My Portland riding routes are generally based around Skyline Boulevard, the road that runs along the upper ridges of the West Hills. This road serves as my launching point for a number of rides, and itself serves as one of the better rides in the Portland Metro area. Finding the Rock Creek Road Loop was the result of a bad hangover and the corresponding need to sweat out whatever I drank the night before. For some reason I feel like some of my better ride explorations in Portland are the result of long nights. Oh well. This ride is great because it mixes some decent climbs with some longer low key portions that are great for sprints or base building.
I usually start this ride by heading up the beginning of the Lovejoy loop, but at the top of Thompson I turn right onto Skyline (instead of left). From that point, the ride winds along Skyline, exposing you to some amazing views of the Coast Range to the east. I know this view well because it manages to make me consistently veer off the road into the bushes because I’m too busy enjoying the views. This is cause for concern as I ride through urban areas a lot. Nothing says good morning like a run in with a dump truck. Riding along Skyline is always fun because its fairly fast, with lots of rolling terrain, and the change in scenery from urban metropolis to farms and livestock is striking. I always enjoy the rural scenery, reached so quickly via this road.
Eventually Skyline will meander down to a stop sign at NW Cornelius Pass Road. Cross the road here (careful – its a fast one, and there is a semi-blind corner for cars coming from west to east). After crossing, Skyline will continue to the right, and NW Old Cornelius Pass Road will be on the left. Take a left onto Old Cornelius Pass road and then look right for NW Rock Creek Road. Once on Rock Creek, watch out near the train tracks as the road is incredibly torn apart. After the track the road heads back into a small valley, filled with some random houses and an even more random sculpture garden. The road starts a long gradual climb back up to Skyline once you pass the sculptures. This part of the ride is in a shallow valley, and from what I can tell very little traffic heads back there. I really enjoy this part of the ride, it is usually really quiet and there is generally little traffic. The only potential problem is its weird isolation. Only 20 miles from downtown and I swear I can hear banjo music.
Once back up on Skyline, the road will loop back to the fork, completing the Rock Creek Loop portion of the ride. I usually cross NW Cornelius Pass Road again and do this one as a big out and back. Gets more booze out that way.
Distance: 35 miles roundtrip
Time: around 3 hours
Directions: Take the Lovejoy Loop (Lovejoy to Cornell, right on 53rd, right again on Thompson) but instead of heading left on Skyline take a right (you will be heading north). Stay on Skyline until you cross NW Cornelius Pass Road. Take a left onto Old Cornelius Pass Road and then a quick right onto Rock Creek Road. Take this road until it intersects with Skyline Road and then take a right (towards the south).