BY: JOSIAH DEAN
Owning a boutique destination inn means we meet a lot of interesting folks from near and far. Just this week, guests from France, Germany and Italy. And that was just Wednesday! Closer to home, I met Ayleen Crotty of ORBike and Heidi Bierle from Enroute Transport in Portland, about developing cycling tours here — and they reminded me of a few things.
One, we need to let you know we’re Bike Friendly! Travel Oregon gave us this designation so long ago. (Oregon is the first state in the US to create a Bike Friendly Business program geared toward travelers.)
But we’ve been too busy to get the sign OR tell you! So there, now you know. But, you might wonder, what does that mean?
As a Bike Friendly Business, we welcome cyclists in our hotel. (Apparently that’s not a common thing? Sheesh!) We have places you can store your bike, pack you lunch so you don’t have to worry about what’s available to eat along the way (basically nothing, btw), offer basic tools and rags, a foot pump and water outside to hose off after a long hot grimy ride. After a bath in the clawfoot tub, enjoy dinner here. We even have spa treatments to soothe weary muscles and bones, before retreating to your cozy bed.
It also means we’ve curated a good list of rides from 10-100+ miles. You have access to miles and miles of paved and gravel roads around here. With low traffic, 300 days of sunshine and—as Autumn approaches—lower temperatures, a solid recipe for GREAT cycling.
So whether you’re a road, mountain or gravel rider, there’s bound to be a ride you’d love!
Go…Ride a Bike!
Here are our 3 favorite bike rides we often point guests to. (Be sure to consult your own maps for direction/accuracy and road conditions, please.)
Dufur-Boyd Loop—10 miles from Balch and back, on back roads and Highway 197.
Dufur > Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway. Long grade up down to Tygh Valley (15 miles) where you can stop for lunch or snack. If you’re game, jump on the 33-mile Scenic Bikeway Loop through Sherar’s Falls and Maupin. Totally gorgeous.
Or drive to Tygh Valley, park and just do the loop!) Here’s a great article with more juicy bits.
Dufur Valley > Mount Hood & Beyond: Ride up FS 44 towards Mt Hood. Go as far as you’d like: up to 27-ish miles, where it ends at Hwy 35.
For the hearty, do the loop: drop down into Hood River (on Hwy 35), then take the Historic Columbia River Highway (Old Rt 30) from Hood River to The Dalles then up (and down and up) Hwy 197 to Dufur. That’s about 100 miles. (Tip: check with Forest Service Barlow Ranger District to be sure the road is open.)
For gravel and mountain biking, FS 44—Dufur Valley Road—is a cycling wonderland. Surveyor’s Ridge is becoming a popular spot that seems fun. Best maps, terrain and road details at 44Trails.org
If you want to travel here by bike, you can learn how on Columbia Gorge Car Free (scroll to Itineraries—you’ll see the Balch!).
After your legs turn into noodles, recharge with an ice cream at the Kramer’s Market or a coffee at We3. Wander about town, peek in the windows (whoa!) Poke around the museum and chat with locals. Eat on the patio. Get restored with Reiki. Nap. Read. Journal. Lie in a hammock. Sleep. Repeat.
Pick your pleasure. It’s your time to un-busy and unwind,
Claire & Josiah for Team Balch
P.S. Speaking of a grueling ride… the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail is approaching and we’re right on the Barlow Road (that rugged detour to avoid the perilous whitewater ending of the trail). We developed a tour weekend—via van—to take you to key points along the way. You can see the Trail with someone who knows it like the back of his hand. It’s filling up, so if you’re interested book your spot.