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Mosier Tunnels
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Mosier TunnelsWhat’s to Love:  The Mosier Tunnels are locate just outside Mosier, Oregon and are a couple of exits east of Hood River, Oregon.  Located high up on bluff, they are part of what used to be the old Columbia Gorge highway.  This roadway is now closed to cars for an impressive 4.7 miles, which will bring you all the way back to Hood River.  This is a perfect destination for a family bike ride, especially when combined with so many other destinations nearby. 

Mosier TunnelsIf you want to know more about the tunnels and access, I recommend Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon.  The book gives a short historical description with a detailed description of the route.  We only rode from Mosier about 1 mile up the route, which was actually plenty considering it was all uphill.

Mosier TunnelsAesthetically, the ride is hard to beat.  The roadway itself is smooth as silk, and there are gorgeous views wherever you  look.  Passing through the old tunnels is a lot of fun, and kids will enjoy this part of the ride.  The two lookouts you’ll encounter (one pictured to the left) offer stunning panoramic views of the Columbia River.

Caveats:  This is not a good spot for beginning riders, training wheels, or push bikes.  On the other hand, if you have kids who don’t mind riding in a bike seat, trailer, or pedaling a trailer bike, than this ride is probably for you!

The sun exposure is intense!  It felt 10 degrees warmer while on the road.  If you’re riding on a sunny day, make sure you bring plenty of water.  If you decide to hike the route, bring a sun hat and sunscreen.

Make sure you bring your checkbook or some cash – it’s $5.00 for a day-use permit.  Sullivan’s book claims that there is a machine where you can use your credit card.  Didn’t see it.  We were at the Mark O’ Hatfield Trailhead East.

WebsiteOregon State Parks has a nice piece on the trail.

Distance from Portland:  Exit 69 off 84 East from Portland.  Here is a  really cool map of the area.

Recommended Ages:  Not the best area for young kids who are riding without training wheels.  There is too much uphill at the beginning.  I think the best age is 3 and younger, because you have to cart them in some way.  And, kids 10 and older will have fun with this ride.  If you have teens, I think they would enjoy the ride as well.

Parental Stress Factor:  Depends on the skill of your bikers and how they are experiencing the ride (i.e., trailer bike, Burley cart, pedal bike, etc.).  Watching young riders on their first big (and long) hill can be a bit nerve racking to say the least.  I certainly wouldn’t rate it low stress with my current situation!

Physical Difficulty:  If you ride as described in this article, it’s definitely a strenuous, 1-mile climb.  My 7-year old would have probably been fine with other kid-riders, but he was definitely getting frustrated quickly.  I had to tow him up most of the mile, which was quite surprising (and difficult!) at the time.

Family Fun Factor:  If all the marbles fall into place, and it’s a good fit for your crew, this is one of the best places for a family ride!  It’s a closed, well-maintained, wide roadway where kids can really cut loose.  Plus, there are so many other opportunities in the area for family fun (see Insider Info).

Pet Friendly:  Dogs are allowed on a leash, but in my opinion, this is not the best place for a dog, even on a leash.  It’s all paved, there is no water whatsoever, and the sun exposure is too much for a dog.

Weather Considerations:  Open year round, but certainly the best time is on a sunny day where  you can really take in the views.  I wouldn’t do the ride on a cloudy day.  Just try to avoid riding when it’s super hot or at the hottest time of the day.

Mosier TunnelsInsider Info:  If your family doesn’t want to do the entire 9.4 miles, I recommend biking uphill (not too bad) for about one mile from the Mosier-side (Hatfield East parking area).  After a mile, you’ll want to stop at an overlook for a nice break.  For most families, this might be the best place to turnaround and head back to the trailhead.  You’ll get a mile all downhill, which is perfect practice for a kid to work on their breaking and bike handling at higher speeds.

Check-out all the other fun adventures around this ride:  Free Riding in Post Canyon, Tamanawas Falls, Visiting the Dalles, Hood River, Bonneville Dam.

Mosier TunnelsFamily Tips:  Keep an eye on young riders!  While mainly a fun ride for most people, there were definitely hard-core bikers there trying to put in the miles.  Some flew by us going very fast.  Another rider kept saying “On your left!” over and over again when I was having trouble getting my 3-year old out of the way.  She was in the right and remained calm; however, it was enough to stress me out a bit.

Make sure you use the bathroom at the trailhead before heading out on your ride.  No water or bathrooms along the route!

Technorati Tags: Mosier, Oregon, Tunnels, Columbia, Gorge, Scenic, Highway, Old, biking, hiking, road

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  1. Hey I was just up there taking pictures a few weeks ago! Beautiful spot for picnic when the wild flowers are in bloom 🙂

    Don't think I'll try biking it anytime soon though!

  2. We tried to do this awhile back, and made the mistake of coming at it from the Hood River side…Not a lot happens in the amount of time and distance a 4 yr old could walk. Next time we'll try it from the Mosier side, and with her being 5, and we'll bring her scooter, which she loves riding—not so hip on the bike yet, but hopefully that will come. Thanks again for all your great info!

    • Kristin,

      While there is a bit more action from the Mosier side, it is a considerable uphill grade for that first mile. Just be prepared to carry that scooter! Vince

  3. We just came back from Hood River this weekend and I used much of the info on your website to plan our trip! I agree that the Mosier tunnels are too difficult for little kids. Although my 7 year old daughter finished the entire bike path, she had to walk significant portions of it. I think it's best to head from the Hood River side because it's easier going from west to east. Heading up that long uphill portion off the bat would just be too discouraging. Or, you can simply do the Dalles Riverfront Trail which is much easier, and in my opinion, more scenic.

    • Thanks for the comments Warren. Really great that your 7-year old made it! That's fantastic. Yes…I totally agree that the uphill from the Mosier side is a daunting challenge and can quickly ruin a good trip! I also agree with you that if you're after a better biking trail, head up to The Dalles Riverfront Trail.

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