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  1. #1
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    Finding route from Salem to the coast

    My wife and I are planning a small (300 miles) loaded tour in Oregon this June. I have most of the route figured out from Eugene to Salem, and from Florence to Eugene, and the coast is easy to plan.

    The leg I'm not sure about is going from Salem (or a bit north of Salem) over to the coast. The obvious route is to take 22 and then 18, but I don't like riding with cars and it looked like that might be a bit busy. Are there good alternative routes that aren't too hard to follow? I was eying the Willamina Creek Road to Gilbert Creek Road etc. but was worried I might get lost.

    The only requirement is that I want to stay on paved roads. If there is a campground around there somewhere, that would be a plus.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    Yeah - that works. I rode that way last year for a quick two day loop from Salem.

    It's pretty clear which direction to ride as long as you turn left when you get out to the junction after about 6 miles on Willamina Ck Rd. Google Maps says it's SW Coast Creek Rd. It might be signed Gilbert Ck Rd as that's what you hit next and then eventually Bible Creek Rd. You'll pop out on Nestucca River Rd and eventually Hwy 101 at Beaver. There's three campgrounds on the Nestucca River Byway, but you'll only see the last one in the direction you're travelling. It has running water, but no flush toilets. Beaver has a convenience store inside the gas station with some dinner options like microwave burritos and such. If you turn north at Hwy 101, ride a couple of miles and turn on left Sand Ck Rd you could camp at Cape Lookout State Park, Whalen Island (my recommendation), or a little county campground hidden back behind the apartments across from the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City. The county campground in Pacific city has coin operated showers.

    You'll enjoy Willamina Ck Rd after the first or second mile where the mill is. (The road's a little narrow and rough in that section.) The climb up Gilbert Ck Rd is very steep in places. There was a noisy, aggressive lose dog (Pit Bull) at one of the houses near the top that came out into the road near me. I didn't have any issues except being annoyed and having my peace interrupted.

    I'd chose the route you mentioned over Hwy 22 on any nice weather day of the year. It's scenic and feels real remote. If you want to ride farther, the other option is to ride past McMinnville and hit the Nestucca River Byway from the west end. That'd probably add another day to your trip and you'd still have a very steep climb.

    I'd assume you're planning on using Hwy 36 past Triangle Lake to get from Florence. Hwy 126 is not pleasant. There's way too much traffic - especially semi trucks - and riding uphill in that tunnel is not fun. Hwy 36 is way better than 126. Even better still is the Smith River Byway near Reedsport just south of Florence.
    “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out”

  3. #3
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    I love that Nestucca River Road route, though I've only done it on motorcycles. If I had to stick to pavement I would go that way.
    Ed Miller
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  4. #4
    Senior Member skiph's Avatar
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    From Salem to the Coast

    Depending on how far north of Salem you are starting from, you could cross the Willamette River on the Wheatland ferry, and come out at Amity.

    From there, you could follow the Reach the Beach route:

    http://ridewithgps.com/trips/654636

    which has only about 5 miles of riding on Hwy 18 before getting off at Valley Junction.

    That’s a fairly low use road except maybe on some weekends when people are towing their dune buggies over to the dunes near Sand Lake.

    There’s a non-state campground a mile or 2 north of Pacific City (edit: Pacific City RV & Camping Resort), then for going south on 101, you could stay at the state campground in Lincoln City, or farther south at Beverly Beach north of Newport, or South Beach, just south of Newport. Pretty much always 'hiker/biker space' at those campgrounds.

    Farther south…just check out the Oregon State Parks site for campgrounds.
    Last edited by skiph; 04-09-13 at 06:51 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbud View Post

    I'd assume you're planning on using Hwy 36 past Triangle Lake to get from Florence. Hwy 126 is not pleasant. There's way too much traffic - especially semi trucks - and riding uphill in that tunnel is not fun. Hwy 36 is way better than 126. Even better still is the Smith River Byway near Reedsport just south of Florence.
    If you don't like traffic, then the Smith river is the way to travel between the coast and Eugene. Once you get ten miles in from the coast, you may not see another car for fifty miles or more. While the traffic on Hwy 36 isn't extraordinarily heavy, it does consist of a lot of people who are overdriving their vision and you will get some bike hate and extremely unsafe passes, especially once you are east of Deadwood. I just don't enjoy it at all and my wife won't ride on it with me, which takes it off my route list since we mostly ride a tandem.

    If you can tolerate a wee bit of gravel (firm stuff, easy to handle on 25 mm tires even loaded), and you are going to use hwy 36, you might consider leaving it at Swiss Home and taking Stage Coach Rd. Continue onto Richardson Upriver to the Wildcat Covered Bridge, cross under Hwy 126 and enjoy the next 55 miles into Eugene (26 miles after the covered bridge go left at the fork up Wolf Creek Rd). This would have you riding up most of the Siuslaw River. About eight miles of Stage Coach is gravel and another three miles of Richardson Upriver is gravel. Everything else is chip seal. I used to live on Stage Coach Rd and this was my commute into Eugene. It's great riding. Water is at Clay Creek Campground, sixteen miles from the covered bridge and at Whiteaker Creek campground, two miles from the covered bridge. Oh, yeah, you need to take the left fork at mp10, which is 10 miles past the covered bridge. If you take the right fork, you're going to go visit the Smith River. Same deal at mp 25.

  6. #6
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    Thanks much for these excellent suggestions. It looks like I can take the route I was eyeing. I really like the idea of taking the Wheatland ferry route to Amity, etc. over to Willamina. If I stay farther south and take the "Reach the Beach" route the rest of the way to the coast on 22, how is the traffic and road condition on 22?

    As for the coast back to Eugene, I was planning on using the Adventure Cycling map which follows 36 through Triangle Lake. The maps and info are great for that, but I like that Stage Coach Rd. variant.

    Again, thanks much for the info.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    Hwy 22 has a nice shoulder.

    I have a couple of suggested changes to the Reach the Beach route and included them on this link to Google Maps.

    When you get to the end of the Willamina/Sheridan Hwy, pass under 22 and link up with Yamhill River Rd. This will keep you off the double lane section of 22 which is real noisy. You can link back up at the overpass of 22 or ride all the way to the Fort Hill Lounge and Restaurant and walk you bike over a little gravel to get back to 22.

    Instead of turning on Hebo Rd right after the narrow bridge on 22, ride to Grand Ronde and turn on Grande Ronde Rd. The initial stretch of Hebo Rd is narrow with blind corners. It's also uphill. If you wait until Grand Ronde to hook up with Hebo Rd, you'll miss a little scenery, but it's safer with no climbing. (You could also hit the buffet at Spirit Mt)

    Hebo Rd can either be busy or empty. It depends on the day and the time. Lots of people use it to get to Tillamook. The Little Nestucca River Rd which you'll turn onto from Hebo Rd is very pleasant.
    Last edited by mtnbud; 04-11-13 at 07:03 PM.
    “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out”

  8. #8
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    It's been a while since I've done the Reach the Beach ride, but the roads were always pretty low traffic.
    Jeff Wills

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