Sick of the cold, muddy singletrack found during winters in the PNW? Head to the Syncline Trail System of a dose of dry trail!
The Syncline Trail System—located just across the Columbia River Gorge from Hood River, OR and not far from White Salmon, WA—offers a needed escape for local mountain bikers and hikers in the dead of winter. When all the other trails are too wet and snowy to ride or hike, the locals head here. This exposed, south facing mountainside catches sunlight all year round, melting snow fast and drying the dirt quickly after a rain. In fact, if you’re coming to the Hood River area in hopes of finding deep, dark Pacific Northwest forests to hike in and you choose to visit the Syncline area, you may be shocked at how dry, rocky, and barren the terrain actually is. But of course, dry and rocky can make for fantastic riding and hiking!
From this windswept mountainside, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the expansive Columbia River and the gorge that it has formed. The largest river in the Pacific Northwest, the scope of this waterway is a stunning sight. The Columbia runs for 1,243 miles, is “the fourth-largest river in the United States by volume, [and]. . .has the greatest flow of any North American river entering the Pacific,” according to Wikipedia.
This relatively small—but very steep!—trail system packs a plethora of singletrack options into a small area. Due to the layout, it’s a bit tough to connect all the trails into one epic ride or hike. Instead, the loop options presented here are the most logical route choices. This guidebook offers two loops for mountain biking and two for hiking. You’ll find both a short option and a longer option for each sport.
For mountain bikers with a penchant for pain, it’s possible to ride both of these loops at once… but the best route is still to pedal up the old road grade both times. That choice would mean you’d ride these trails as a double loop, as delineated here, essentially doing two rides in one.
However you approach the Syncline trails, this zone is a true mid-winter Pacific Northwest gem!