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Epic Rides: Klickitat Turkey Hunter

21st century road building at its best

Epic rides are what motorcyclists live for. And while some motorcycle-focused map companies will tell you that riding FS 25 along the east side of Mt. St. Helen's tops the list of rides in the Pacific Northwest, they could not be further from the truth. A ride along poor old broken FS 25 should be concluded with a visit to the nearest chiropractor as soon as possible. FS 25 is a prime example of how not to maintain what could be a great road.

Recently, Klickitat County completed its multi-layered plan to make a complete paved route running between Glenwood down to Lyle, without having to run the long way around through Klickitat Canyon.

To the south, Canyon Road has been paved for decades up to Appleton. Around 2010 they paved the road to the north and Fisher Hill Road all the way to the Yakima Reservation boundary. In 2020 the road department completed paving the north length of Fisher Hill Road and Lakeside Road through the Conboy Wildlife Refuge. After producing the Rally in the Gorge for two decades, we were finally able to introduce road riders to this excellent romp during the Panoramica Fun Run. No reason why others shouldn't enjoy it as well.

But let's talk turkey, because you just may see a few along the way. On a recent September morning romp along the route, my bike and I encountered not one, but three turkey broods in the road. That'll keep ya on your toes. Turkey broods are a common sight along the roads of both Klickitat and Skamania counties. Consider it a sign of luck each time you encounter them. Afterall, you're lucky to be out riding in this pristine area.

If you're planning for the holidays, turkeys can be legally hunted in Klickitat County; consult the county website for details.

For the actual ride, I like to have breakfast or lunch in White Salmon where there are multiple eateries on the hill above the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Then I hop down to Highway 14, gas up in Bingen if I need it and head east a few miles to the start of the route, Old Highway 8.

Years ago, Highway 8 was the only way to ride along the lower section of the Columbia River on the Washington side. Today State Route 14 handles the task, but there are sections of Old Highway 8 you can still ride today. This particular section brings you up out of the Gorge passing across an alluvial fan of an ancient lava flow as you make your way across the upper ridgeline. Views down to the river are stunning here.

As you descend, you'll make a left onto Canyon Road and ride this 10 mile collection of endless twisties and sweepers up to the Appleton area. The actual town, a few houses, a fire station, and a post office are hidden away in the trees to the left near the junction with Sleepy Hollow Road.

Continuing north, the road shifts into roller coaster mode for the next ten miles as you slalom your way northward. At the Y, keep left onto Fisher Hill Road.

When the road begins to descend, a stunning view of Mt. Adams appears, and you glide downhill. To your left, an overlook appears which is worth pulling out for and getting a picture of Mt. A with your bike in the foreground. Photo tip: Use the 2X zoom option on your phone, back up from the bike and the mountain will appear twice as large in your shot.

Depart the overlook and turn right onto Lakeside Road. You are in the vicinity of the Conboy Wildlife Refuge, home to many kinds of birds, from raptors to songbirds and more. Just not pterodactyls as far as we know. After five miles, turn left at the stop sign and ride into Glenwood where you'll find a small grocery store, café, and gas station.

For your return flight, you have options. You could retrace your route and see which direction was better for you. Another option is to ride the BZ Glenwood road back toward the Gorge. Or you can take the Glenwood Highway, through upper Klickitat Canyon, then ride the Klickitat Highway south back into the Gorge.

This ride is a perfect way to work on your cornering skills, throttle and braking control, or making use of the ride-changing vanishing point technique. But if you packed a bow and arrow or a musket in September, you might just bring home Thanksgiving dinner.

TM/September 2021

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