Friday, Aug. 07, 2009

Portland, Ore.

Route: Colonel Summers Park to Mount Tabor to Rocky Butte
Distance: 18 miles (29 km)

Portland really knows how to treat its cyclists. Overlaying the city is a grid of well-used bike lanes, many of which lead to beautiful parks and lakes (click here for bike maps). You can rent bikes for $20 per half-day at Citybikes, a workers' cooperative. The ride from Colonel Summers Park to Rocky Butte offers a look at several residential neighborhoods along with short but strenuous climbs to the tops of two extinct volcanoes — with spectacular city views — while staying within the city limits and on designated bike lanes. Start by heading east from Colonel Summers, mostly on SE Belmont Street, to Mount Tabor Park, your first climb up a volcanic cinder cone. If you pack a picnic lunch, there are places to lounge and eat here — the views of downtown Portland are stunning. From Mount Tabor, go north to the Rocky Butte Natural Area, another cinder cone. The views from here are different, but just as spectacular: you'll be at eye level with planes landing at Portland International. After riding down Rocky Butte Drive, complete the loop by heading back to Colonel Summers Park on Tillamook and NE 20th streets.