A buddy and I salvaged a trip we started earlier this summer when we were rained out. Our goal was to utilize lesser traveled paved Oregon roads within a couple hundred miles of our houses. The BLM backcountry byways and the Oregonmotorcyclist website greatly helped with planning.
We started by leaving a vehicle at a hotel in Cottage Grove after getting permission to park. Our goal for day 1 was Susan Creek CG (hot showers) which is on the Umpqua River before Steamboat, but after Glide. Heading past Cottage Grove Lake, we turned at London onto Shoestring Road. We saw a total of 3 cars on the entire length of the road. After a hearty 3 mile climb on good pavement, the descent included a couple sections of gravel, but good views compensated. The cut across to Elkhead is a 4 mile mix of gravel and pavement. The gravel sections are fairly buff and again very little traffic. The roads from Elkhead to Oakland are in great shape with light traffic. The 3 miles of Hwy 99 from Oakland to Sutherlin are narrow and busy. Sutherlin has all kinds of restaurants. The 5.5 mi of Hwy 99 from Sutherlin to Wilbur have a great shoulder, but lots of traffic. North Bank Road from Wilbur to Glide is hilly and open with a fair amount of traffic and good views of the lower north fork of the Umpqua River.
Day 2 left the Umpqua River just past Steamboat at Steamboat Creek Rd and ended somewhere in the mountains above Oakridge. There’s a nice little campground at the junction of Steamboat Cr and Canton Cr. After two miles on Canton Cr, there’s another campground with a hand pump for drinking water. Once we passed this campground, we left civilization behind. We saw 2 cars and three motorcycles for the entire length of Canton Cr and Martin Cr Rd. Canton Cr Rd has a good surface and climbs gradually until the last 8 miles. The last 5 miles were steep and were tiring. Martin Cr Rd quickly lost most of the elevation we worked so hard to gain, but the surface is rough and twisty. I was able to keep a light hand on the brakes, but my buddy had to stop twice to allow his front rim to cool from all of the braking. Sharps Creek Rd was a joy, excellent surface, little traffic, and good scenery along a nice little creek. After stopping at Dorena for food, we headed up Brice Creek to Oakridge. The route from Brice Creek to Oakridge is a true joy. Brice Creek is a crystal clear gem with numerous pools and falls. We found the pool at the trail bridge at Lund Park CG a particularly nice spot to swim. Others enjoy the pools near Cedar Cr CG. When were close to what must have been the headwaters of Brice Creek, a left turn began a climb that never appeared to end. We spent over 3 hrs in granny gear hoping to someday reach the top of this never ending climb. We were rewarded with absolutely no traffic, a great view, and a islolated camp where we felt like the only people in the universe.
Day 3 involved a descent into Oakridge and a climb up and over the Aufderheide, a well known byway from Oakridge to Blue River. The Aufderheide is a scenic treat following the crystal clear waters of the North Fork of the Willamette on one side and the South Fork of the McKenzie on the other. There are many opportunities for swimming in the river and we happened to find an ideal spot a short distance away from the road where a large basalt rock formed a large pool perfect for diving into the river. After filling our bottles with fresh cold water at the hand pump at Kiahanie CG 20 miles from Oakridge, we began wondering when the gradual ascent would steepen. At about mile 29, a steep pitch continues for 2 miles without mercy. The top at Box Canyon begins a wonderful descent of smooth pavement with wide sweeping corners. Due to the nature of the road, I only needed to use my brakes twice staying above 30 mph for most of the pitch and approaching 45 mph in a few places. The 26 mi to Hwy 126 was effortless joy and we camped near the dam after deciding to forgo a soak with the crowds at Cougar Hot Springs.
Day 4 involved utilizing the Eugene Bus system so we could get to the weekday lunch buffet at Track Town Pizza in Eugene around it’s 11 am opening. The Bar-B-Que Chicken Pizza tasted especially good after 3 days of riding and climbing. Thanks to the advice of Shifty, we used Dillard Rd to travel from Eugene and avoided Hwy 99 in favor of Sears Rd to end our trip back in Cottage Grove.
Along with the first half of this trip, I’ve got to say the route was fantastic. Looking for these out of the way lightly used roads really paid off. I want to thank everyone who helped me plan this trip both directly and indirectly by giving advice on routes, gear, and other issues.
Photos (in reverse order)