New bike path traces Historic Columbia River Highway

Oregon

Eventually it'll be car free for 22 miles from Troutdale to the Dalles

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. (KOIN) — A new 3-mile section of bike path tracing the route of the Historic Columbia River Highway opens this weekend.

The new path between Cascade Locks and Hood River attempts to follow the exact outline of the highway with some of the greatest views of the Columbia River Gorge.

If you scrape away a little dirt at the edge of the new bike path, you can still see the original asphalt laid down more than 103 years ago as part of the drivable surface of the Historic Columbia River Highway.

A new bike trail traces the path of the Historic Columbia River Highway in the Gorge. (KOIN)

It was an exacting process to replicate the aesthetic qualities that went into the construction of the original highway build in 1916.

“We needed to preserve as much of the historic resources as we could so the solution way to overlay — the original pavement is under your feet as you walk but it’s now smooth,” Terra Lingley with ODOT said. “But to know that the original surface is under your foot is really cool.”

The old highway was also built with an eye toward the beauty of the Gorge. The road wandered through lush forests of the time — then sprung out of the hillside for million-dollar views of land that had been largely untouched. That’s the same ethic that has gone into planning the path.

In spots where the old road has been destroyed — they blasted out a shelf on a rock face to build the brand new bike path. There are road markers embedded to show where the original highway starts and where it ends.

And then there are the views.

“Gets you out — gets you into the trees and away from the interstate but also brings you into vistas such as this where you get to look up and down the Gorge,” Lingley said. “And previously people haven’t been able to see this view.”

There is an ongoing initiative to put more bike paths down on the old highway alignment. Eventually, it’ll be car-free for 22 miles on the route from Troutdale to The Dalles.

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