Rather than driving 65mph through the Columbia Gorge, travel on 2 wheels and get up close and personal with the natural scenic area.
Take a cruise along the newest section the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail to enjoy views of the majestic *Nch’i-Wána (Columbia River-The Big River) and 3 waterfalls that flow beside the paved path. Including a glimpse of the bottom of a 4th waterfall. Admire the Washington side of the Gorge – including Wind Mountain and cars driving east on I-84 – then end up at a small beach in an Oregon state park situated along the river’s edge.
On warm days this route provides a nice relief from the sun underneath the trees. If it’s hot enough, pack extra clothes and take a dip in the river at Viento S.P. Do not dip in too far from the shore as currents are strong in this river.
Little treat: Keep an eye out for small, side gravel trails that lead to wide open views of the Columbia Gorge!
*Nch’i-Wána translates to The Big River. This word comes from the Umatilla Tribe and is what they call the Columbia River.
- Keep an eye out for hikers, walkers, and doggos (on leash)!
- There are a few hills, but if you go from Wyeth to Viento S.P. the hills are not as long (in my opinion). However, this is not considered a flat trail.
- You can start at Viento S.P. but there is nothing to look at during the turnaround at Wyeth Trailhead.
- Permanent bike holder with tools at the Wyeth Trailhead.
- A potable water spigot is located a little bit pass the Wyeth Campground. Water fountains are at Starvation Creek.
- This is a non-motorized state trail section.
- Don’t go too fast down the hills for the safety of others.
- Let people know when you’re passing them from behind.
- It can get windy out here. This is the Gorge after all!
- The route takes you over the new 500’ long Summit Creek Viaduct – completed in 2019.
- Pack snacks to eat at the picnic table located on the river’s beach in Viento State Park.
- 3 miles of this route is a brand-new non-motorized section along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail that provides access from Wyeth and Trailhead and Lindsey Creek.
- 68 out of 73 miles of the historic highway between Troutdale and The Dalles are accessible by foot and car. There are plans to complete the remaining 5 miles.
- The Historic Columbia River Highway is America’s first Scenic Highway. Dedicated: June 7, 1916. Nickname: “King of Roads.”
Waterfalls On Route
- Lancaster Falls
- Hole In The Wall Falls – 93′ tall
- Cabin Creek Falls
- Starvation Creek Falls – 220′ tall
Origin of Starvation Creek’s Name
“It is said that a party of overland pioneers nearly starved here for lack of provisions. The place also was called Starveout after two Union Pacific Railroad trains were stalled in the area by heavy snows in the winter of 1884-1885. For some days, the passengers were kept from starvation by men who packed supplies from Hood River on skis.” – Oregon State Parks
Viento State Park Facts
- Viento = Spanish word for wind.
- Named after a railroad station down the road.
- 270 acres total.
- Bought between 1925 – 1967 and construction stared in the 1930s. Built to provide a place to rest for travelers along the old Columbia River Highway. In the 1950s overnight accommodations were added.
Bike Path Details
- Mileage: 12 miles round trip – 6 miles one way. My watched tracked 12.61 miles.
- Elevation gain: 907’ tracked by my watch.
- Trail condition: wide paved entire way, some small potholes/dips, shaded + exposed.
- Restrooms at: Wyeth Trailhead, Starvation Creek State Park, Viento State Park.
- Views of: 4 waterfalls – 3 along the route, Wind Mountain, Nch’i-Wána (Columbia River-The Big River) + beach access, cars driving along I-84 E., decorative railing, concrete bridges, Shellrock Mountain, burn zone, Summit Creek Viaduct.
- Fees: No fee at Wyeth Trailhead, Oregon State Park Pass at Viento State Park.
Take a look at the trailhead sign before heading out to get a good idea of the elevation level that you’ll be at out on the trail.
Turn right and follow the paved path over a footbridge and a crosswalk. The entrance to Wyeth Campground will be on your right. As well as a potable water spigot decorated in old stone.
Bike about 1 mile through the forest and you’ll cross a talus slope (Shellrock Mountain) lined with rock-fall fences. You’ll soon see a burn zone behind a fence on your right with the Nch’i-Wána and highway in front of you. Climb the new 500-foot Summit Creek Viaduct with I-84 underneath you at the 1.5-mile mark. There are a couple of viewpoints you can pull off at on the viaduct to take a break and soak in the scenery.
*Remember to keep an eye out for the small gravel trail on the left side of the path. It leads to an awesome viewpoint!
After Summit Creek Viaduct you’ll even out and be on the Mossy Road section. This is a thick wooded section with rock walls covered in lush moss and ferns. At one point in time this part of the highway was abandoned and covered in moss – hence the name for the section today!
The trail emerges from the forest for views of the Gorge before going back under the tree canopy. A circular stone viewpoint will pop up on the right – giving you a glimpse of the lower section of Lancaster Falls. Bike over Warren Creek Bridge before coming up on a small green sign that says “Hole In The Wall Falls” with an arrow pointing right. Turn right and gain a few feet of elevation before reaching another circular stone sitting area. Hop of your bike and walk down to get a view of the fall. Return back to the bike path and continue on.
Not even half a mile down from the first waterfall is the second waterfall (on the right), Cabin Creek Falls. Depending on the season, there may not be much to look at. Pedal through a short section of trees before the I-84 is exposed completely on your left. It can get loud here. Starvation Creek is straight ahead – where you can find water, restrooms and another map. Continue past the restrooms and Starvation Creek Falls standing at 220’ tall on the right. There are a couple picnic tables if you want to take a break and admire the waterfall.
Continue east for a little over 1 mile – with some ascends and descends – before reaching the Viento State Park parking lot. Keep your eye out for the stone(?) Mile Marker 58 in the trees along this section. It’s the only mile marker left from the original Historic Highway – so cool! The trail will lead you underneath the overpass (look for cars!) and into the day use section of Viento State Park. Bike straight into the campground and follow the sign that says “river access” to the left. Go over the railroad tracks before reaching the small beach. The ground is gravel here. Relax a bit before heading back to Wyeth Trailhead!
Drive east on I-84 to exit 51. Take a right at the end of the ramp and another right at the fork onto Wyeth Road. 0.3 miles down the road the Wyeth Trailhead entrance is on the left side. Total miles from pdx: 50.2 miles.
Drive west on I-84 to exit 51. Same directions as above.
- In nearby Cascade Locks, grab a bite to eat and an ice cream cone from East Wind Drive-In. Or snag some fresh fish from a Native owned business, Brigham Fish Market. Underneath the Bridge of Gods you can buy candied salmon and other salmon goodies from local Natives. More recommendations: Cascade Locks Ale House, Thirsty Coffee Bar, Thunder Island Brewing, Gorge Beer Co. (Cascade Locks Flagship).
- Drive to Hood River and eat one of the many food establishments located in town. Recommendations: Full Sail Brewing, Mt. Hood Café (?), Evoke Winery, pFriem Family Brewers.
- Take the Historic Highway to Troutdale to see more waterfalls on the way home.
- Got a lot of extra time? Visit the Bonneville Dam… for free!
Looking for another bike path in the Gorge? Check out my Mosier Tunnels Bike Path description (Hood River to Mosier).