At the end of the longest beach in the world (except for one in Bangladesh), the 28-miles of unbroken sand is finally broken at its southern end by a massive basalt outcrop called Cape Disappointment. The Coast Guard stationed there respond to an average of one distress call per day in this area known as the graveyard of the Pacific.
The observation lookout atop this bluff is the midpoint of a trail ride that begins and ends at sea level--from the Port of Ilwaco on the Columbia River to Beard's Hollow, a wetland that was formerly an inlet of the Pacific when Lewis and Clark ended their journey here. The ride up from Ilwaco is paved; down to Beard's hollow is hard-packed dirt. This section is the southern segment of the 8.5 mile Discovery Trail, not to be confused with the Olympic Discovery Trail on the northern coast of the Penninsula.
Last year we rode down the trail from Long Beach but were unable to ride up all of the hill to the observation point, so we pushed the trikes a short distance. We skipped the final paved section to Ilwaco. This year, with lower gears (18t chainring) and a knobby rear tire, I made the climb. Starting at the Ilwaco end, I began with a straight climb from town to wooden bridge that seems to wind on forever and then descend as I head for the top, knowing all that altitude had to be regained to reach the bluff. Actually, again and again. There were more steep ups and downs that I can remember, until finally I started the long uphill curve to the top. Well, almost the top. There is a very narrow dirt side trail to the observation area, which I rode on the return.
I used all four chainrings and most of the cassette on this roller coaster ride. If you like constant turns and using your gears in a beautiful forest setting, this is the trail of a lifetime for you. The first video covers just the ride up the paved trail from Ilwaco; the second down the dirt descent, the climb back up, detour to the bluff over the Pacific, and paved downhill descent back to the Port. For variety, you could add the rest of the Discovery Trail, the rolling slalom through the dune grass (last year) for a 17-mile round trip.
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