A big, north facing view of Mt Hood is the whole reason to head up to Laurance Lake … that’s if the mountain is cooperating for the day. This route is a whole lot of pavement, mixed in with a smidge of gravel making it a perfect course for gravel newbies. Make that “newbies plus” because the last little bit up to the super scenic ridge with eye-popping views of Mt Hood will get you thinking about how to comfortably ride a gravel climb.
We love a ride that starts at a cool coffee shop (the Blue Canoe) and ends at a great brewery (Solera) or barbecue place (Apple Valley BBQ). That’s the cool town of Parkdale, which is centered on local orchards but clearly taking advantage of the lost tourist who are there to snap pictures of apple trees with Mt Hood in the background. Looming is the only correct word for how that mountain hangs over this town. **Read More
Once you have sucked down your coffee and polished off a fresh baked muffin, you head straight up the hill toward the mountain … through lovely orchards with constant views of Mt Hood. It’s a consistent hill climb on a wide, paved, farm road with plenty of orchard activity. (Be nice to the farm trucks, We didn’t have many, but they are busy folks.)
At mile 2.7, you reach the turn off for Laurence Lake. Get your phone out because there is one seriously beautiful view of Mt Hood with an open field as the foreground.
You continue up as the climb continues to get steeper, winding through the forest. There’s a ¼ mile of gravel where the stream washed out the road and provides a lovely open shot of Mt Hood.
When you reach Laurance Lake, at the end of the campground you will find a small gravel road to your left that is your turn. It varies between 4% and 8%. There’s one turn off, part way up, that is just a dead end to the start of a hiking trail. You continue up until you reach the true destination: the REALLY AWESOME view of Mt. Hood. (In case you didn’t have enough pictures of Mt Hood.)
The return is one fun downhill that whizzes you all the way back to Parkdale … now for the beer or barbecue that we already talked about! If you didn’t get enough of the views of Mt Hood, the Solera Brewery offers up outdoor seating that again produces those LOOMING views of Mt Hood.
This ride can be made much, much longer by starting in Hood River and riding the back country roads out to Parkdale. However, it would be a lot of road riding on a gravel bike.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Easier+. Not for the pure beginner, as the route out is a continuous climb at 3.5% average grade over 10 miles with several short pitches of 8%.
When we like to ride this …
During the summer, we like to do this ride early or late in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky and the colors really “pop”. We tend to avoid summer weekends. We also like this route with fresh snow on the mountain and the change of colors in the fall.
Food / Water
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road