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Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway or Oregon Coast?

Old 08-20-17, 04:56 PM
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Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway or Oregon Coast?

For next years tour, I would like to work it around taking the Zeyphr back home across country. I might be presenting various options over the next several weeks. I will probably create separate threads to keep things simple and hopefully the threads will be useful to others. So please bear with me.

At the top of my list is going from Portland to Eugene. I need to decide to take the coast or take the Willmate Valley Scenic Bikeway or the coast. I have already ridden the coast from Lincoln City to Eureka, CA

I am opting for the bikeway. It is only 122 miles to Eugene so I would augment my tour with a short ride on the Columbia River Gorge and a stop off in Klamath Falls to see Crater Lake. Plan to take the Starlight from Eugene to Klamath Falls then on into Sacramento on the Starlight.

So first, the choice between coast and bikeway which would you choose if you have already done the coast?

I would also like to hear comments on the bikeway as I pretty much know that the coast is awesome and well worth the ride. Plus for the bikeway for me is it will be the least stressful since it may be the first longer distance tour alone.

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Old 08-20-17, 05:47 PM
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I haven't ridden a lot of the coast route. But, HWY 101 gets A LOT OF TRAFFIC. But, gets some nice views.

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway goes through typical American farmlands. So, perhaps not the same spectacular views as the coast ride. But, the roads are generally much less congested making for a pleasant ride. Often one can get a good wind blowing southward.

One doesn't have to stay on the official route. For example, I often ride north through Marcola, then hit the route in Brownsville, but also sometimes cut off a few turns here and there.

Length of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway is about 130 miles from Champoeg to Armitage. I usually ride door to door, and my rides typically are around 180 miles if I'm mostly on the route, from West Portland to just east of Springfield. I hit just over 190 miles by adding an extra loop through the bike paths in Eugene, then a little looping in Portland to round it off to an even 200 miles for one ride

I've ridden to Crater Lake from Eugene. I think it took me about a day and a half to get there. More or less following the reverse of the planned Cycle Oregon route this year, going from Eugene to Cottage Grove to Dorena/Culp Creek to Steamboat to Diamond Lake and to Crater Lake. There was a pretty good climb between Culp Creek and Steamboat. Not as high as going to Crater Lake, but more intense. The Umpqua Highway is moderately busy, but generally has good road shoulders.

My rides tend to be long rides on the road, so one day for the 150 to 180 or so ride from Eugene to Portland, or Portland to Eugene (mostly flat for a lot of good miles). As I mentioned, I had planned to ride to Crater Lake in a day, but it ended up only being 130 miles or so the first day, and I got to the lake the second day. The climb up there was pretty unrelenting, even if only steep in a few places.

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Old 08-20-17, 05:54 PM
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My opinion: I would do the bikeway.

I haven't ridden much of the bikeway other than short stretches near Champeog State Park. I have stayed at Champeog half a dozen times and also ridden from Portland to Eugene half a dozen times. Somehow I ended up on the main roads instead of the bikeway.

The way I look at it, your distance going via the coast is likely double or more than a more direct route. You'll spend a good portion of the time riding first to the coast and then back again. While the coast is scenic, you've also seen this before. The ride to and from the coast is nice but not particularly spectacular.

I have also ridden out to Multnomah Falls on the old route as well as further up the gorge. This is a worthwhile additional ride.
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Old 08-20-17, 05:59 PM
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Oh, also if you do ride between Florence and Eugene, I would avoid HWY 126. Look up the "Tour de Lane" for an alternative route between Florence and Eugene.

I'm not sure about a route between Portland and Astoria. But, the "Reach the Beach" ride will ride from Portland to Amity to Lincoln City, and should publish a route.

Hood to Coast is a relay run that should have a good route going to Astoria that I would assume one could also bicycle.
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Old 08-20-17, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
My opinion: I would do the bikeway.

I haven't ridden much of the bikeway other than short stretches near Champeog State Park. I have stayed at Champeog half a dozen times and also ridden from Portland to Eugene half a dozen times. Somehow I ended up on the main roads instead of the bikeway.

The way I look at it, your distance going via the coast is likely double or more than a more direct route. You'll spend a good portion of the time riding first to the coast and then back again. While the coast is scenic, you've also seen this before. The ride to and from the coast is nice but not particularly spectacular.

I have also ridden out to Multnomah Falls on the old route as well as further up the gorge. This is a worthwhile additional ride.

Thanks. I do plan on a day ride of the gorge. I regret not doing this on my first visit to Portland. I was planning on a turn around at Dodson. Good turn around point?

Anyone know if I can incorporate mass transit in the plan? Or is there a shuttle? It would be nice to at least have the option.
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Old 08-20-17, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Oh, also if you do ride between Florence and Eugene, I would avoid HWY 126. Look up the "Tour de Lane" for an alternative route between Florence and Eugene.

I'm not sure about a route between Portland and Astoria. But, the "Reach the Beach" ride will ride from Portland to Amity to Lincoln City, and should publish a route.

Hood to Coast is a relay run that should have a good route going to Astoria that I would assume one could also bicycle.

Thanks. If I do the coast I will likely retrace my tour to Lincoln City via Mcminville. That was a really beautiful ride in a lot of spots. Plus I can stop and see the Spruce Goose that I did not know was there when I was passing through and my host failed to mention.
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Old 08-20-17, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Thanks. If I do the coast I will likely retrace my tour to Lincoln City via Mcminville. That was a really beautiful ride in a lot of spots. Plus I can stop and see the Spruce Goose that I did not know was there when I was passing through and my host failed to mention.
Oh... I keep missing that too, although I've looked at it through the windows. It is BIG.

I think they also have a SR-71 Blackbird

BTW: the Goose isn't made out of Spruce.

You could probably make a route to go through McMinnville, and still continue south in the Willamette Valley. HWY 99 goes through McMinnville, although perhaps there would be some secondary roads you could pick up and keep off the main roads.

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway passes the Wheatland Ferry and Buena Vista Ferry (they seem to be closed a lot, look up their schedules), but might take you from west of the Willamette to east of the Willamette.
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Old 08-20-17, 06:26 PM
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I haven't done mass transit up the gorge. I think the better bike route does some climbing going out of Troutdale, then drops down to Multnomah Falls. Or, at least one route.

Check out Horsetail Falls, about a mile or two east of Multnomah Falls (including the trail, not just the part visible from the road). There is actually a trail between the two.
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Old 08-20-17, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
I haven't done mass transit up the gorge. I think the better bike route does some climbing going out of Troutdale, then drops down to Multnomah Falls. Or, at least one route.

Check out Horsetail Falls, about a mile or two east of Multnomah Falls (including the trail, not just the part visible from the road). There is actually a trail between the two.

Looks like there is a shuttle.

Columbia Gorge Express

Are you suggesting taking the trail instead of the road? Is it doable by bicycle? Is it a better way to go?
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Old 08-20-17, 08:27 PM
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Need to remember to go through Boring and take the prerequisite photo.
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Old 08-20-17, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Looks like there is a shuttle.

Columbia Gorge Express

Are you suggesting taking the trail instead of the road? Is it doable by bicycle? Is it a better way to go?
I was meaning a day hike. Especially the 1/4 mile hike from the lower Horsetail falls to the upper Horsetail falls.

I'm not sure about the bike regulations. There are far too many people at Multnomah falls to ride a bike, and I would presume the trails around that area should be closed to bikes, even with fewer people further up the gorge.

The road below Multnomah falls has relatively low traffic.... so many people stay on the freeways. There is also a bike path along parts of the gorge.
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Old 08-20-17, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Need to remember to go through Boring and take the prerequisite photo.
Hmmm...
Does one also need to ride to Dull Scotland and Bland Australia?
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Old 08-20-17, 10:34 PM
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My wife and I have ridden the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway several times as part of our route from PDX to our home. It will give a good overview of the valley. You will have to work your way south from Portland to Champoeg State Park, and it will get you from there to Eugene. You can ride directly from Portland to McMinnville, and then angle southwest to pick up the WVSB route in Salem.

We did a "3 ferry ride" about 2 months ago, and the Wheatland, Canby, and Buena Vista Ferries were all in operation.


If you want to do the Pacific Coast you can take the Amtrak bus from The Portland Amtrak station to Astoria.

Having ridden the valley and the coast multiple times, I'd pick the coast, especially if the weather in the valley is hot. However, being realistic, we will probably do both routes again sometime in the future.

The Old Columbia River Highway is definitely worth the effort!


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Old 08-25-17, 07:49 PM
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I think I pretty much have decided on the Williamette Valley. I think this might be the least stress for me right now.

Is June or even late May a good time to go? What about weather? Rain? It would be nice to have some clear days(if that is possible in Oregon ) to get a clear view of the mountains while riding through the valley. Concerns would be the heat as Doug pointed out above.
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Old 08-25-17, 08:01 PM
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And that about side trips? Already on the list is:

1. Columbia River Gorge. Just a day trip up to Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls. Is that enough to get a good taste of the falls?

2. Crater Lake. Another good reason for June is I understand the north entrance and much of the rim is closed off to cars till plowing is complete. I would think this would minimize cars. I will likely arrive from the south on the shuttle.

Mcminville for the air museum was mentioned. But I have made that ride and it is not real pleasant. I don't know if it is worth a visit to the museum.

Any other ideas for side trips?
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Old 08-25-17, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64

We did a "3 ferry ride" about 2 months ago, and the Wheatland, Canby, and Buena Vista Ferries were all in operation.


Were the ferries side trips? They seem to be off of the bikeway.
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Old 08-25-17, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64

We did a "3 ferry ride" about 2 months ago, and the Wheatland, Canby, and Buena Vista Ferries were all in operation.



And you had 3 ferries. How did you get back on the right side of the river with 3?
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Old 08-25-17, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
For next years tour, I would like to work it around taking the Zeyphr back home across country. I might be presenting various options over the next several weeks. I will probably create separate threads to keep things simple and hopefully the threads will be useful to others. So please bear with me.

At the top of my list is going from Portland to Eugene. I need to decide to take the coast or take the Willmate Valley Scenic Bikeway or the coast. I have already ridden the coast from Lincoln City to Eureka, CA

I am opting for the bikeway. It is only 122 miles to Eugene so I would augment my tour with a short ride on the Columbia River Gorge and a stop off in Klamath Falls to see Crater Lake. Plan to take the Starlight from Eugene to Klamath Falls then on into Sacramento on the Starlight.

So first, the choice between coast and bikeway which would you choose if you have already done the coast?

I would also like to hear comments on the bikeway as I pretty much know that the coast is awesome and well worth the ride. Plus for the bikeway for me is it will be the least stressful since it may be the first longer distance tour alone.
We've done the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway 3 times and the coast twice. I'd recommend the bikeway. It's not as scenic but it's much more pleasant. Less traffic. Quiet country roads. The route officially starts in Newberg at Champoeg but there's an alternate which starts in Portland making the route longer. We started at our condo when we lived in Beaverton and ended around 200 miles for the trip. We always detoured into Corvallis and took a few other side trips. Ty wrote a few reviews on the trip. Maybe he can link them and provide some insight.

@Ty0604

Edit: Your comment about the weather; We always do the trip in September. May or June is a crapshoot. Summer usually starts here in July and rain isn't uncommon in May and June. If it's not raining then it's hot. The last few summers have been warner than normal. We've found that September is milder with less chances of rain. Hasn't rained on us yet.

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Old 08-25-17, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeliciousBabe

Edit: Your comment about the weather; We always do the trip in September. May or June is a crapshoot. Summer usually starts here in July and rain isn't uncommon in May and June. If it's not raining then it's hot. The last few summers have been warner than normal. We've found that September is milder with less chances of rain. Hasn't rained on us yet.

If summer doesn't start till July, wouldn't it be hotter in July??? My problem with September is daylight hours for the train trip back home
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Old 08-25-17, 09:44 PM
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Finally found this

https://www.go-oregon.com/Willamette-Valley/Weather/#


Looks like July is the winner. Unless Oregon Go is lying to tourists.
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Old 08-25-17, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
And that about side trips? Already on the list is:

1. Columbia River Gorge. Just a day trip up to Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls. Is that enough to get a good taste of the falls?

2. Crater Lake. Another good reason for June is I understand the north entrance and much of the rim is closed off to cars till plowing is complete. I would think this would minimize cars. I will likely arrive from the south on the shuttle.

Mcminville for the air museum was mentioned. But I have made that ride and it is not real pleasant. I don't know if it is worth a visit to the museum.

Any other ideas for side trips?
The Gorge is beautiful - I'd continue past Multnumah Falls a ways, but you don't need to ride all the way to Hood River.

Crater Lake is also - Coming from K-falls to Crater Lake, I'd recommend coming around the west side of Klamath Lake through Rocky Point. Hwy 97 around Klamath Lake is narrow and busy. The west side past once you get past Rocky Point is virtually unused. The complete road around the rim of CL may not be open yet, but the road the the rim coming from the south will get you to the rim to see the lake.

Century Drive - a ways north of CL is very scenic. McKenzie Pass also.

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Old 08-25-17, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
If summer doesn't start till July, wouldn't it be hotter in July??? My problem with September is daylight hours for the train trip back home
Yes. Hotter in July. Still hot in other months. But hot is relative. It hits 80 in Portland and the news has nonstop heat wave coverage on. First snowflake and it's nonstop blizzard coverage

Why does it matter about daylight time on the train? Sightseeing?
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Old 08-25-17, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeliciousBabe

Why does it matter about daylight time on the train? Sightseeing?

Ummm Yeah. The whole reason for riding on the train.
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Old 08-25-17, 10:06 PM
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Other question is lodging and places to eat. Not seeing a whole lot of lodging in the smaller towns like Canby, Jefferson etc.

But I assume I will have plenty of places where I can grab lunch along the way?
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Old 08-26-17, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Other question is lodging and places to eat. Not seeing a whole lot of lodging in the smaller towns like Canby, Jefferson etc.

But I assume I will have plenty of places where I can grab lunch along the way?
I don't think you will have any problems with places for lunches or lodging along the WVSB.

Crater Lake can be a challenge early in the summer. Especially the hill from the south entrance up to the rim. We have an annual tradition of skiing on the 4th of July at Crater Lake NP. This was on a 4th of July weekend.

My wife and I spent over 20 years as backcountry ski patrollers at the Park. It is one of our favorite places.

All on a 4th of July weekend







The end of the snow plowing.

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