Distance: 72.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 7000′
This crusher of a ride comes to you courtesy of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, which wisely has riders start at Cooper Spur, so they don’t stop in Parkdale 2/3 of the way through the ride.
This ride may be a crusher, but it’s downright awesome. You’ll warm up going downhill on perfect pavement that runs through apple and pear orchards. You’ll climb past more orchards and blueberry farms. Past the farms, the fun begins, with a right onto a narrow forest road signed “Wahtum Lake”. Don’t worry. It’s beautiful pavement. It winds through clearcuts for a couple of miles before entering deep forest. As you wind through the woods on perfect asphalt, you’ll be thinking, “This isn’t so bad…” and then you’ll hit The Wall. You’ll climb up a very steep hill for a mile or two, then cross a bridge, then climb another 1/2 mile or so. If you time it right early in the season, you’ll be riding a single-lane road lined with snowbanks.
At the top of this first hill, you’ll be at Lost Lake. Pull into the campground, and take a right into the RV fill/dump station, where you can get some water. Turn around and head down Lost Lake road. It’s a high-speed descent full of sharp curves. Don’t miss the right turn onto Lolo Pass Road. You’ll drop (hating every second of the downhill), and then you’ll realize that The Wall was nothing, as you shift into granny gear for the grind up Vista Ridge. This is the climb that shatters the peloton in the pro men’s class. It’ll probably shatter you too, but the views of Mt. Hood might balance out your pain.
About ten miles of nearly flat pavement await you at the top, and then there’s the fabulous descent into Parkdale.
This is your chance to bail. If you’re tough, you’ll pass your car and head up to Cooper Spur for the third summit. The climb to Cooper Spur is quite nice. Great pavement. Not too steep. Water at the top. Finish the ride either by heading back the way you came (it’s a sweet descent, and hard to pass up), or head down to highway 35 and back to Parkdale.
Make sure you stop in for some BBQ at Apple Valley or for a brew at Solera in Parkdale. There’s ice cream too.
Directions: Park in downtown Parkdale. Head west on Baseline. Either take a right onto the Dee Highway or follow Baseline to Old Parkdale Road and take a right. Old Parkdale will dead-end into Dee Highway. Follow Dee Highway to Dee, and at 6 miles, take a 180 degree left turn onto Lost Lake Road. Follow Lost Lake Road (you can detour on Imai Road when you see it), and take a right onto FS 13 just past 11 miles. At 15.5 or so, stay left on Lake Branch Road (the right goes to Wahtum Lake). At 22.8, you’ll be at the top, and you can swing into Lost Lake Campground for water and ice cream.
Head down Lost Lake Road. At 28.5ish, take a sharp right onto Lolo Pass / FS 18. Climb. Stay on this road. You’ll come out under power lines. The right fork is Lolo Pass (FS-18). You go left on Vista Ridge / Red Hill Road (FS 16), up the steeper road. Sorry. Keep climbing. Somewhere way up there you’ll come to an intersection with the road that goes to Vista Ridge trailhead. It goes right. You go straight. Stay on this road. It’s flat for about 10 miles, and then drops you back into Parkdale.
At the T intersection at 51.8ish, take a right. This will take you back to Parkdale in less than a mile. You can go back to your car with your tail between your legs. Or you can take a right on Clear Creek Road and head for the third summit.
Follow Clear Creek. At mile 56, take a right onto Cooper Spur Road. Climb to Cooper Spur Inn, at mile 61. Either turn around and go back down, or follow Cooper Spur Road until it hits Highway 35 at mile 63.5. Take a left on Highway 35. At 69.7, take a left on Baseline Road and follow it all the way back to your car in Parkdale.