A new treat for cyclists in Columbia River Gorge

Missing link in Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail will be dedicated today, opens for public use in November

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To reach dedication ceremony

Driving: Parking will be available at I-84 exit 35, the Ainsworth exit, with shuttle buses to the site. The ceremony will be at the McCord Creek Bridge, a walk of a quarter mile from the shuttle drop-off.

Bicycling: Parking will be available in downtown Cascade Locks, I-84 exit 44, which is a six-mile bicycle ride to the McCord Creek Bridge, or park at Toothrock Trailhead at exit 40, a three-mile bike ride to the McCord Creek Bridge.

Look for a full schedule of weekend activities (Sept. 13-15) in and around Cascade Locks, go to highwayrevived.com.

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. — Cyclists will soon have a new recreation option after a missing link in the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail opens west of Cascade Locks. The section will be fully useable after Oct. 31.

Scot Sullenger, who owns the Cascade Motel in Cascade Locks, thinks it could be a perfect weekend outing for Portlanders. In fact, he plans to do it in reverse himself.

This is how it will work. For the first time since the construction of Interstate 84 in the 1960s, there will be an alternate route between Troutdale and Cascade Locks without the need for using any part of the freeway.

The old scenic Columbia River Highway, which was fully open by 1922, was partially destroyed or abandoned as I-84 was built. Today's dedication of the new 1.6-mile McCord Creek replaces one of the lost sections.

The $8.1 million project has brought a bicycle/pedestrian path to the previously missing section: between John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor on the west and the Bonneville Dam exit to the east.

Sullenger plans to ride his bike with his wife from Cascade Locks to Troutdale, spend one night at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, then ride back to Cascade Locks the next day. He invites Portlanders to do the same, riding from Troutdale to an overnight in Cascade Locks, then return the next day.

The distance is 34 miles, with a climb over 733-foot high Crown Point. Cyclists will need to share part of the old highway with vehicles (an average for 2,200 per day), but won't need to ride on I-84 where 21,000 are counted daily.

In addition to the Cascade Motel, other lodging opportunities in Cascade Locks include the Best Western Columbia River Inn, Bridge of the Gods Motel and Columbia Gorge Inn.

Three days of festivities are planned to celebrate the opening of the new trail section, which will be dedicated at 11 a.m. today.

The trail dedication ceremony at the McCord Creek Bridge will be the centerpiece in a celebration marking completion of the segment of the trail between John B. Yeon State Park and Moffett Creek.

The event will include unveiling of a commemorative plaque and remarks by state and local officials involved in the project.

The trail will be open to the public all day today for the dedication ceremonies and will be open Sunday for a biking event, but will remain closed for general use until Oct. 31. Through September and October, workers will be paving, finishing walls, landscaping and installing the safety railing along I-84.

The project will open the final link in a scenic bike ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks on 26 miles of the Columbia River Historic Highway and 6.5 miles of shared use path on the State Trail. Ultimately, the trail will extend to Hood River, although the design and funding sources are still under study for construction of the trail in the Mitchell Point area.

The new 1.6-mile trail segment includes:

• A new 12-foot wide paved path accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, walkers, hikers and wheelchairs.

• A distinctive new 76-foot long pedestrian bridge over McCord Creek designed to reflect the artistry and craftsmanship of the original highway design.

• A new picnic and rest area with restored views of Beacon Rock.

• A link with U.S. Forest Service Trail 400 connecting to Elowah Falls.

• Another ADA accessible section of the trail.

In 1987, the Legislature set in motion the restoration of the Historic Columbia River Highway, which was completed in 1922 as America's first scenic highway.

By the 1950s, many sections of the road had been abandoned or demolished for what eventually became Interstate 84.

With the new segment, 62 of the original 73 miles of Historic Highway linking Troutdale with The Dalles are open to motor vehicles or to bikes and pedestrians.