The Dalles mountain 60 route is a staple in cyclists books. Amazing views and a mixture of road and gravel. This year we decided to ride it the day after the March 11th organised / unorganised ride due to conflicts and the chance of a lot better weather the next day.
Mileage: 58 Miles
Elevation Gain 4,000ft
Elevation profile – Loop with first long continued climb, flat mid section and second climbt, the rest rollers and flats.
Terrain: 20miles of gravel, 40miles of normal road
Ride Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19514082
Bicycle: Summer this is doable on a road bike with 28c tyres. Winter / rainy season it’s best on a fatter tyre bike like a cyclocross bike 35c+ or hardtail mtb
Gear: Moots Routt 34c Specialized Trigger tyres, Lara Bars, Pro Bars, Scratch Labs drink mix.
Meeting at Holsteins coffee in The Dalles (yeah this place is the only city where “The” is a formality in its name) After crossing the bridge to the Washington side, the route kicks in with a brisk climb up Dalles Mountain Road. This road is actually the entrance to a state park – Dalles Mountain Ranch is part of Columbia Hills State Park, there are quite a few hikes in there but that’s for someone else to blog about. The climb is all gravel and rocky in points, goes on for about 9 miles and up 2000ft. At points the grade is steep, but the outlook across the water to the Oregon side is beautiful with some wicked views of Mt.Hood on a clear day.
The start of Dalles Mountain Rd (above), bit of a grey day to start, but no rain!
Great views of mount hood can be had from up here.
After taking in the scenery, the wiry Washington pastures, killer views of mt hood and resting, of course. You are treated to a rapid and flowing descent down the back of Dalles Mountain sort of toward Goldendale. This is all gravel also so watch your corners. At about mile 18 your vision is filled with towering electricity windmills, these wind farms are common place in The Dalles. It gets bloody windy out here so it makes sense.
When we rode this there was a little snow left at the sides, but otherwise clear.
The route takes you on highway 97 for less than 1/2 mile then drops into what is known as the Maryhill Loops, this is a strip of road (closed to cars) that back in 1911 was built under Sam Hill to test the turn and grade capabilities of road making equipment. It makes for a really fun windy descent of about a mile long. (Interesting fact: this design enabled the twisty descent down from Crowne Point on the Oregon side) Word of warning here, to access the top of the Loops you actually have to trespass an abandoned driveway for about 100ft, if you are not into this there is a simple route around down the nearby highway but you will miss the Loops.
Headed toward Maryhill, twisty roads, fruit and vineyards are the call of the day via the unmistakable sight of Washington’s own Stonehenge (The Maryhill Stonehenge is a replica of England’s Stonehenge. It was commissioned in the early twentieth century by businessman Samuel Hill and dedicated on July 4, 1918, as a memorial to those who had died in World War I. Maryhill is a small fruit farming community just before the xxxx bridge that crosses back to the Oregon side at the bottom of 97.
Back on the Oregon side now after crossing the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge (careful not much shoulder, the dude believed in roads not cyclists!), Biggs is the first town, this is a good point to stop and with a few petrol stations to get water and food if needed. From here there is a short (4.5miles) yet often windy stretch of road to the next gravel section – Old Moody.
On the left is theDeschutess State Park, if you have time, this is a great place to take a break, ride in to get some water and view the beautiful river from the banks of the day use area. Continuing on the road, crossing the Deschutes river just past the Deschutes State Park entrance you make a sharp left hand 270degree turn onto Moody road, the terrain quickly becomes steep and gravelly, don’t let the first section dishearten you, the first bit is the steepest, and it’s bloody steep but rideable. The benefit is some amazing views from the top of the climb. the next few miles traverse the Oregon ridge weaving in and out of beautiful hills, rugged windswept landscape with stout grasses and eroded rock forms on firm pack, light gravel road.
Yesterday was a downpour, normally the surface is a little more rock scattered but the surface was tacky.
Moody Rd ends with a spritely descent to 15mile road, from here it’s all smooth top back to The Dalles. You have about 11miles to go that weaves in and out of farming land and rural houses, throw in a couple of mellow rollers and soon you are popping out onto the side road, State St that heads into the centre of The Dalles where you started.
Above: You know you are a mile or two from the end when you see the grain stacks of Sunshine Mill.
Below: This is the view from Moody Road looking East over the Columbia river, taken in the summer, you can see the difference in colours and earthtones compared with an early season ride.