Find the Gnomes

Length: 39 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3507 ft
Highest Point: 1098 ft
Ride Direction: Clockwise
Recommended Gearing: 39X27 or equivalent

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A side path allows you to skip the tunnel on Cornell RdThe West Hills of Portland are where most folks cut their teeth when getting into cycling. And why not? The riding there is incredible. Ask someone where you should go riding and they will undeniably ask, “Have you been to Skyline?” In case you haven’t, Skyline Blvd runs along the top of the West Hills, overlooking Portland’s downtown and north side as well as Hillsboro down far below to the west. Having ridden in many locations along the west coast, I’ve discovered that Skyline is synonymous with many roads that run along the crest of mountains and hills. I’ve ridden Skylines in San Diego, San Jose, Portland and even Oakland. As a side note, if you’re ever heading to Oakland, bring your bike. It will really surprise you, as you ride through redwoods, that there could be such good riding there. Getting back to our own Skyline, you will be enthralled with how good we have it. Just a short climb from downtown leads you to a relatively quiet paradise. And with that in mind, let’s find some gnomes on this next adventure.

I still haven’t taken every possible twist and turn that the West Hills provide, but this ride offers a collection of the very best. 53rd St doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it is extremely secluded and well worth venturing off of Thompson Rd, a gem in its own right. Bring a low gear to climb the bottom slopes however. Germantown is a fantastic road that runs right over the top of the hills and down both sides. When climbing from the west side, I highly recommend taking Old Germantown Rd instead. It is very rural and most cars do not take it. It will be yours to enjoy. After cresting to Skyline once more, turn down Mcnamee. I avoided this road for some time due to the warning sign for trucks. However, immediately following this sign, there is another which says, No trucks and then another that says, Be Courteous to Cyclists. I found it to be very quiet and clean with incredible views to the west.

After completing this ride, you’ll surely head back for more. Look at the online maps and consider extending your route and trying more hills. The West Hills never disappoint.

Abandoned rail bridgeUniversity of Portland supports cyclingGnomes at playA bit wet on Old Germantown

7 Responses to “Find the Gnomes”

  1. Jim Labbe Says:

    A great stop along this route is Audubon Society of Portland’s Sanctuary, Nature Store, Wildlife Care Center, and Administrative offices at 5151 NW Cornell Rd. More info at:

  2. Jacob Says:

    I’ve stopped in before to take a peek (and fill my bottles). Definitely worth a look.

  3. HOWTO Videos on Gold Panning using TheGoldCone | The Gold Cone Says:

    […] to the Road,, specifically the ride some of us completed called the Find the Gnome Ride (on which we saw ZERO gnomes), they took the following pix.  Enjoy the GoldCone Gnome Team in […]

  4. Anthony Says:

    Just did this ride today, thanks for the clear instructions. Nice hills and great views. Traffic was a little sketchy at times, but at other times I was the only vehicle on the road.

  5. Rudy O Says:

    Excellent resource and spot on directions. Having not biked here in decades, can’t help think how things have changed–you don’t need to make detours up the wrong hill. Now you just bookmark this web site. Thanks for doing this one.

  6. Russ D Says:

    The gnomes are under the old train bridge.

    Great ride! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hill Climbing Weekend! | My First Century Says:

    […] some hills. Here is a google map of the route: I based it off of this route, and adapted it so I could leave from my […]

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