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Special June weekend: Hike, walk and bike the Columbia River Gorge

Enjoy the waterfalls, the walks and the socials at the Columbia River Biennial Classic in June
Enjoy the waterfalls, the walks and the socials at the Columbia River Biennial Classic in June

Every other year, Portland's all-volunteer Columbia River Walking Club puts on a long weekend of walking, hiking and biking in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. And each year they try to outdo the last by finding new and interesting trails for participants. The events, running Thursday through Sunday, are open to the public and are provided free of charge.

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge
Elizabeth R. Rose

The Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic will be held in Cascade Locks on June 19 - 22, 2014. "This is the 10th time this event has been held and it just keeps getting bigger, and better we hope," said Dick Koonce, event organizer.

They expect participants from 25 - 30 states and four foreign countries. So far there are even registrations from Norway, Germany, Italy and Great Britain! There will be 13 walks/hikes from very easy to somewhat difficult. The marked or mapped walks/hikes include Eagle Creek, Multnomah Falls, across the recently repaired Benson Bridge, to the top of the falls and then down beside Wahkeena Falls.

Once you register in Cascade Locks you can select a route from there or drive to one of the planned events. The 14 events are available all days. Some events also offer times when they are guided and participants must be there at a specific time. Full list of events and times.

This friendly, self-paced series of events may take you on a leisurely walk from the registration point to Marine Park and onto Thunder Island, in the middle of the Columbia River, or on a challenging hike to Dog Mountain. The trail climbs 2,900 feet in 3 miles to an open meadow with a magnificent array of wildflowers which, in June, are in full bloom. There are events for every fitness level. The choice of routes is yours. Some participants challenge themselves to do all 14 events. Others come for one day and take one walk.

There is even a route for bikers. The Tunnels Bike Ride (25km) routes participants through the Mosier Tunnels to the little town of Mosier. Here you can stop at the ice-cream store or just bike through town and continue to the Memaloose Overlook then back along the Old Columbia River Highway, through the tunnels to the start point.

There will be a potluck dinner in Marine Park at 6:00 pm on Friday and a Sternwheeler dinner cruise (fee and pre-registration needed) on Saturday evening. Each day the club hosts a hot dog lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marine Park in Cascade Locks for a small fee.

All of the walks/hikes (and the bike route) are sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association (AVA). Those participating in the AVA incentive system pay $3.00 per event for a stamp in their record books.

Non AVA participants are always welcome at no charge (donations accepted).

All routes are available every day. Register for any or all walks and the bike event and complete them at your leisure, returning to the registration point to finish. There is a pre-registration form on the website but participants are not required to register ahead of time for the events.

Dates: Thursday June 19, 2014 through Sunday June 22, 2014.

Times: Start between 8AM and 1PM, finish by 4PM.

Registration Point: Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Drive east on I-84 from Portland and take exit 44. Continue straight ahead on Wa Na Pa St. to Marine Park on your left. Enter park and follow signs. This is also the location of the Pot Luck dinner and the Sternwheeler Cruise.

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