Smith River route from Reedsport to Eugene
As part of a longer touring trip in Central Oregon, several bikeforum posters mentioned using the Smith River byway to get from the coast to Eugene. As I've been getting less and less enamored with the alternatives, I'm drawn to taking this route, but I have a couple of questions about it.
To start with, it seems it is about 90 miles or so, so that means (for my wife and I), we would want to camp at least once, and maybe twice along the way (we like to take our time on these tours). The Smith River Falls site looks to be a nice little camping place, although it doesn't appear to have drinking water (we can deal with that). And, it seems there is another primitive campground at Vincent Creek a bit farther down the Smith River road, so that takes care of one night.
So, how do I get from the Smith River road up to Eugene? From the maps, one route that appeals to me is to take W. Smith River Rd (BLM Road 27 1) as a way of getting up to Siuslaw River Road, heading east on Siuslaw River Road and then staying a second night at Clay Creek campground (which has drinking water).
The alternative seems to be to go farther down Smith River Road until it turns into South Sisters Road and then take that up to Siuslaw River Road. But I don't see any camping places along this way.
In both cases, it seems that taking Siuslaw River Road to Wolf Creek Road up to Crow and Eugene is the way to go.
Any advice from people who have ridden around there?
I have never biked this road but I have motorcycled it. It is paved all the way with some good sized potholes, so keep an eye out. The signage isnt so good either so a good map (think oregon Gazeteer) or GPS would be a good idea.
On FS/BLM land you can camp just about anywhere off the road. I always just look for a dead end spur with a creek for a nice quiet camping spot.
There isnt a lot of potable water, but there is a lot of clear creek water. If I were biking it I would juts bring a pump filter from REI and a couple camel backs.
I have always come up from Reedsort and yes you end up in Crow.
Not exactly what you were looking for but I hope that helps
Heading up W. Fork Smith River Rd. is a very nice choice. If you choose that, you have a couple of choices to make. At the top if the climb (13 miles up from Smith River Rd.) you will encounter M-Line Rd (likely labeled J-Line on Google) which is a decrepit chip seal/gravel/weed connector to Oxbow Summit (top of South Sister Rd). There's some very nice places to set up camp along the M-Line near either end. The only problem is that you will have to bring some water since, being along the ridge top, there's no creeks along it. Another option is at the bottom of Esmonds Rd, which is what you come down from the top of W. Fork Smith River Rd. Esmonds creek is right there to supply water (bring a filter). However, there will likely be more mosquitoes here than you really want. If you roll on the Clay Creek campground, be aware that the BLM is only opening it from Friday afternoons to Monday mornings this year. The water should still be on, but the porta-potties will likely be locked. I doubt if anyone will hassle you for using the campground when it is "closed".
There's no water from Clay Creek campground to Eugene unless you are willing to stop and ask at a house along the way (those start about fifteen miles from Clay Creek). There's a series of rolling hills to get to Alma, then a three mile climb up timberline after the turn onto Wolf Creek Rd. Particularly if you are not early risers, the sun will be on you during that climb. After a fun little descent, you have five miles of false flat/slight rise before descending to Crow. You should consider carrying more water than the mileage would indicate.
Also, don't wear yourselves out getting to Crow. Keep something in reserve for the last little push into town. I say this because if you come in on Crow Rd., the shoulder has many long wheel-eating cracks from mile post 4 (Pine Grove Rd) to mile post 2. You can either play dodge the crack on the weed-strewn shoulder or take the lane. Either option is best done when you are feeling strong. That is also the only place you will have any traffic at all, depending on the time of day.
If you choose to stay on Smith River Rd to South Sister Rd, there are lots of nice places to camp along the Smith River. Just before you reach South Sister Rd., there is a large area on your left side and later there are lots of nice, flat areas along South Sister Creek on your right side. There are also nice camping spots just off the road between the bottom of Oxbow summit and Alma. Also, you can turn up Upper Smith River Rd and find plentiful very nice camping sites. The next morning you can either return to South Sister Rd and go over Oxbow Summit or continue up Upper Smith River Rd to Elk Creek Rd and cross over to the Siuslaw by going up Elk Creek Rd and down Buck Creek Rd (same road, name change at top). I think it's something like 25 miles from Smith River Rd to Elk Creek Rd, another six miles from there to Siuslaw River Rd and then seven miles along Siuslaw River Rd to Wolf Creek Rd, which puts you about twelve miles from Crow. By the way, once again Google Maps shows Upper Smith River Rd as not going through, but it is a paved road that continues well past Elk Creek Rd from Smith River Rd. Also, you'll know you are only a few miles from Elk Creek when you pass the Gunter family cemetery along the right side of the road; just look for the flagpole.
I don't know how you feel about unpaved roads, but I would recommend going up W. Fork Smith River Rd and then crossing over to Oxbow Summit on M-Line (J-Line). Much of it was once chip seal that has fallen into disrepair and the remainder is reasonable gravel with a bit of plant life, depending on how many 4-wheel drives have ventured along it recently. At the end of the M-line, just head east down from Oxbow Summit and camp somewhere before Alma (junction with Siuslaw River Rd).
From Smith Falls to Wolf Creek Rd, you are in bear territory. Bring something to hang your food. Fortunately, our bears aren't overly interested in interacting with humans. This is likely the result of their deadly encounters with hunters.
I know this thread is kind of old, but in case anyone's still wondering, my partner and I just biked from Reedsport to Veneta for Oregon Country Fair and we had a great time. We started the day in Coos Bay actually and biked up 101 to Reedsport and then cut in. Just north of the main part of Reedsport we crossed a bridge and then turned right on "Lower Smith River Road" (those Lower/Upper variations...man...we went ten miles out of our way in the Poconos once due to mixing that up!). It was a BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL ride, very few hills in that first day, gently winding up the river. I forget exactly the mileage, but I think it was about 15 miles or so in, there was a cute local pub/grocery store where we got a printout of a cute little local map and you could probably get some water. They also hooked us up with some organic produce.
There is a lot of BLM land in that area, and about 2 miles before the official Smith River state park campsite (so about 24 or 26 miles in?), there are two BLM campsites off on the right side of the road that are really cute, right by a section of the river that's shallow and has lots of rocks so you could probably boil the water and be fine. There's even an outhouse. If you would rather be alongside car campers, the Smith River and Vincent (I think that is what it was called) campsites coming up are more crowded. :-p But also, we dropped by them in the morning to get some water refills from car campers who always bring a ton and have some to spare.
The second day, to Veneta, was about 55 miles, but Eugene would be farther. Shortly after the campsites the first hill starts up. But it's beautiful and shady and not so bad. Locals told us it was about a 2000-foot climb. When we got to the top of it is where you can get onto M-Line road, or you can continue on down the hill, which will eventually get you to an obvious intersection with a big wood map where you get onto Wolf Creek Rd. The second hill felt bigger than the first, but that could be because it was prime bad logging practices (clearcutting) territory, so there were a lot of depressing views and some "new forests" with really short trees that didn't block the sun, so it got HOT and unpleasant. Wolf Creek Rd got us to Territorial Rd and Crow, where we went left up to Veneta, but you can take Wolf Creek Rd all the way to Eugene. The road straight from Veneta to Eugene (I think it's 126) is definitely unpleasant to bike on - would not recommend!
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