Category Archives: Oregon

Siletz Bay to Newport Inland

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.

Hwy 229 north of Selitz: miles and miles of this

Hwy 229 north of Siletz: miles and miles of this

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.

Yaquina River Road

Yaquina River Road

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.

Three Capes Ride

Distance:  38 miles one way
Elevation gain: 2900 ft 

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

The Oregon coast is a legendary destination for touring cyclists, and it’s certainly leaps and bounds better than California’s coast—fewer cars, kinder motorists, far more towns for R and R and refueling, and only slightly less spectacular scenery.  But I’m not nuts about it.  Notice I only have two rides that explore it, and the other (Gold Beach Century) does it as much out of necessity as out of choice.  Perhaps it’s because I did my north coastal riding on the July 4th holiday, and the place was a zoo.  This is the best ride on the Oregon coast and is well worth doing, in large part because here Hwy 101 goes inland and the coastal riding is on smaller secondary roads.  The rewards keep on coming—four charming coastal towns, grand bays, miles of deserted beaches, grand ocean vistas, and one easy but delightful hike.

A word of warning:  the maps and the elevation profiles below are accurate as far as they go, but they fail to cover the entire ride—see below for an explanation.

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Vernonia to Astoria

Distance:  66 miles one way
Elevation gain: 3440 ft 

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

For the first 63 miles, this is not a dramatic ride.  It is instead a perfectly pleasant, easy meander through nearly-flat, charming farm country—little wilderness here, few deep, solitary woods.  It’s on a numbered state highway, which is usually a no-no for Bestrides, but it’s a remarkably untrafficked one.  I did this ride on a sort of recovery day, and I found it to be magically mellow.  Rarely have I been so glad to be on a bike.  After 63 miles, the road begins to roll, then enters the city of Astoria, and finally ascends steeply to a dramatic finale at the very summit of the city, the Astoria Column and its stunning vistas of the surrounding land and water.

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Sweet Creek Road

Distance:  22 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1730 ft 

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

This is one of the few rides in Bestrides that isn’t primarily about the riding.  Oh, the riding is fine—pleasant miles along a pretty river followed by a sweet climb through a pretty forest.  But the jewel in the crown is Sweet Creek Trail and its many waterfalls.  So bring walking shoes.

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Lolo Pass Back Road

Distance:  12.3 miles one way
Elevation gain: 2500 ft 

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

East Lolo Pass Road is a chestnut Oregon ride, a twelve-mile out-and-back climb up a wide, clear-cut valley dominated by a huge rack of power lines.  I don’t like it.  But the back road that parallels it, FR 1828, is sublime—8.5 miles of the densest, most magical woods I found in Oregon (but not giant conifers—see photos).  And one grand glimpse of Mt. Hood.  It has a lot of vertical gain—I recorded 3860 ft, over three times the climbing benchmark of 100 ft/mile, and RidewithGPS says you’ll touch 17%—so you will work.

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Dead Indian Loop

Distance:  46-mile loop
Elevation gain:  5010 ft 

(A Best of the Best ride)

This is one of the Oregon rides that is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

This ride is an approximate square.  Each of the 4 sides is a different kind of riding.  Three sides are great, and the fourth is a very pleasant warm-up.   The four sides are 1) 7 miles of gentle shoulder riding through pleasant farmland, 2) 7 miles of uninterrupted climbing up a dramatic canyon, 3) a rambling, rolling saunter through rich forests, past meadows, and along lake shores, and finally 4) a breath-taking, supersonic 14-mile descent.  You also get two resorts, one charming inn, one pretty lake, one semi-pretty lake, the likelihood of eagles, and (with a slight detour) a natural spring with awesome water (yes, water can be awesome).  Dead Indian Road is actually only about a third of the ride, but it’s a much more energetic name than “Highway 66,” which is our other choice, so let’s go with that.

This may be the only ride in Bestrides where you have a choice between two routes, both excellent in different ways.  There are two ways down from the summit, Dead Indian Road and Hwy 66 (the way you came up).  It’s a question of what sort of descending you like.  DIR is essentially straight, with you sitting on the bike and doing nothing at 40+ mph.  66 is constant smooth, effortless serpentining at 25-30 mph.  I’ve mapped it to show you the long route, but I encourage you to ride it both ways.

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Old Siskiyou Highway

Distance:  24 miles out and back
Elevation gain:  3323 ft 

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

This is a not-hard, not-easy climb and luscious descent through canopied woods and along open hillsides with grand vistas, all on an old highway that sees almost no traffic.  This is extreme Southern Oregon, so you won’t get the ferns and mossy maples of the Oregon rain forest, but the forest is still very pretty.  I love this ride, in both directions.  A perfect life would start every morning with it.   And you’re riding a stretch of old Hwy 99, which when I was a boy was the only route north through the Northern California valley and into Oregon, so there’s an added element of nostalgia if you’re a native of a certain age.

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Galice to Golden

Distance:  61 miles out and back
Elevation gain:  c. 3000 ft (see below)

This is one of the Oregon rides that is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

This ride passes through three very different ecosystems, all rewarding.  The first stretch, from Indian Mary County Park to the Rogue River bridge, is through the Rogue River Canyon, which by the end leaves you clinging to the face of a steep rocky canyon wall.  Very dramatic, very nice.  Lower Graves Creek Rd/Wolf Creek Road, the second leg, is up and down and back and forth, narrower, tighter, through riparian woods and almost car-free.   The third leg takes you on a classic “family” ride through sun-lit forests to the interesting ghost town of Golden.

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Eagle’s Rest Road

Distance: 29-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 3160 ft

(5/17 note: My Oregon friends tell me that this route is not what it once was.  It has undergone major logging activity and serious damage to the road surface from winter storms and other things, and as a result has lost a lot of its appeal.  At the moment I can’t promise Bestrides-quality conditions.  See Jackie’s comment below, and my response.  JR.)

This ride comes from Oregonian FOB (Friend of Bestrides) Don—thanks, man.

This route has a specific sort of appeal.  It’s as isolated a ride as you can find on a road bike.   You’ll ride for 20 miles without seeing any sign of human presence other than two signs that say (I believe) “Rough road ahead”—no houses, no fences, no “No Trespassing” signs, no directional signs, no cars, no nothing.  That 20 miles is through the most pristine, virginal forest I’ve ever seen.  Twice in the 20 miles, you’ll be able to see further than 50 yards—it’s that thick.

It would be one of the greatest bike rides I’ve ever done, except for one thing: the road surface is a pretty nasty chipseal for almost the entire loop.

And there are dangers inherent in the isolation: you are out there on your own.  If you have a mechanical you can’t fix on the road, no one is coming along to help you, so you may be looking at a 13-mile hike out of there, in cycling shoes.  Take plenty of food and water (there is none on the route), let someone know where you’re going, and ride with a buddy if possible.   And the complete lack of directional signage means you get no confirmation that you’re where you think you are—you have to trust to your route map and to my assurance that, with one exception, you just keep riding straight down the one and only road.

If none of that dissuades you, you’ll have the time of your life. But note the warning about logging activity in Jackie’s comment below, and my response.

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Hood River to The Dalles

Distance: 41-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 3820 ft

This ride is expertly covered in Jim Moore’s 75 Classic Rides Oregon (see the “Oregon” section in Rides by Region).

This is a varied, largely open ride with grand vistas of the Columbia River Gorge, a sweet stretch of old highway closed to cars, a jaw-dropping descent through a comically extreme set of switch-backs, and one strong dose of good old back-country climbing.    It’s about the landscape—I don’t find the road contour or the two communities you pass through (Mosier and the Dalles) terribly compelling.  The route is easier to follow than it sounds—as they say in “Willow,” “Ignore the bird, follow the river!”—unless you miss the turn onto Chenowith Loop W., you really can’t get lost.   Continue reading