Being from England but now living in the US, I’m often asked by British friends where they should ride in the summer in the US. Typically, they are looking for warm, dry conditions with reasonable distances between towns.
One of my favorite areas to recommend for a summer bike tour is Oregon – especially the area around Portland. This part of Oregon is great for a summer cycling vacation for several reasons:
- It is reliably warm, but not too warm.
- In summer, it is reliably dry but still very green.
- The area has great diversity of terrain all with easy reach of Portland.
- The people of this area have a passion for cycling unmatched anywhere else in the US.
- [They also have a passion for food & beer – but that’s another story.]
Where you choose to ride will depend on the style of summer cycling vacation you enjoy.
Willamette Valley Bike Tours
Wine lovers looking for some gentle riding will love the Willamette Valley. It has truly world-class pinot noirs as well as mile after mile of quiet roads winding between rolling, vine-carpeted hills.
The 20-mile Banks-Vernonia trail is a great introduction to the area. The converted rails-to-trail bike path is car free and snakes through state parks and over old railway trestles. Further south, the Dundee Hills have expansive views and a dense network of beautiful wineries.
- Our favorite places to stay are A’Tuscan Inn in McMinnville and the Allison Inn in Newberg.
- For one of the best meals in Oregon, head to the Painted Lady in Newberg.
- For a quirky things to do, check out the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum – complete with the Spruce Goose (a massive WWII all-wood cargo plane) and water slides topped with a 747.
Mount Hood and the Columbia River Bike Tours
More energetic riders will head to Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. In just a few days you can ride from the dense conifer forests on the slopes of Mount Hood down to the Columbia River and out to high desert. The terrain is hilly but the roads are generally quiet with open views to three (five if you strain) snow-capped volcanoes.
The Historic Columbia River Highway takes you along the Gorge past 600 foot waterfalls, past bucolic cherry orchards and pear farms, and up to the high-desert region east of Mount Hood. All the trail is quiet and some is completely car-free.
- Our favorite place to stay is the Villa Columbia in Hood River. For something more rustic and remote, check out Cooper Spur Resort on the eastern slopes of Mt Hood.
- For food, we think Celilo is the best in the area but we also love eating at Nora’s table – both restaurants are in Hood River.
- There are also many places to taste locally brewed beer – including the large Full Sail Brewery in Hood River.
- For something different to do, try a sailboarding lesson with Big Winds in Hood River.
- For a sense of the history of the area, head to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center just west of The Dalles.