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Syncline Trail

  • Length:
    11 miles
  • Difficulty:
    Challenging
  • Nearby Cities:
    Hood River, Odell, Mosier
  • Region:
    Mt. Hood / The Gorge
  • Attributes:
    River Views, Single-Track, Steep

Trailhead Elevation: 98 ft

Directions

Get directions to the trailhead on Google Maps

In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.

The trail starts out on grassy semi-arid plains on steep slopes, with hard-packed dirt but some loose rocky debris topsoil. Also, you can find some volcanic rock cliffs and bluffs to switchback up – for those who are up for more of a technical challenge.

Please stay on the trails – these are very delicate areas that do not recover well in the area off the trail. Locals are very protective of the land here, and you do not want to risk closure or damage while it’s raining a lot.

The climb up is somewhat strenuous; the loop we did had about 5.5 miles of continuous climb. Follow the dirt road up and make it easier – or take the rocky switchbacks up to grind yourself and test your balance.

As you get up on top, you’ll find more old orchard trees and then up higher, basalt bluffs with pine trees. Right before you get to the top, there is a house. Please do not disturb or trespass near the house. Also on top are a couple ranches with gates for bikes and hikers to pass through. Be courteous and close the gate behind you; these folks have been extremely generous to let us through their land. Pretty wildflowers off the side of the trial are fragile as well, and you’ll see some poison oak, so be careful.

If you travel westward (as you are making a loop), up on top the trail follows very steep cliffs where the trail is one foot wide and if you fall the wrong way you could be injured or die. So carry your bike and know your limits. Don’t ride alone.

Coming back down, cruise through open pastures, through tight skinny trees and through challenging rocky fields on narrow single-track. Near the bottom the climate goes back to normal low-land moist hardwood foresty areas and finally ends at the parking lot next to the old cattle chute. We rode the 11-mile loop that traveled up the old paved highway east, then north up the dirt fire road to the old orchards then westward and north up along the basalt cliffs and finally back south to the parking lot. Bring a light jacket even in spring, snacks and plenty of water – it gets cold on top when the wind blows through the gorge.

We rate this ride Intermediate to Advanced because of the immediate (no warm-up) climbing (approx. 2100′) and the technical rocky sections both on the switchbacks up and on the sometimes tight, twisty single-track on the way down – which also has some very rocky, tooth-grinding and derailleur-eating areas.

Directions: From Portland, take I-84 eastbound toward Hood River. At Hood River, cross over the Hood River Toll Bridge into Washington (75 cents) and take a right onto Highway 14 toward White Salmon/Bingen. Follow Highway 14 through downtown Bingen and travel past the end of town along Highway 14 for approx. 2 miles. Keep your eyes peeled for Courtney Road on your left. Turn left on Courtney Road and there is a parking lot immediately on your left.

Where’s the trailhead? Find the rock cliffs just above the little lake along Highway 14 adjacent to the parking – go through the gate onto the old paved highway across from the parking lot and follow it up the hill, around the curve and see the trailhead on your left. You could also go up the trailhead that is just inside the gate on your left – just past the old cattle chute (not as easy a climb, though). There are a lot of trails up there to explore. You should bring a map or a friend who has been there. Have fun!

Comments

  1. […] Ride oregon ride mountain biking – syncline trail […]

  2. […] next level? Cross the Columbia River to the Washington side of the gorge, where you’ll find the Syncline, a hair-raising trail that challenges expert cyclists with 11 miles (17.7 km) of steep, technical […]

  3. Hi there, beginning to see the evolution unfold….eBikes !!! who owns and operates the land for ‘syncline’ open spare trails? are bikes allowed on single track? looking fro information to share within the community. thank you for your time

Submitted by

Michael Whitesel

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