the same year as mine, we headed south on Highway 35. I had never been on this road on a motorcycle before so didn’t know if it would be a fun one or not. The views along this stretch were wonderful, but the road didn’t feed my need to scuff up the edges of my front tire. After about 37 miles of open highway with very little traffic and lots to look at we approached the turn off for Meadows ski resort and at about this point the curves appeared. The first couple were wide sweepers that we took at high speed swooping into them.

Motorcycles on Mount Hood

White River Canyon Parking Area

We stopped for a photo opportunity at the White River Canyon turn out, which gave us an awesome view of the mountain. From here we planned our escape from this volcano and into the woods of the National Forest.

We had ridden on the west side of the forest and knew that the roads are narrow, often have blind corners, and are not well marked. We also knew there were sections that turn from asphalt to dirt and wanted to avoid those. From previous Google Satellite searches, I knew that there was a paved road from Timothy Lake to High Rocks, the latter being our favorite ride-to spot for a couple hour jaunt. We successfully found a route that didn’t require us to go quite as far south as Timothy Lake.

Not much more than this screen shot to guide us.

Not much more than a few  screen shots to guide us.

After an initial wrong turn off of Highway 26, we found Oregon Skyline Road and followed it until we reached the first intersection and turned right. This short section doesn’t appear to have a name or label on Google Maps. This road ended in a “T” at Forest Road 2660, where we turned left. Shortly after this turn we reached an intersection with Abbott Road, or NF-58, which is the road that connects to High Rocks and our more familiar turf. Keeping our speeds low on these bumpy, windy roads,the sun began its decent toward the horizon, casting long tree shadows across the road.

After several miles of densely tree lined, narrow, bumpy, crater stricken roads, we reached the tell tale intersection of four roads that we always pass through on our way to High Rocks.

Being this close to High Rocks we had to stop by to view Mt. Hood and finish out ride with one last photo opportunity. Our day had started with the idea of a quick trip to Multnomah Falls and then other errands, and ended up taking us on a long journey expending several more hours than planned. Of course the best part of our trip had yet to come, they stretch between Ripple Brook Ranger station and Estacada.

Pulled off into the dirt turn out

Pulled off into the dirt turn out

This day evolved into a much needed and well deserved tour for us around the mountain that we look at everyday. While the roads weren’t the most challenging, the vistas did inspire. I still need to get back out there to scuff up the furthest edges of my front tire. For our next day trip I hope to loop Mt. Saint Helens.