Distance: 37 miles one way
Elevation gain: 1950 ft (RWGPS)
This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).
You can ride from Siletz Bay to Newport along the coast, and it’s nice, but it is Hwy 101 (busy), so I prefer this inland route. It’s never high drama—it’s easy, mellow riding through lovely, unpopulated riparian woods and the road contour is utterly charming, constantly weaving and rising and dipping gracefully. It’s basically flat, a rarity in Bestrides. In addition to a lot of pretty woods, you get one very small village (Siletz), the outskirts of one mill town (Toledo), a flat ride along a classic Oregon coastal river, the pleasure of watching Newport, your final destination, grow on the horizon, and a final landing in Newport’s Old Wharf district.
(Having Mapmyride map problems at the moment.)
Begin in Kernville at the intersection of Hwy 101 and Hwy 229 at Siletz Bay. Ride Hwy 229 to Toledo, then Yaquina Bay Road to its end when it drops you at the old wharf district of Newport. The best part of the ride is the first 14 miles, from Hwy 101 to Siletz. The hamlet of Siletz is little more than a cafe, the Little Chief Restaurant, but it’s a friendly outpost. Siletz to Toledo is a slightly less magical ride—a bit straighter, a bit wider, a bit more open, a bit busier.
Toledo is a fairly large town, but you skirt almost all of it so traffic is not a problem. Navigation has two tricky spots. First, you need to find your way through one hectic intersection where Hwy 229 meets Hwy 20. Stay on 229 as it goes straight across the very large and busy 20, which crosses your path at a 45-degree angle. When 229 ends at a T in less than 1/10 mile, go L onto Business 20. It’s a good idea to look at Google Maps to see how this works. Second, 0.8 miles down Business 20 comes the R turn onto Yaquina Bay Road, which is easy to miss—the road is obvious enough, but I couldn’t find a sign, so watch your odometer.
From Toledo to Newport (Yaquina Bay Road) is new and fascinating terrain. You’re riding along a once-busy working river, with lumber mills, rotting landings, marshes, shore birds, and boats. As you leave Toledo on YBR, note the huge mill across the river over your L shoulder. In the final miles you can see Newport far in the distance, like Oz, as you wend your way along the river’s edge. Finally you arrive at the Old Wharf area, which is as charming/funky as Old Wharf areas tend to be, packed with marinas, fish markets, and good restaurants.
Shortening miles: There is no cut-off road by which to make a shorter loop out of the route. If you want a shorter day, you have a hard choice. My favorite legs of the ride are at the two ends, from Kernville to Siletz, and from Toledo to Newport. Either would make a good out-and-back.
Adding miles: You may have to, if you can’t find a shuttle. The obvious route back to your car is Hwy 101 along the coast, with several small towns and the usual grand coastal scenery.
Afterthoughts: I’m riding in the opposite direction of Moore’s ride log, if you’re using his book, but the ride works just as well in either direction. If you’re going to do the Hwy 101 leg, you might want to ride my route heading north so the return ride along the coast has you in the west lane, closer to the water, and any wind will be helping.