Rock Island Grade & Douglas Creek Loop

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Rock Island Grade & Douglas Creek Loop

By Ray Birks

Virtually to the highest of Rock Island Grade Street the place it meets Titchenal Canyon and Indian Camp Roads.

Swimming holes in Douglas Creek on the decrease finish of Slack Canyon.

Searching for a experience with a lot of mileage and gorgeous surroundings? Lengthy, straight nation roads bordered by fields of wheat? Lovely canyons rimmed with basalt full with swimming holes? This loop packs all that and extra together with views of the Columbia River, Waterville Plateau, Douglas Creek and Palisades. To explain this experience it’s finest to interrupt it up into simply digestible chunks. You’ll expertise the Rock Island Grade Street climb, the ascent onto the plateau, Titchenal Canyon descent, random wheatfield roads, Douglas Creek which runs down Slack Canyon, Palisades Street and the inglorious Freeway 28.

We rode this on mountain bikes however it might simply be ridden on a cyclocross bike because the roads are onerous packed filth, good gravel or paved. There was just one technical part on Slack Canyon that wanted further consideration and some creek crossings that may all be ridden. It’s additionally an amazing in a single day bikepacking route with a mess of free campsites and plentiful water on BLM land in Slack Canyon.

Instructions: To get began make your solution to Rock Island Grade Street simply throughout the freeway from the dam and park within the giant pull out on the appropriate. Begin the climb of Rock Island Grade Rd. which winds up the hillside by means of two large switchbacks to achieve the plateau. Whereas this isn’t a lung buster, it’s a constantly average climb for about three miles. Sometimes sneak a peek over your shoulder on the ever increasing views of the Columbia River Valley and the mountains to the south.

Ascending Rock Island Grade Street within the early morning.

Street Three SW in Waterville heading east towards Slack Canyon.

From there the wheatfields begin to seem and the climb continues on simple filth and gravel roads in a much less strenuous style for the following 13 miles. As you get nearer to the highest of the climb you’ll go Duffy Creek, which Andy Dappen wrote about right here. Proceed on the principle street previous the trailhead till you attain the junction with Titchenal Canyon Rd. You’ll know you’re shut whenever you see a big white constructing and some smaller cabins within the distance. To the left is Indian Camp Rd., which takes you to Badger Mt. Your flip goes proper and follows and simple descent down Titchenal Canyon.

This canyon goes by in a blur and after a couple of minutes and miles the filth modifications to some properly paved backroads. Proceed straight on M. Rd. SW for a brief bit till you hit Street four SW. Flip proper and benefit from the mild downhill to the junction with Three Street SW and the tremendous tiny city of Alstown. You’ll see a grain storage constructing in Alstown, the one constructing in Alstown, which is the place Douglas Creek formally begins. A current journey down the previous railroad grade and related historical past may be learn right here. Extra adventurous travellers might experience right down to the underside of this path and meet up with Slack Canyon, however it’s a bit arduous and possibly overgrown.

About 5 or 6 creek crossings by means of Douglas Creek, all rideable.

We’ll go left right here and comply with Three Street SW because it modifications to gravel, swoops up after which heads due east on simple, packed gravel roads by means of the wheatfieds. The driving for the following 7 miles is up and down, however by no means too up nor down. Benefit from the solitude and the street high quality. After four miles on Three Street SW you’ll intersect with H Street SW/Slack Canyon. Flip proper and after one other 3.5 miles you’ll start the lengthy eight mile descent down the Douglas Creek drainage.

Backside of Slack Canyon the place Douglas Creek meets Palisades.

Shortly you’ll go the kiosk and decrease trailhead for Douglas Creek. Proceed dropping down and relying on the time of yr, you’ll encounter a handful of river crossings, in all probability just a few snakes (rattly and non-rattly), remnants of the previous railroad grade, excellent terrestrial views and, on the backside, some good quaint swimming holes. 4x4s used to have the ability to drive all the way in which down Slack Canyon however it’s now impassable to automobiles and vans on the southern finish.

Finally the canyon ends and also you’ll drop down into Palisades the place you’ll get on Palisades Rd. for ten uneventful paved miles again to Freeway 28. The worst a part of the journey is the reasonably harrowing experience on the fortunately giant shoulder of Freeway 28 again to your rig. Take the appropriate flip, say your prayers, and prepare for the wind rush of semis and apple vans doing 65+ over your left shoulder.

My favourite shot wanting southeast towards the Columbia River on Rock Island Grade Street.

All in all you’ll put in nearly 54 miles, 14 of which is paved, and climb and descend shut to five,000 toes of vertical. After we rode it on mountain bikes we have been simply shy of 5 hours however we battled a headwind for the climb up the plateau, Palisades Rd. and Freeway 28. A match rider might do that loop in near 4 hours.

Journey Reporter: Ray Birks June 2019.

Depart It Higher Than You discovered It. This must be each person’s purpose. Choose up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds alongside your route, throw branches over undesirable spur trails…

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