Bike Ride Guide By Tom Baake
Oregon South Coast Bike Ride Guide

Road riders and mountain bikers can find opportunities in every corner of Oregon’s spectacular South Coast region. Potential rides range from fun and easy family outings to challenging Coast Range treks.

Main Street” of the Oregon coast is US 101, which passes through the middle of just about every town. US 101 is also the Oregon Coast Bike Route (OCBR) – with a few worthy detours. The first section of this book covers the OCBR from Florence to the California border just south of Brookings. Most cyclists ride the OCBR (or sections of it) from north to south in summer. There’s less rain, and a prevailing wind from the north provides a handy tailwind.

Major towns along the South Coast are about 25 miles apart, making it relatively easy to contemplate, plan and ride the OCBR. The OCBR’s aforementioned detours from US 101 add miles, hours and exertion to an already-challenging ride.

The book’s second section has treks for road riders and mountain bikers in each South Coast community. The rides are described as loops whenever possible. Also offered are a few excursions into the Coast Range, as well as some of the inland routes.

A word about the mountains: Generally speaking, the Coast Range rises abruptly from near sea level, so almost any trip quickly confronts ascents that may rise as much 1000 feet in as little as two miles. Once at higher elevations, roads and trails generally stick to ridgelines. Some bicyclists overcome the initial climb by motoring to the ridgelines and launching rides from there.

Now for a couple of common sense reminders. Whether you’re riding by yourself or with a group, be alert for motorists. Except for riders on the OCBR along US 101, bicyclists are NOT a common sight in this region. Even after all these years of bicycling’s growing popularity, motorists are simply not expecting to encounter bicycles.

You will, however, draw their ire if you don’t pull over when vehicles are stacked up behind you or unable to pass because of double yellow lines or blind curves. Your ride will be more enjoyable if you let them hurry by!

Mountain bikers using logging roads need to be careful. You can hear trucks and other vehicles coming, most of the time, and get out of the way. Bicyclists or motorists must remember these are “working forests.” You may encounter – as in, bearing down on you from behind or coming at you head-on – fully-loaded log trucks, gravel trucks, water trucks, road graders or other heavy equipment.

Experienced bicyclists know they need to carry adequate provisions and water (or water purification device), as well as a repair kit, on rides of just about any duration. This advice is especially true – and applies to riders of every skill level – for rides through the remote terrain discussed in this book.

In any and all cases, you must know and respect your skill level and of those in your group. If the route sounds daunting from the description, trust me: it is.

Some lonely roads are traveled in this book. There are details about road conditions and seasonal access, but you should always check with local sources about current conditions when traveling far afield. Weather-related closures and detours, budget crises and high forest fire danger can all affect access. Speaking of weather, average rainfall on the South Coast is 60 inches per year. It pours down – or blows in sideways – during awesome storms from fall to spring. Rivers and lakes and wetlands are swollen, trees are toppled, hillsides collapse, roads are closed, lowland areas flooded. A typical winter.

Yet it hardly rains a drop during July, August and September. We dry out and head to the other extreme – forest fire danger. Then there’s the wind. During most of the summer, you can count on a north wind kicking up nearly every afternoon along the coast. Also fog in the mornings and evenings. A typical summer.

Best time of year is early autumn, after the first rain or two. The wind has died down, the crowds have thinned out, and the light lies mellow across the land and seascape. You’ll hear locals say, “It’s never this nice in summer.”

In winter, too, come interludes of balmy weather. The southern Oregon coast is frequently the warmest place in the state in wintertime, and there are pleasant days of “false spring” that make you forget the weeks of dreary rainfall and gray skies.

Whatever the weather, there’s sure to be challenges, but that’s all part of the fun. So let’s ride!

Use beautiful Bandon as a jumping-off point for some nifty in-town rides as well as forays into the surrounding countryside. You can go from stunning ocean vistas to quiet back roads, even check out some cranberry bo
gs, all in one easy tour.

Beach Loop/Rosa Road Tour
Location:  Bandon.
Facilities/Etc.:  Full services in Bandon; restrooms at South Jetty, Face Rock and Bandon State Park on Beach Loop Drive.
Length:  About 11.5 miles, plus scenic area stops.
Elevations: Range from 80 ft. to 130 ft.
Rating:  Easy to moderate, with a couple of small hills.
Precautions:  Narrow roads with no shoulders. Be alert for traffic. Use caution along US 101.
Discussion:  This might be the perfect trek, since it takes you from bustling Old Town Bandon up to some of the most beautiful viewpoints on the Oregon coast and out in the countryside past colorful cranberry bogs. Part of the trip briefly goes along US 101 and Oregon Coast Bike Route. Best of all, it’s a loop!
Directions:  From the waterfront in Old Town Bandon, head west on 1st St. SW. At 0.3 mile is a junction. You can go west for an out-and-back ride to the South Jetty, adding a 0.6 mile roundtrip to this trek. Otherwise head up the hill on Edison St. and at the next intersection turn west on 4th St. SW, which becomes Ocean Drive, 7th St. SW and finally Beach Loop Drive. The road swings south. At 1.4 miles at the intersection with 11th SW you can go one block west to the first of several scenic viewpoints. Continuing on Beach Loop Rd., scenic overlooks can be found at Face Rock State Park (2 miles), and at Devil’s Kitchen (3.5 miles), and China Creek (4.2 miles). The road turns east, traverses a mighty dip and reaches US 101 at 5.2 miles.
Turn south on US 101 and at 6 miles turn east on Twomile Rd. Follow it to a “T” intersection with Rosa Rd. at 6.5 miles and turn north. The road wanders through the countryside, passing cranberry bogs and residences. At 10.6 miles at a “T” intersection with 11th St. turn west and follow it to US 101 at about 11 miles. Turn north to return to Old Town at 11.5 miles.
North Bank Lane
Location:  2 miles north of Bandon.
Facilities/Etc.:  Full services in Bandon and Coquille; vault toilet at Rocky Point County Park.
Length:  36 miles round trip.
Elevations:  25 ft. to 35 ft.
Rating:  Easy.
Precautions:  Be alert for traffic. Narrow road with no shoulders.
Discussion:  This quiet byway just north of Bandon follows the Coquille River for 18 miles through pasturelands and ranches before connecting with Highway 42 about 5 miles west of Coquille. Compared with busy Highway 42 S on the river’s south bank, North Bank Lane is sparsely traveled, but you should always be alert for vehicles.
Once at Highway 42, it is possible to make a loop with a return on Highway 42 S, but it’s a dangerous road and even local riders don’t advise the trip except perhaps in early morning on weekends. Best to make an out-and-back trek on North Bank Lane.
Directions:  From 1st St. SE on the waterfront in Old Town Bandon, go east to Fillmore Ave. SE and turn north. It soon becomes Riverside Drive. The shoreline is part of Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, with an overlook along the way. After about 1.5 miles the road meets US 101. Turn north and cross Coquille River Bridge. Just past the bridge, turn east on North Bank Lane. Here, too, the river’s edge is Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, with another interpretive overlook en route. Rocky Point County Park is just over 1 mile and offers a nice stop, with picnic tables and vault toilet. There are some briefs rises and dips along the road, but otherwise it’s mellow. A couple of deadend side roads along the route offer potential scenic detours. Once at Highway 42 (or anytime, actually) turn around and retrace your route to Bandon.
(Bonus ride:  Add a visit to Bullards Beach State Park, just north of North Bank Lane. Ride the paved road out and back to beaches and the historic Coquille River Lighthouse for a 6-mile roundtrip from US 101.)

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Oregon South Coast
Bike Ride

By Tom Baake
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