Cycle Portland, Road Ride, Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is a rural sanctuary just north of downtown Portland. It is a favorite weekend bike ride of cyclists because of the flat, low-traffic roads. The island is predominantly farmland, and the interior is home to flocks of migrating birds. Beyond the paved roads on the north side of the island are several beaches. Be sure to bring bike repair equipment as there are no bike shops (and no gas stations) on the island.

Terrain

Primarily paved roadways. The roads become rougher in Columbia County on the outer end of the island. At the end of the paved roadways there are dirt roads that can be navigated by mountain bike.

Traffic

Minimal motor vehicles; some farm vehicles.

Access

By car, take US 30 west toward St. Helens. Turn right onto Sauvie Island Road/NW Sauvie Island Bridge. Parking in a lot at the foot of the bridge.

By public transportation, take Bus #17 toward St. Johns.

Food and Drink

There are several places to stop along the route at convenience stores and cafés, but they are a bit of a distance from each other. Be sure to have plenty of water and some snacks with you.

Side Trip

Forest Park, St. Johns neighborhood.

 

More Details

This ride will take you on almost all of the paved roads on the island. The route on the northern side of the island takes you along the Columbia River where you’ll ride next to the dike. The southern side of the island travels along the Multnomah Channel where you’ll ride along the top of the dike and see houseboat communities on one side and farms on the other. The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is a bird watcher’s paradise. The wetlands are wintering grounds for 1.3 million migrating ducks and geese.

About 50 bald eagles find the island to be their idyllic winter nesting spot and can be seen from November to February. If you are lucky, you may see some of the nesting osprey that have built their large nests atop several of the telephone poles. Be sure to take some time to stop and access one of the elevated structures where you can read some history about the island or take a walk to the interior of the island along unpaved pathways. Fishing, boating, sun-bathing, and cycling bring many people to the island of approximately 2,000 yearround residents.

About four miles beyond the end of NW Reeder Road there are beaches, one of which is a popular clothing-optional beach. The most colorful time to ride on the island is in the summer and early fall, but the island has good cycling year-round. The only time I avoid this ride is in mid-winter when the head winds can be quite strong. There are farms and nurseries, sheep and cattle ranches. Several of the commercial farms allow pickyour-own blueberry and strawberry fields. In the fall, Sauvie Island is a great place for a Sunday ride to pick the perfect pumpkin.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Begin at the parking lot on the island riding south on N Gillihan Rd.
  • 6.08 Right onto NW Reeder Rd heading along the north side of island.
  • 8.5 Enter Columbia County; the road gets distinctly rougher. The road follows the Columbia River to your right.
  • 10.6 Sauvie Island Eastside Check Station; enter the wildlife area observation area on foot.
  • 11.3 Look up! There is an osprey nest atop the telephone pole that has been a favorite of local bird watchers for years.
  • 12.0 Climb the short hill over the levy and an expansive view of river greets you.
  • 12.3 The paved road ends. Be sure to look out for another osprey nest on a telephone pole where the pavement ends. Turn around and head back along the same road.
  • 18.5 Join up with N Gillihan Rd again. Veer right and follow signs toward Bailey Nursery and Sauvie Island School.
  • 20.6 Oak Island Rd meets NW Reeder Rd; continue straight.
  • 22.9 Right onto Sauvie Island Rd and ride on the southern side of the island down to beaches.
  • 29.6 Pavement ends just beyond the telephone pole. The beaches are beyond this point. Turn around and head back in the same direction.
  • 36.4 Intersection of NW Reeder Rd and Sauvie Island Rd; continue on NW Reeder Rd back to the parking lot on NW Gillihan Rd.
  • 38.2 Return to parking lot. End ride.
  • Trail map

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    61.1 km / 37.966 mi

    Total Distance

    97 m / 317 ft

    Total Ascent

    100 m / 327 ft

    Total Descent

    16 m / 52 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 38.2
    Elevation Gain: 365
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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