Originally Posted by mtnbud
Thanks B. Carfree! I truly appreciate the intel!
A friend of mine was asking me about some possible routes for a trip we have planned the week of July 15th. I was looking at this as an option. I'm leaning towards either this route or using the Smith River Byway to Clay Creek or stealth camping somewhere near Alma. (He was suggesting Hwy 36 to Triangle Lake or Richardson Co. Park. I am hoping to steer him in a more interesting direction.)
I will ride this route some day - if not this summer, it's definitely in my list of routes to ride!
Sorry to hear about the illness. I hope your family is well soon!
If you head to Clay Creek, BLM is only opening Clay Creek, Whiteaker Creek and whatever that campground is south of Cottage Grove from Friday afternoons to Monday mornings this summer. I'm sure the water will be left on and no one will hassle you if you go there on weekdays. In fact, it might be nicer with the campgrounds closed.
A fun little connection between the Siuslaw watershed and the Smith River watershed is to take the M-Line from the top of Oxbow summit (top of south sister road, six miles west of Alma). It is mostly lost chip seal/ good gravel and connects up to real pavement at the junction of Esmonds Creek Rd/West Fork Smith River Rd/Roman Esmonds Tie Rd. I always surprise a bear or two when I ride along that ridge. Just stay on the main track. I think the Googlemap shows it as J-line and as not going through, but it is marked M-line at Oxbow Summit and definitely goes through. It's about eight miles long.
When it reaches pavement, you can turn right to head down Esmonds Creek; six miles later you will be at mile post 10 of Siuslaw River Rd. about halfway between Clay Creek and Whiteaker Creek campgrounds. Or, you can turn left and go down West Fork Smith River Rd (watch out for the nasty bike-eating pothole on the right side in the first quarter mile) and likely surprise more bear. W. Fork Smith River Rd ends at Smith River Rd about ten miles from Upper Smith River Rd (25 miles from Alma). If you want some more climbing, you can make an immediate right turn after you turn left on W. Fork Smith River Rd and head up to Roman Nose. There's a small stretch of medium/large-rock gravel on this, but it's on a fairly flat section and is only a couple hundred yards long at most. The climb up Roman Nose from M-line is about like the climb up to the M-line from Alma. At the top of Roman Nose, a right turn has you descending, eventually it gets quite steep, on pavement down to Whiteaker Creek Campground. A left turn puts you on some gravel towards Kentucky Falls and eventually either down to the Smith River or on some back roads towards Mapleton that I really need to explore.
I much prefer the type of routes you pick to what your friend seems to be suggesting. In fact, my wife got annoyed with me for agreeing to mark the route for the Blackberry bRamble last year because it meant we had to ride on hwy36. She wonders why anyone would ride on such a relatively unpleasant road when we have much better options available.
Have a fun trip.