Any time you can get out on two wheels to explore Oregon’s outdoors is a good time, but it’s even easier now. Over the past few years, the popularity of electric biking — with bikes that look traditional but include an electric motor to help boost your pedaling power — has soared. They’re a great way to increase your endurance for longer trips or to help tackle hilly terrain. Oregon now has many e-bike rental companies and bike-share programs, so get out and explore the state’s top destinations on two wheels.
Urban Routes in Portland
Portland has long ranked among the top bike-friendly cities in the U.S., and for good reason: It has 385 miles of bikeways that cross bridges, hug the waterfront and head into the hills. The city even has maps of routes in every part of town to aid your adventures.
With more than 1,500 e-bikes at more than 220 stations, BIKETOWN is one of the easiest ways to explore the city on an e-bike. For other needs, check out their adaptive rentals, which include not only e-bikes but also hand-pedaled trikes, surreys and other options. Before arriving, you’ll need to download the BIKETOWN app and create an account. Choose a route from the library of itineraries. One excellent way to start is at the South Waterfront. Pedal toward Tilikum Crossing, Portland’s newest bridge connecting to the Central Eastside, and continue along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, where you might spot dragonboaters and great blue herons.
If you want to know more about the city’s bridges or breweries, Pedal Bike Tours has the guided tour for you. The Intro to Portland e-bike tour, a leisurely 9-mile excursion that stops at many must-see central city sites, is great for newbies to e-bikes or to Portland itself.
Waterfalls and Trail Rides in the Columbia River Gorge
The waterfall and hiking paradise of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is one of the best places in Oregon for car-free adventures, thanks to a robust public transit system and plenty of e-bike rental and tour companies. Just minutes east of Portland in Cascade Locks, you can rent an e-bike (and soon recreational bikes) at a new shop called Bike the Gorge. Cruise along waterfalls, stop at swimming holes, enjoy car-free paths, ride across the Bridge of the Gods and enjoy downtown shops and eateries.
Or you could go further east and base your trip in Hood River, with its charming downtown, farm-to-table restaurants, and miles of hiking and biking trails. From here you can easily explore many of the small towns throughout the Columbia River Gorge without a car.
In downtown Hood River, Oregon E-Bikes is the place to go for rentals. For a meandering ride through the countryside, spend a day exploring the Historic Columbia River Highway and the nearby town of Mosier. From downtown, pedal to the trailhead for the Mark O. Hatfield West Trail, and bike along the paved route with sweeping views of the Columbia River and two tunnels. Stop at Randonnée Roasters for an espresso. When in season, you’ll find U-pick organic cherries and wine tasting at Idiot’s Grace. Pedal on to Analemma Wines for a tasting and curated food plate (reservations required, open weekends only). For more ideas, check out the East Gorge Food Trail.
E-bikes are welcome on Hood River County nonmotorized and motorized trails, which include the well-known Post Canyon trail system on the west edge of town. Oregon E-Bikes not only rents e-mountain bikes but also helps plan routes through this maze of single-track maintained by Hood River Area Trail Stewards. You don’t want to go farther than your battery charge will take you, and cell coverage in Post Canyon is unreliable. Oregon E-bikes also hosts a weekly women’s e-mountain bike ride, where group leaders show you around Post Canyon and other local trails.
For a guided e-bike tour of the area’s award-winning wineries, leave the planning to mountNbarrel, which offers five-hour wine-tasting e-bike tours. All mountNbarrel tours include several wine tastings and a catered lunch, plus round-trip shuttle service from any local hotel.
To more fully immerse yourself in the area’s culinary scene, sign up for Sol Rides’ Hood River Valley e-bike tour. Depending on the time of year, tours stop for lavender lemonade or fruit at roadside produce stands.
If you’re coming from Portland and want to see some of the Gorge’s famed falls this summer, consider renting an e-bike from Ebike Multnomah Falls in Corbett, just seven miles from Multnomah Falls. They offer half-day and full-day self-guided trips to see seven cascades. Parking is included, and you won’t need a timed-entry permit for Multnomah Falls as you would with a car.
Pedaling Along the River or Hitting the Gravel in Bend
Located along the Deschutes River less than an hour from Mt. Bachelor and dozens of other natural playgrounds, outdoor enthusiasts fall in love with Bend. Options include miles of wildlife and bird-watching along the Deschutes River Trail, picnicking at Drake Park or watching the sunset from atop Pilot Butte.
Before arriving, download a handy, color-coded digital map of Bend that highlights paved bike paths, streets with bike lanes and recommended bike routes through this relatively flat city. Bend has several options for e-bike rentals: Let It Ride, Bend Electric Bikes or Hutch’s Bicycles all offer single and tandem options.
Looking to get more exercise? With its scenic vistas and wide open spaces, Bend and Central Oregon offer some of the best gravel routes in the state, many of which are logged on DirtyFreeHub.org. The In Plain View route is an e-bike friendly loop that’s close to town but has a remote feel and on a clear day offers views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson and Black Butte. Note: While mountain bikers love Bend for its singletrack, all of the local trails are located on U.S. Forest Service land, which is off-limits to e-bikes.
Start your day with a breakfast sandwich from Great Harvest Bread Co. before heading to the Deschutes River Trail and Old Mill District. This paved 6-mile path with no road crossings goes by shops and parks, including Bend Whitewater Park, where you can watch tubers float by and kayakers playing in the surf wave. Pair your route with the Bend Ale Trail map to select a post-ride pint from nearly two dozen breweries in the area.
Let It Ride E-bike Tours offers three 1.5- to 2-hour tours that will give you a taste of Bend’s scenic and culinary offerings. The Taste of Bend tour can be tailored to your tastes, and includes stops at some of Bend’s breweries and pubs, kombucha taprooms, or wineries.
Birding and Bridges in Eugene
Home to the University of Oregon, Eugene is a bike-friendly city with paths in every direction. The city’s bike-share program offers e-bike rentals, or you can rent an e-bike from one of many local shops, including Eugene Electric Bicycles. From town, hop onto the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path system, which follows the Willamette River through open spaces and parks over five pedestrian/bicycle bridges. In the distance, you’ll spot Spencer Butte, the highest point in the surrounding valley.
Bird and wildlife lovers will enjoy the 7-mile paved Fern Ridge Path, which winds through the West Eugene Wetlands, home to many species of waterfowl. Bring a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon here, especially if you like disc golf. Their 18-hole course is the first in the nation built on Bureau of Land Management-managed land.
If You Go:
- Be prepared for any kind of weather and always carry water.
- Kids under the age of 16 are not legally allowed to ride an e-bike but can be passengers.
- Riding an e-bike on sidewalks in Oregon is illegal.
- In Oregon anybody who is riding on a bicycle and who is under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet.
- Be gracious with pedestrians; they have the right of way. Use your bell to warn others when passing and be kind to walkers you encounter.
- The U.S. Forest Service does not allow e-bikes on the trails they manage in Oregon. E-biking is permitted on some county and private forest land. Always check with local bike shops before heading out.
- Mountain e-bikers must yield to hikers, horses and uphill traffic, and always be mindful not to ride when the trails are wet.