3 Day Bikepacking Trip Near White Salmon Washington: The Klickitat Dirt-Kicker

With a maelstrom of living history happening in real time, a few friends and I decided to escape the chaos of social media, news updates, and general political/viral/racial malaise for a weekend on two wheels.

With a vanful of bikes, gear, food, and beverages, we set out on a Thursday evening (My Fridays were furloughed the rest of the year and the other two’s schedules are flexible) to start our ride mid-morning Friday.

Before I begin, a quick shout-out: any photos that actually look artistic or professional were taken by our de facto camera man, Seth Dubois (Insta: @sethcjd, @experiencebybike). The rest were Abdul and me.

The ride was a mashup of The Swale Canyon 80 created by the renowned route-builders at OMTM, a few random routes found on Ride with GPS and a mixture of google-earth and luck to connect it all together.

What resulted was a beautiful three days of rugged dirt, double-track, singletrack, and gravel that is one of the most enjoyable routes I’ve tampered with in some time.

I’ll keep things brief with a visual narrative of the trip and a few one-liners Ad-Libbed for the simple purpose of variety.

The Route

The Ride

After crossing The Dalles Bridge into the somewhat nebulous territory of Washington called Dallesport, we cruised with the wind along the Lewis and Clark Trail Highway for about 9 miles before exiting the highway and immediately climbing up and out of the Gorge along pristine prairie land trails.

The trail eventually turned back into gravel as we quickly ascended to stunning views of The Dalles and meadows that make up both the Washington and Oregon side of The Dalles.

The route then took us on a journey of gravel, then dirt, then forgotten forest road in the middle of the woods, then repeat.

Eventually we arrived at our first campsite for the night, a primitive and free campground just outside of smalltown Glenwood called Blue Jay Campground.

We were the only inhabitants of the campground, minus the innumerable ants that waged war on the two tarptenters all night.

Day 2

Our next day brought us along quiet doubletrack dirt, also known as bovine thoroughfares, until we hopped on a very quiet highway towards Trout Lake. Trout Lake held a pleasant surprise: an amazing little coffeeshop right at the intersection of our loop for the day. We couldn’t help but make it a pit-stop both on our voyage out and return back.

The loop up and into Gifford Pinchot National Forest follows some popular roadie forest roads for a while before jumping onto some of the lesser traveled gravel. On a clear day this loop provides sweeping views of Mount Adams, but we were instead gifted a consistent dose of rain for most of this loop section.

Round 2 at the Trout Lake coffeeshop was a much-needed respite to dethaw the extremities with the proven antidote of coffee then beer then coffee. Works every time.

The day ended with a small climb and eventual primitive campsite just off the highway around mile 150.

Day 3

Our final day was an easy one, as we only had a few more climbs and then an almost 2,000 foot drop down to Lyle, followed by a few more highway miles before crossing the train tracks and rolling along an old and very rough gravel road for the last 10 miles of the trip.

We arrived back at The Dalles Marina in the early afternoon, popped a few beers, and slowly disassembled our homes-on-wheels to make the treks back to our homes on ground. It was a great three day trip, and a great escape from the stressors whirling around us, even if brief.

Categories: Oregon Bikepacking, Pedals and Packs

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14 replies »

  1. Hey Ben! This route looks great, and a friend & I are looking to ride it in a little over a week. We’re coming from the Bend area where everything is still pretty wet or snowy above 4,500 ft., do you think this route is a good choice this early in the season? Seems a good alternative to the Silver Siouxon route, which was our original plan. If so, do you think it’s a better route for a drop bar bike w/42 mm tires, or a MTB w/2” +? Appreciate any info you’re able to provide, and thanks for posting the route!

    • Hey Jordan! I think this route should be alright right now, although there may be a bit of mud to contend with. As for tire size, boy… You could go either way. There’s a bit of singletrack at the beginning, but then most of the route is pretty nice gravel. The times I’ve ridden this route I’ve always done it with one or two folks on a gravel bike and one or two folks on a MTB. So it’s kind of your call!

  2. Thanks for the prompt reply Ben! We’ll be giving ourselves 4 days of riding to deal with any mud or re-routes that may be needed, and that’s helpful info on bike choice. We’ll probably stick with the drop bar bikes if it’s mostly gravel. Really appreciate the route & intel!

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