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Old 10-13-09, 12:08 PM   #1
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Need route help in SW Oregon

To help me get through the fast approaching (3" of snow here yesterday!) Wisconsin winter I'm starting early to plan a tour along the Oregon coast for next July. For ease of transporting my bike I plan to take Amtrak to Portland and the only close return point in southern OR is Klamath Falls.

I'm looking for help if picking a route from the coast near the CA border to Klamath Falls. Dipping into CA to catch Hwy 199 to Grants Pass looks interesting but I don't know the condition regarding a shoulder and how bike friendly it is. The same questions hold true for Hwy 66 from Ashland to Klamath Falls.

Roads are pretty scarce in this area and other than I5 I don't see a good way to get from Grants Pass to Medford or Ashland.

If anyone is experienced in that area of the state I would appreciate whatever you can share. I did a northern chunk of the coast a little over 20 years ago so I'm familiar with Hwy 101 as far as Newport but if it isn't as bike friendly in the southern part I would consider moving inland sooner and perhaps go through Crater Lake on the way to Klamath Falls. Tips for that option would be welcome also.

It appears campgrounds are plentiful so I don't think that will be an issue. I plan on a loaded tour with 45 to 60 miles per day on average.
Thanks!
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Old 10-13-09, 12:24 PM   #2
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There are plenty of highways between Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland. From Grants Pass to Medford, HWY 99 is your best bet, or HWY 238 through Jacksonville. This is going to be the most scenic route. Another route, HWY 99 to HWY 66 is going to be the fastest and easiest, but not very scenic.

All of these highways are mapped in Google Street View, a feature of Google Maps, so that you can see what they actually look like. None of the routes are going to have a wide shoulder, a bike lane, or anything like that. You're talking about one of the poorest areas in Oregon here. Heck, Josephine county was so poor that for the while they were the only county in the USA that didn't have a library - because they couldn't afford to keep it open.

Also, Cycle Oregon did a ride for 2009 through that part of the state as well; might be worth checking out.
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Old 10-13-09, 01:15 PM   #3
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Here's the Oregon 2008 Traffic Flow Map -
It might help you decide based on traffic levels.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TDATA/...p_GIS_2008.pdf

The stretch of US 101 south of Cape Blanco is one of the nicest rides out there.
But getting inland is - as you say - a tough choice.
US 199 from Crescent City is pretty busy with so-so shoulders.
People bike it all the time.

Plus there is the tunnel.
Long, narrow, no shoulders. Moderate+ traffic.
Does have flashing lights.
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Old 10-13-09, 05:37 PM   #4
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I would consider moving inland sooner and perhaps go through Crater Lake on the way to Klamath Falls. Tips for that option would be welcome also.

Thanks!

First, I would highly recommend getting the "Oregon Bicycling Guide," published by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEP...ng_Information

I did this route up to Crate Lake:

Hwy 38
Hwy 138 S (Elkton Sutherlin)
Hwy 99 S
North Bank Road (small road, have to keep an eye out for it.)
138 SE
Crater Lake Hwy (can be closed in Winter)
62
Weed Rd
7 Mile Rd/ Hwy 1349/West Side Rd.
Hwy 140 into Klamath Falls (only road that is not so great. Lots of traffic and no shoulder for many parts.)


I went South until Reedsport, where I turned inland on Hwy 38. It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. The roads were excellent, little traffic, and amazing scenery.

I would highly recommend it though. To me, the coast gets sort of monotonous after a while. The break from traffic, etc. was very welcomed.

Last edited by fantom1; 10-14-09 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 10-13-09, 06:00 PM   #5
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are you wanting to just cruise straight to klamath falls or take the time to enjoy the roads in between? others have covered the best routes to the jacksonville area (either of which is an enjoyable ride). going the rest of the way to klamath there are a couple good options. highway 140 has a new surface most of the way and has a wide shoulder. highway 66 is a lot steeper and if i remember is narrower for part of the way. dead indian is quite a ride and it can connect to either 140 or 66. if you have other questions i live area and could answer any.
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Old 10-13-09, 08:56 PM   #6
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are you wanting to just cruise straight to klamath falls or take the time to enjoy the roads in between?
I'm thinking it will be about a 3 day ride from the coast but I'd rather get off the busy roads and enjoy the sights even if it adds some time. I'll have to check on the flexibility of Amtrak but I think they have some options where you aren't locked into a specific date. I'm sure I'll be in contact again fiatjeepdriver as the time gets closer and plans get firmer - thanks for the offer. I may be going with 1 or 2 others so that will factor in also.

fantom1 - I'm on a waitlist for the OR bicycling guide since it is currently out of stock. Your route to Crater Lake sounds good. Was the best part closer to the coast or Crater Lake? It is a tough choice between that and finishing the coast. I wish someone who has done both could give me their opinion on what they liked better. jamawani mentioned the last stretch of the coast is very nice.

Hopefully I can work in extra time so I can do the coast and loop northeast from Eagle Point and go to Crater Lake before Klamath F. Is anyone familiar with that route along 62 and would it be best take the east side of Upper Klamath Lake on 97 or the west on 62? and 140?
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Old 10-14-09, 10:17 AM   #7
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Badger Biker:
Roads are pretty scarce in this area and other than I5 I don't see a good way to get from Grants Pass to Medford or Ashland.

There is an excellent route from Grants Pass to Medford/Ashland through the beautiful Applegate Valley. From Downtown Grants Pass, cross the Rogue River and follow signs to highway 238. Follow 238, at mile 6 or so you'll come to Murphy, just before a little bridge turn left on Old Applegate Rd, follow this to it's end where you turn left on 238 which takes you into Jacksonville and Medford. This is a very low traffic and beautiful ride, many wineries, farms and along the Applegate River. This route is about 50 miles.

I agree, if you have the time and want to climb the hills, the trip to Crater Lake is a nice way to end your tour. Have fun!

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Old 10-14-09, 12:09 PM   #8
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at mile 6 or so you'll come to Murphy, just before a little bridge turn left on Old Applegate Rd, follow this to it's end where you turn left on 238
Shifty - I see North Applegate Rd on the map - same as Old? Sounds like a nice route - thanks for the tip.
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Old 10-14-09, 01:26 PM   #9
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fantom1 - I'm on a waitlist for the OR bicycling guide since it is currently out of stock. Your route to Crater Lake sounds good. Was the best part closer to the coast or Crater Lake? It is a tough choice between that and finishing the coast. I wish someone who has done both could give me their opinion on what they liked better. jamawani mentioned the last stretch of the coast is very nice.
They were both equally nice, but different. Nearer to the coast you're riding right along a river and it has a very New England like feel to it. After you leave the river it is a lot of rolling countryside/forrest with tons of wildlife (deer, turkey, etc.). Closer to the mountains, it feels, well, more like the mountainous Pac NW. And of course Crater Lake is breathtaking.

FWIW, I grew up along the coast in California, and all I really wanted to see was the dramatic cliffs in the Northern part of the state. Just riding along the coast is nothing out of the ordinary for me, so maybe that's why I enjoyed the much more ruralness (not a word, I know ), empty roads, and changing scenery of the route I took.

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Old 10-14-09, 02:17 PM   #10
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Klamath Lake is really beautiful, but US 97 has a lot of traffic and the shoulder is somewhat narrow in the section that is cut into the hillside. If you are heading south, you would not have to deal with the jersey barrier that is there for slides.

The West Side Road has light traffic, but goes thru the woods and has no views of the lake. There are a few short sections of lake view on Hwy 140. US 97 is the most direct. The West Side Road is pretty direct.

And there's a third option coming into Klamath Falls from the north - not very direct, but nice.

If you take Hwy 62 southeast from the park, you can cut over to Chiloquin just before reaching US 97. Then take Sprague River Road to Sprague River. It's a lovely, quiet ride along the river. Then take Bliss Road over the divide to Dairy and then take Hwy 140 towards Klamath Falls. You can hop on the OC&E Trail in Sprague River, Dairy, or Olene. It's hardpack from Sprague River to Olene - paved from Olene into Klamath Falls.

http://www.oregonstateparks.org/imag..._woodsline.pdf

I love the Sprague River Valley. Very peaceful, mixed forests and prairies since it is on the dry side of the Cascades. Couple of little towns with tiny stores.

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Old 10-14-09, 04:34 PM   #11
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Shifty - I see North Applegate Rd on the map - same as Old? Sounds like a nice route - thanks for the tip.
Yes, that's the one, a bit nicer than staying on 238, less traffic, not that there is much on 238. I did this ride a few weeks ago, loved it. A stop in Jacksonville is nice.
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Old 10-15-09, 09:19 AM   #12
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You can hop on the OC&E Trail in Sprague River, Dairy, or Olene. It's hardpack from Sprague River to Olene - paved from Olene into Klamath Falls.
jamawani - thanks - the Sprague river area sounds like a great option and I think I may try and work it in. Do you know the unpaved trail conditions on the OC&E very well? I'm just wondering if it will be a problem with a loaded touring bike. I have 700 x 35 tires on my touring bike but it is a road bike and not mountain. Is the surface smooth enough for that and is it apt to get muddy if I hit rain?
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