A revisit to a regular stomping grounds, this is the 2021 version of Circumnavigate mt.Hood via Vista Ridge.
Basic stats: 86miles and a gain of 9000ft
South Side Climb
Starting off riding up 26, I choose to ride up the road, the views are terrific, the road is not bad and shoulder is wide for most parts. An alternative route is to ride up Still Creek rd (gravel), around trillium and connect back to US26 / 35N. A good tip is to take the Pioneer Womans Grave road, as there is a natural fresh water spring mid way and a great look at the mountain from Buzzard point.
East Side Descent
After the large but steady climb, this route descends down 35N toward Hood River for quite a while, enough to make your legs forget about climbing. It then has a short snappy climb up too Cooper Spur. To get up to Cooper Spur theres a small climb after a long descent. At Cooper spur theres a little lodge, you can get water if needed.
Fruit Farm Section
Dropping a short section you are in Parkdale, surrounded by orchards and lots of places to eat, should you wish. Plus a grocery store stop on the edge of town, but my fav thing to do here is use the faucet on the back of the Fire Station. I mean whats a fire station without water right?
North Side Connector
Red Hill / NF16 connects the North side of Hood back around (the alternative is to route through Dee and Lost Lake Rd, which is nice also). The start of Red Hill is mellow but soon turns into a long climb, so settle in. After gaining 2000ft in 6 miles you settle at some amazing views of the north side.
After a welcomed short sharp descent of NF16 / Vista Ridge you are greeted with a casual climb up to Lolo Pass, technically there is NF18, you can ride that way, its pretty burly, if you are on a gravel bike no problem. Most of the time I follow NF1810, its gravel for 7 miles near the top but not bad and meanders through shaded pine tree groves, crossing a few rivers as it goes.
The PCT crosses at the top of Lolo Pass and theres normally cars parked up there as there are a lot of hikes. Now you are in for a treat, descending back to where you started with a wide open 11 mile downhill on lightly twisting roads, and valley view.