Are there any campsites I can safely bike to?

Hi everyone,

I really want to go camping this weekend. I have an electric bike with an 80+ mile range. Are there any campsites I can bike to that don’t involve riding on a busy street? Milo McIver looked promising, but it turns out there’s a bunch of streets I don’t want to mess with after getting off the Springwater Trail (for instance, Richey Road looks terrifying—I only feel comfortable biking on trails and neighborhood streets).

Any ideas? Or do I need to rent a car? :confused:

Thanks!

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Jonathan has done some stories on his local bike camping excursions: https://bikeportland.org/?s=camping

Hi Zach! Once upon a time there was a really wonderful group called CycleWild. Don’t bother to look it up; the domain is now owned by a domainer, and even its subsequent Facebook group is growing moss. A little taste of it remains in a few BikePortland articles like this, and this Google map with over 150 camping destinations within a day’s ride of Portland.

Stub Stewart State Park route comes close to your preferences if you take the MAX option to Hillsboro (end of the Blue line). From there to the hiker/biker campsites is about 20 miles, about half on very quiet back farm roads and the other half on the Banks/Vernonia trail, a paved rails-to-trails route. I don’t have a route sheet, and I don’t know where all the Cycle Wild routes are archived, but you can probably figure it out. From the Mark O. Hatfield MAX station, head north about 4 blocks on city streets in Hillsboro (pretty tame). Turn west (Garibaldi St?) into some older suburbs, then bear north again onto farm roads (NW 10th Ave?). Traffic is very light on those roads. Pick your way up to Banks. You’ll have to go on busy Hwy 47 but it has wide paved shoulders, and if you can get onto NW Wilkesboro, then you’ll only be on the highway for a couple hundred yards. Grab food at the grocery store on the south end of town, ride to the north end (half mile; easy city streets) and hop on the trail for a car-free second half to the park.

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Hi zach,

I wish I had much better answers for you. Unfortunately my #1 recommendation, Dodge Park (35 miles total w 20+ being on the Springwater and the rest on pretty chill rural roads), was recently closed to overnight camping because of a bad budgeting decision by Portland City Council. (We should do some advocacy to get camping restore here because it’s awesome and perfect for bike camping!)

Also keep in mind that EVERYONE is heading out for camping right now so parks will be packed and sites will all be reserved (I’m unclear whether hike/bike sites are first-come or reservable and hope to find out for sure today.)

And

That being said, here are the places worth checking out IMO:

  • Columbia County: Park in Scappoose or at a Crown Zellerbach (CZ) Trailhead. Options out there are: Scaponia Park, Big Eddy Park (a few miles north on Nehalem Highway, which isn’t awesome, but isn’t terrible and it’s only a few miles). And of course you can continue to Anderson Park (a fave of mine!) which is nestled on the Nehalem River in Vernonia. For Anderson Park, you could also park at Banks-Vernonia Trailhead in Banks and ride the 11 miles on the B-V!

  • Unfortunately Stub Stewart Hike/Bike sites are closed at the moment! For future reference, if you park at trailhead in Banks, this is AFAIK the only place to bike-camp with a route that is 100% on a paved path.

  • Ainsworth State Park: Located about 10 miles west of Cascade Locks along I-84 right on the Columbia River. Has hike/bike sites but check availability. Rumor has it these are first-come, first-served, but the website shows reservations. I’m actually trying to get official clarification on this at the moment.

  • Champoeg State Park: This is a great option and I’ve done it several times with small kids and families. Route is not bad either. YMMV.

  • If you don’t mind riding off-road lots of folks love the Deschutes River Rec Area option. Park at the trailhead east of Hood River off I-84 and ride up the river to the end of the trail where there are tent sites.

Wish we had even more and safer options but these are the top ones in my mind at the moment.

Have fun and report back what you end up doing!

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Alan - thanks for all this info! Sounds like Stub Stewart is closed for camping at the moment, but otherwise sounds nice. Not too thrilled about riding on Hwy 47 though.

Jonathan - also thanks, these look like some great options! What a bummer about Dodge Park; hopefully they reverse the decision soon.

Sounds like the easiest option for now is probably just to rent a car. When in Rome…

Aside from all the spots being reserved, it can be so crowded and noisy that it takes away a lot of the point of camping in first place.

I do almost only dispersed nowadays. There are some disadvantages, but you can be as isolated as you want to be – often in absolutely epic places.

I loved the Nestucca River Road and the camp sites right on the Nestucca River last year. Construction is almost done, the road is closed to people, but I didn’t leave a mess when I walked around the construction last year. It is an amazing road, but I think the paved-over-gravel section might lead to more RVs and SUVs.

https://www.blm.gov/visit/nestucca-river-recreation-area

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Is this the preferred route to Champoeg? How’s traffic between Oregon City and Canby? Doesn’t seem like there’s much shoulder after Leland leaves OC.

Yes that’s a good basic Champoeg Route. Leland doesn’t have a great shoulder but it’s a well-known route and it’s windy enough that it’s OK in my book. Once you get past that big climb there is very chill traffic until Canby.