Length: 70 Miles
Direction: Counter Clockwise
Elevation Gain: 5172 ft
Highest Point: 4045 ft
Recommended Gearing: 39X25 or equivalent
Another gem from Rubber to the Road Vol II, there is no mistaking just what you’ll be doing on this ride by looking at the profile. Larch Madness really only has one blip on the radar. And it’s the biggest climb with the highest elevation in this series. Topping out at 4045 ft, it dwarfs its nearest competitor by about 2200 ft. However the climb itself is spectacular, as is the incredible view at the top.
Begin at Mt Tabor Park and take Burnside and Stark St out to Troutdale. Consider topping up your waterbottles here or at the store in Corbett. This will be your last chance before the climb begins. Once you do begin climbing, whether you find it helpful or hurtful, the mile markers begin to tick off starting at Mile 1. Signs indicate from the bottom that the road is 14 miles long. Perhaps for those traveling in a motorized conveyance, one can offer such information so haphazardly. In actuality, the top is at 14 ½ miles. Believe me, an extra ½ mile at the top is quite noticeable.
When you reach the top, consider a quick trip a little further up the path at the end of the parking lot to the view point. However, a self-registration day fee is required. At the lookout, you’ll have a remarkable 360 degree view of all of the major mountain peaks within a 100 miles. Informative plaques on the stone wall lay in front of each mountain you can see off in the distance.
Another piece of advice for this ride is to consider the long looming descent and your clothing selection. Even on a pleasant day, the weather at the top of Larch can be crisp. If you do visit the lookout, put your warm layers on early as you will cool down immediately. If you plan to simply head back down after reaching the top, put on your warm layers and leave quickly. Capitalize on the warmth you’ve built up from climbing and stay warm on the way down. The descent is gradual enough that you will need to pedal the entire way. So there’s plenty of time to eat and drink then.
Head back through Troutdale on Columbia River Highway and then cruise home on Marine Dr. Or head east instead on this historic highway and add on a trip to the Vista House or Multnomah Falls. You can turn this ride into a 10,000 foot elevation day if desired.
There are annual time trials to the top of Larch Mountain. If you enjoy this climb, give racing up it a shot…and remember to pace yourself.