Route Overview

Region

Washington

Miles

628

Days Out

9-16

Recommended Tire Size

2.25`` - 3``

Season

Spring through
Fall

Elevation Gain

36,100'

Difficulty

5/10 Physical
5/10 Technical

Primary Surface(s)

Rough & Smooth Gravel
Paved

Route Map

Route Details

Immerse yourself in Eastern Washington by following the Columbia River for 620 miles, rambling and camping through pine forests, sagebrush steppe, ancient coulees and wildlife refuges, past dams and towns, along irrigation ditches, farmland and orchards.

Highlights include Lake Roosevelt camping and forests, the Colville Reservation, sagebrush steppe and cliffs of the Big Bend wildlife areas between Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dam. Later on, you pass through coulees (canyons) scoured by the Missoula Floods such as the Douglas Creek and Ancient Lakes areas. You will also see agricultural areas and irrigation ditches near Quincy and the Tri Cities that are fed by water from Moses Lake and Grand Coulee. This is followed by the Hanford Reach which is the only remaining free flowing 50-mile section of the entire river, wind farms along the eastern gorge, the farmland of Horse Heaven hills, the beautiful Klickitat rail trail, and native fishing platforms which are still seen in action today on the Klickitat River and at The Dalles.

From the Canadian border to The Dalles, follow the path of the Columbia River through Washington State over terrain ranging from pine and fir forests along Lake Roosevelt to sagebrush steppe, coulees, farmland, and cliffs of the eastern Columbia gorge.

The goal of the route is to reveal the natural and human history of the Columbia River. It passes several dams, including the Grand Coulee, which creates the giant Lake Roosevelt that the route follows for the first 80 miles. Due to access challenges on private land, the route can’t follow the river precisely, so it explores paths through nearby features and terrain. While doing this ride, you can experience some excellent taco establishments most days south of Grand Coulee.

The route attempts to stick to dirt roads where possible. Think of the route as a series of dirt road areas (Colville, Big Bend wildlife refuge, Ancient Lakes, Douglas Creek, etc.) connected by calm roads, some of which are paved. The few connections on busier roads (north of Quincy and just south of the Hanford Reach) are short.

The road surface varies a lot, so a gravel bike with wide tires or a mountain bike is recommended. There are some rough and steep sections in the wildlife refuges, but they are short enough to push through, as are the few hike-a-bikes.

  • Paved: 45%
  • Smooth Gravel: 20%
  • Rough Gravel: 25%
  • 4×4 Road: 10%
  • Singletrack: 0%
  • There are resupply options every day.
  • Having a means to treat water is suggested for this route.
  • Camping locations are available throughout the route at designated sites and on public land.
  • A $35 camping permit (2024) is needed for the Colville Reservation. https://www.colvilletribes.com/parks-recreation
  • Parking: At the north end in Kettle Falls, riders could check with Columbia Point Resort for long term parking. The Dalles on the south end has many parking options. Towns along the way also have parking options.
  • There is public transportation to Kettle Falls on the north end (Gold line airporter from Spokane), Wenatchee (Amtrak), Waterville (Link bus) and The Dalles (The Link bus or Amtrak, nearby at Wishram or Bingen).

Pat Boyle from Seattle, Washington created and stewards this route. Here is a little about Pat in his own words:

I have been bikepacking for 5 years on various routes, including the parts of the Cross Washington, the Baja Divide, the European Divide Trail, La Ruta Mala (Cuba), Holyland Challenge Route (Israel), New Mexico Off Road Runner, Oregon Big Country, The Highland Trail 550 (Scotland) and Tour Aotearoa (New Zealand). I help maintain the Baja Divide Facebook group and route guide.

Additionally, Greg Foltz, Chris Rogers, John Blacksmith, and Sam Naficy have all ridden parts of the Columbia Ramble Bikepacking Route and provided guidance and advice. Pat, Greg and Sam have provided the route photos shared here.

Pat has offered to be available to answer questions if you are planning a trip on this route. Please also get in touch with any updates on route conditions that may be relevant to other riders.

Please submit your questions and comments on the route via the contact form below.

    • This route traverses the traditional lands of the Colville, Nespelem, San Poil, Yakama, Klickitat, Umatilla, Wanapum, Moses-Columbia, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, and Cayuse.