5 Star Route / Ridden and Reviewed by Gravel Girl
Lost: it’s the name of the lake you are headed to … with one of the most iconic photo opportunities in Oregon. And while Lost Lake has surely been found, very few people (cars or cyclists) are on the route.
The route is a derivative of the classic Vista Ridge road ride that is well known in the area. Over time, the paved forest service roads (most of the route) have deteriorated so that there are dips / depressions, broken pavement, and some short sections of gravel. The course as mapped, includes Jones Creek road, which has a significant gravel component. Overall, we find this route much more enjoyable on a gravel bike with ~ 35 mm wide tire versus a road bike with a 25 mm tire. This is a must do ride if you are in the area. The views of Mt. Hood on a clear day are “out of this world”. // Read More
The route starts in the agricultural town of Parkdale, which has a gas station, supermarket, pub, barbecue spot, and a super awesome coffee shop. There’s also a museum and a historic hotel.
After your morning coffee at the Blue Canoe, the ride begins by an easy winding downhill paralleling Trout Creek (850 feet lost in 5.5. miles). At Dee you make a hard left turn and begin climbing through orchards with Mt Hood looming in the background. At mile 10.5 your turn left onto the first of many forest service roads for the day. As you go, the roads just keep getting smaller and smaller.
At mile 15 your veer left onto Lake Branch road, which is a single lane road with turnouts that cuts deep into the forest. In 8 miles you reach the famous Lost Lake. Fingers crossed you can see the mountain which doesn’t appear until you bike past the general store and to the end of the parking area. Do not skip this; your Facebook fans need another picture of you with a bike helmet and an amazing backdrop.
Turn around, fuel up at the general store because you have some big climbing coming up. But first …
… the little road! Continue through camping area, keep going until you hit a huge log and boulders blocking the road. Crawl over the log and boulders (ok you can sneak around them) and continue on this narrow path / road. Eventually you end up on a gravel / paved logging road with “sweet” views of Mt Hood.
After several miles and a drop in elevation, you intersect Lost Lake Road. Get into the drops and ride the 1 mile descent to the next Forest Service road, NF-18, a sharp right. Drop a bit more until you cross the West Fork of the Hood River. Now, begin the 2000 ft climb to Vista Ridge. The climb is of stair-stepped fashion giving you short flat areas of recovery, but as you climb each of these flat is shorter and shorter in distance.
At ~ mile 41 the ridge is gained and the road undulates up and down for the next 8 miles with mile 41 and mile 49 being at nearly the same elevation of 3600 feet. The ridge offers up distant views of Mt. Adams and final “in your face” view of Mt. Hood. Now, test your brakes and get ready for the Red Hill descent (a drop of 1700 feet in just under 5 miles for an average gradient of 6.4%).
It’s a bombing downhill that twists and turns with distant views of Parkdale Lava flow. You will twist one way to see Mt Adams, the opposite way to Mt Hood. Eventually you end up back in the orchards … and back to Parkdale.
Now the decision is, do you hit the barbecue place or the brewery! Or back for more food at the Blue Canoe. (The brewery has tremendous outdoor seating in the back, in case you didn’t get enough big views of Mt Hood.)
This route route has very little, true gravel road. Maybe 5 miles or so. But there are ~ 20 miles of paved forest service roads that have areas of broken pavement, dips / depressions, and washouts. Thus, we recommend a gravel bike, with at least a 32 mm tire up to a 40 mm tire.
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 57 miles / 5800 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 14% gravel, 36% Roubaix, 50% paved
– eBike Approved: Yes
– Location: ~ 25 min south of Hood River, Oregon
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Published: September 2019
Moderate+. Due to a distance and elevation gain.
When we like to ride this …
This is a ride we really like to do when the skies are clear and the views are big. The route tops out at 3700 feet, thus there may be that exceptional day in the winter when the route would go. But … for sure, there are spring and fall days that would be splendid along with many summer days.
Food / Water
Lost Lake General store, ~ mile 23.
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Purple = Roubaix