Horseshoe Lake, Oregon

I am an absolute sucker for Highway 224 out of Clackamas, OR. I could ride it back and forth for days on end. It's the gateway to the Mt. Hood National Forest and its endless backroads. This particular trip I'd realized I was riding around on a new set of Metzlers that hadn't been put through their paces on dirt yet.

Mostly I just wanted to go get lost.

Nearly any National Forest road off of 224 is going to yield some awesome dualsport riding. This particular trip I split off on NF-45 and road it to its end. It's a quick and fast climb with some epic vantage points and hillside traverses. The only downside being the higher up I got the sketchier the locals seemed to be. Figures, you get far away from people only to find folks who also want to be far away from people, or SHOULD be anyway...

Signs that the road is about to end:

After finding the end of NF45 I dropped back down onto 224 and headed south in search of more dirt. The road gets pretty awesome for a while and as with most good riding conditions I can hardly be bothered to stop and take photos... So behold! A straight stretch!

Actually the tall trees growing right up to the roadside as you near Mt Jefferson make for some impressive scenery in their own respect. I call this particular section "The Colonnade". It's an imperial march of evergreens paying homage to the motorcycle. Or maybe the blacktop is the scar of man through the wild...

Since the latter is more likely true I was back to dirt in short order. 

One of my close friends in Portland absolutely loves Olallie Lake and since I'd never been it was the most logical spot to cut off the asphalt and get dusty. The lake itself is a nice little getaway with views of Mt Jefferson and good canoeing. There's even a "resort" up there. More of a lodge, really, but the small cabins are rent-able and cozy.

I kept going with the hopes of following the road up alongside Mt. Jefferson and hopefully dropping down into the backside of Breitenbush Hotsprings (my map ended at Mt. Jefferson so I didn't know if it completed the loop). Not too far past Olallie lake I was stopped by the Forest Service told the road ahead was closed due to a fast moving fire. In fact Breitenbush had been evacuated and the campground surrounding us was soon to be as well. HOWEVER I learned two things:

1. Yes, the road DOES loop back around into the hot springs, and apparently the riding gets really good the higher up the side of Mt Jefferson you get.

2. No they wouldn't let me through despite my bike, but they would let me take a dip in this here lake!

Horseshoe Lake is likely not as heavily trafficked with Olallie not too far away, and the road gets notably more technical. Something that typically keeps the casual campers away. Though I have no doubt it's a madhouse on 4th of July Weekend.  At any rate the water is damn fine, even with a forest fire raging not far in the distance (no, those aren't clouds in the photo).

And somehow on my way back through I realized I completely missed seeing this catastrophe blocking out the sky when I'd stopped to take a photo earlier. Clearly the boaters are not deterred. 

I had really hoped to have made a decent loop on dirt out of some part of this trip, but being thwarted by the fire I dropped back onto 224 and headed up onto Highway 26 to grab a burger in Government Camp with throngs of city folk who'd driven straight out to Mt. Hood from Portland. I've picked up  couple new maps and hear about a few other swimming holes since the ride and think I'll be more prepared the next trip out.


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