March 7, 2019 | By Tualatin Valley | No Comments

Cycle Series: Western Tualatin Valley Car-Free Loop

Scenic Bikeway by Ken Kochey

Not all cycling getaways require a crazy web of logistical planning. If you please, you can eschew the car rental reservation in favor of a car-free experience. The Western Tualatin Valley Car-Free Loop starts at a MAX light rail stop; so, you can trade in a car for the fit-in-your-back-pocket convenience of a MAX pass.

For turn-by-turn directions of the trail that you can send directly to your mobile device, make use of Ride with GPS. The trail page also includes a helpful map with points of interest plotted along your riding path.

From the Portland International Airport, you can take the MAX light rail directly to one of these three Hillsboro hotels:

See?—no car needed! And the light rail has dedicated bike hooks for seamless transportation. After check-in, you can hop onto the MAX again to travel to the nearby MAX station at Hillsboro’s SE 3rd and Central stop. Any last-minute tune-ups can be taken care of at the nearby Washington County Community Bike Center.

Following the Ride with GPS cue sheet, you’ll soon be cycling outside of Hillsboro’s charming downtown streets and into the more agricultural roads of Cornelius. By the time your wheels hit Forest Grove, you may be ready for a short respite. The big-as-your-head cinnamon buns are a great pastry to share. Down the street, Waltz Brewing presents its rustic charm with local beers and a come-as-you-are atmosphere (spandex shorts and helmets welcome).

Next, Forest Grove really shows off along this loop as the sweet college town seamlessly sweeps into wine country. For a picnic break—or to pack some bottles on your bike for later—stop at Montinore Estate or Gaston’s Plum Hill Vineyards. Whether you decide to do a short wine tasting or not, the views and hospitality are well worth the pitstop.

Changing scenery once again, the Western Tualatin Valley Car-Free Loop next circles around Henry Hagg Lake. This loop within the day’s larger loop boasts 10.5 miles of paved roads for your cycling pleasure. A seven-foot-wide shoulder promises a safe and comfortable ride around the lake’s sparkling perimeter.

Exiting the lake area, there is an alternate option back to the start of the trail, allowing for new views and new experiences. For sustenance, we suggest stopping at the Screamin’ Chicken Diner. The friendly and small-town feel of the restaurant translates into its food, as well. The biscuits and gravy, thick butterscotch milkshake or fried chicken gizzards are all caloric splurges that are well-deserved with today’s ride of over forty miles.

As you near downtown Forest Grove once again, take a water break at Fernhill Wetlands. Here, you’ll see birds making this stop their watering hole, as well.

Beautiful nature, cycling and good food options. We call that a day well spent. For even more cycling routes, read our guide to cycling in Tualatin Valley.

Previous Cycle Series: Banks-Vernonia State Trail

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