Vancouver Lake and Frenchman’s Bar (or, riding after osprey:)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is an osprey:

Osprey(picture from Wikipedia)

They hang out and breed in Portland during the spring and summer, then head south come fall like I want to do sometimes. They’re pretty amazing birds with my favorite fish-grabbing dive ever, and as winter turns spring-like I make it a habit to bike down the Springwater Corridor every so often to see if any of them have returned to the nest by Oaks Bottom. As long as I can remember, there’s been a pair that nests there, and I always welcome their return.

A few days ago, I finally saw a bird on the nest and another close at hand — so today, hankering for a ride anyway, I decided to embark on an osprey-scoping mission to all (well, some) of the various other places I’ve seen these birds. It wasn’t really a planned-out ride, but it ended up something like this:

First up was a trip to Smith and Bybee wetlands, to see if the nest there had osprey on it (it did).

Smith and Bybee osprey(two osprey on a nest — though as far as I know, no one’s successfully raised baby osprey here for a few years)

Then, over the Columbia River to a whole new state! Heh. Okay, I know, Washington’s only about 10 miles from our house, not a big deal, but I still get excited about crossing state lines on a random bike ride. And crossing on the I-5 bridge is so much nicer than crossing at I-205.

I-5 bridge into Washington(You’re welcome, Oregon!:)

In Vancouver, I was excited to discover that the Vancouver Farmers Market is open on both Saturdays and Sundays, and was in full swing when I biked past. Best thing ever, to run into wholesome produce in the middle of a ride.

Vancouver Farmers Market(yay for farmers markets!)

I was feeling pretty good and in the mood to explore, so I kept going to Vancouver Lake, which I’ve only been to once before a bunch of years ago on my way home from a bike trip around Mt St Helens. Then, I was hot and tired and looking for water to jump into. Today, I was fresh and excited and looking to find new things.

It’s pretty darn awesome up there. If you’ve never ridden in that area, I’d totally recommend it — it’s fairly low traffic (at least, it was on this Easter afternoon), and it’s super beautiful. And it only gets better the further from Vancouver you go: not much out there but wetlands and a lovely bike path between Vancouver Lake and Frenchman’s Bar (a sweet park right on the Columbia River).

Frenchmans Bar Trail(part of the Frenchman’s Bar trail at Vancouver Lake)

The dead-end road that goes along Vancouver Lake is worth a ride, too. Even though it’s necessarily an out-and-back — which, as we know, I’m not really into — it’s peaceful and beautiful and full of birds (I wish I’d brought my binoculars!). And since it’s a dead-end, there’s not much traffic. The same goes for the road by Frenchman’s Bar. Apparently that also dead-ends, though since I didn’t know that I only followed it for a few miles — enough to see a pretty funky “marina” and the other side of the wetlands that you see from the Vancouver Lake Road, which today were full of sandhill cranes. (Have you ever heard a sandhill crane? One of my favorite noises ever:)


mustard on the columbia river slough(mustard brightening up the increasingly cloudy world on my way home:)

I turned around when I started getting into some rather stinky pastureland and made my way back to Vancouver and over the bridge to Portland. From there, I decided to go home via the Columbia River Slough, since I’d been sad to pass it over when I went by it in the morning. And then a fast ride back, racing the incoming clouds.

All told, this was an excellent exploratory ride, just a bit over 60 miles. For a trip that started with a desire to find osprey, it also turned into an excellent birding and nature ride, too, replete not only with osprey and sandhill cranes but also bald eagles, a cooper’s hawk, hordes of cackling geese (and really all sorts of awesome waterfowl), hummingbirds, towhees, flowers of all kinds… the kind of ride that makes me happy to be alive to the world and out amidst it all. Also, a good way to get the heck outside while I’m not running and minimizing my excessive walking:)

Do you need to see more osprey? (Can you ever see enough osprey?;) Curious about what Vancouver Lake or Frenchman’s Bar look like? Pictures from the whole ride here!  :)


  1. If you ever find yourself up in Northern Idaho or Eastern WA, Lake Couer d’Alene is an amazing place to see oodles of Osprey. It has the largest nesting population of osprey in the western US!

    It’s also a giant, amazing, GORGEOUS lake with a couple really great bike paths. The Trail of the Couer D’Alenes is 72 miles and the Route of the Hiawatha is 30 miles. More info here (their website could use an update…):

    Anyhow, it’s a neat part of the state – as is the area south of there in the Palouse (near Moscow, Lewiston, etc.). Gorgeous rolling hills of wheat, rivers, etc. Really cool. Lots of great VRBO houses near CDA, too. Sandpoint and Lake Pend Orielle are favorites, too. Only a couple hours from the Spokane airport.

    Couer D’Alene Osprey Webcams:

    Darn, now I want to go on vacation!

    • Oh my gosh. Ariel. I’m not sure about this, but I’m pretty sure that you just solved a very important piece of a top-secret fall biking excursion I’m hoping to take this year. PSYCHED!!

      Thanks for the link to those bike paths:)

      (And I’m pretty sure that’s a goose in that north osprey camera! Sneak attack! :)

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