During a spring ride in April, I discovered some new beauty in Klickitat County, in south-central Washington State.
While visiting family outside of Goldendale, Washington, I often take Highway 142 from Lyle on the Columbia River north, then east, to Goldendale. That route is wonderful on a motorcycle, with good pavement quality, a wide variety of curves, and some excellent scrub oak, pine, and grassland scenery along the Klickitat River. This time I decided to take a different route to explore new roads.
The route began in Lyle as usual, but this time I took the Centerville Highway instead of 142. The road climbs steeply above the town of Lyle, with several tight switchbacks, and soon I was in pine forest with lots of green spring grass underneath. It looked like a well-groomed park.
Once on top at 1,700 feet above sea level, the road has wonderful curves and several small up-and-down hills that are a lot of fun to ride. This is deer country, however, so the rider must stay alert.
The road emerges out of the trees and heads mostly east toward Centerville across a prairie dotted with farms and giant wind turbines that generate a lot of renewable energy for the region. The town of Centerville itself is small and has no services (gas, food, or lodging) that I could find, but that’s no matter. The road meets up with Highway 97 in short order, with the town of Goldendale just a few miles to the north.
Once I gassed up in Goldendale, I caught Hoctor Road heading due east from Highway 97, until I came to gravel Oak Flat Road under the rotating blades of several massive wind turbines. Oak Flat Road descends steeply through a narrow gulch lined with scrub oak. The gravel is in good shape, but if you take this route when it’s raining, expect some slippery, muddy conditions. Oak Flat Road connects with Bickleton Highway, a paved rural two-lane road that joins Goldendale in the west with the tiny town of Bickleton to the east.
|Hilleberg Namatj 3GT with 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650|
I stayed at my relative’s house and slept in my Hilleberg Namatj 3GT tent. As I have mentioned in a previous post, this is an outstanding tent with well thought-out features and long-lasting quality. I recommend spending some time practicing set up and tear down prior to use. It’s a really nice tent, but it’s big and takes a bit more time to set up than an el-cheapo dome tent from Walmart.
For the trip home, I wanted to continue the theme of exploration, so I headed east on Bickleton Highway through the tiny community of Cleveland and into Bickleton itself. I saw a card-lock fueling station in Bickleton and a tavern, but there didn’t seem to be any other services available. Be sure you have plenty of fuel before taking this route.
My next leg of the journey home took me zigzagging south along East Road under rows and rows of wind turbines. The road has many straight stretches that are a few hundred yards to a quarter of a mile long, with a 45 degree or 90 degree angled turn to the next straight stretch. Although it sounds rudimentary and boring, it is actually a fun route. Eventually the Columbia River comes into view and the road descends down the hill to the small town of Roosevelt. There is a cafe there, but no gas.
In Roosevelt, I joined SR14 for the scenic ride west to Dallesport and the junction with Highway 197, where I crossed south over the Columbia River and back into Oregon. The Dalles has full services.