Upcoming Road Trip Through Oregon - Is This A Good Itinerary?
The wife and I will be loading the bikes onto the camper and heading out of Flagstaff on September 11th, headed to her sisters place on the San Juan Islands. We will be spending most of the vacation in Oregon and want to get in some epic rides. I thought I'd lay out our itinerary and see what the people who ride full time in Oregon think? If we have missed any great rides, let us know and we can try to add it to the list.
Sept. 14 Arrive in Roseburg, set up camp. Looking for free primitive camp spot. We don't require any hook-ups or toilet. Rig has 520 watts of solar panels and 45 gallons of fresh water.
Sept. 15 Ride North Umpqua River Trail. We would like to ride from east to west, covering half the length of the trail. Will be looking for a shuttle to drop us off at the eastern-most point. Any ideas who to contact?
Sept. 16 Ride western sections of the North Umpqua River Trail. Depending on where we set up camp, we may ride from camp or we may call for a shuttle drop. Post ride we plan to move camp to some free forest campground near Oakridge.
Sept. 17 We have time for one ride in Oakridge. We are looking for suggestions. 25-30 miles of trail. Maybe something we can do in a loop, otherwise we'll need to call an outfitter for a drop.
Sept. 18 Drive to Waldo Lake and ride the trail that circles the lake. It will be my third time doing this ride and it will be my wifes first trip to Waldo Lake. Are we required to purchase a pass to park or ride the trail? After the ride we will travel to Bend, where both of us have relatives.
Sept. 19 We hope to join some friends for a ride in Bend. I last visited Bend last October and did four sensational rides. If wife wants a rest day, I could be up for a longer ride of 30+ miles, followed by a seriously large buritto or plate of ribs.
Sept. 20 McKenzie River Trail. I've enjoyed the ride once before. I expect the wife to have a great time. We will join some friends and do the shuttle drop and ride it one way (downhill).
Sept. 21 We will head north to camp at Olympic National Park.
Sept. 22 Take the ferry to the San Juan Islands.
Sept. 23 Ride the trails on Orcas Island, at Moran State Park. They open them up to mountain bikers on Sept. 15th, for a month or so before restricting them to just hikers.
Sept. 24 Wife will stay at sisters before flying home on Sept. 25th. I will drive south, back to Oregon, to get in more riding. I don't have to be back in Flagstaff until the second week of October.
Sept. 25 Maybe ride near Hood River? Open to suggestion.
Sept. 26 Head back to Bend for more riding.
Sept. 27 Ride near Bend.
Sept. 28 Maybe head back to Oakridge to do another ride or two.
Sept. 29 More Oakridge riding?
Sept. 30 Maybe return to Roseburg to ride North Umpqua River Trail again.
Oct. 1-4 Leave Oregon and travel south into California. Have friends in Sacramento and will likely ride in the foothills for a few days, when not pounding down sushi or dining at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
Oct. 5 Head east, maybe crossing Nevada to ride in Park City Utah.
Oct. 7 Work my way south towards Brian Head or Red Canyon. If it's too cold for that, stop in Hurricane and ride the Jem Trail loop.
Oct. 8 Head for the barn. Have a day of rest in Flagstaff before heading out for fall riding.
We would like to hear about your favorite rides in Oregon that we might include, if we can squeeze them in. We also could use information on places to park a 27 foot fifth wheel, preferably some simple and free, primitive camp site on Forest Service land.
Looking forward to riding the best trails in the west.
The Prodigal Son
Lost in the Trees
If it were me, I would spend more time in Oakridge and less on the NUT. For your 25-30 mile ride in Oakridge, get dropped at Timpanogas Lake and ride down the Middle Fork Trail. To Butcherknife is 28 miles I think and to Sand Prairie is 32+. For shuttles see http://www.oregon-adventures.com/.
Good choice on Waldo Lake. My favorite ride. There is also great riding up in the Timpanogas/Summit Lake area.
We head back to Tucson in mid November. The riding here in Sept/Oct is terrific.
Eugene, OR - Tucson, AZ
Check out the high elevation stuff outside Bend if you haven't done it before; all the trails from Happy Valley to Bachelor should be pretty nice.
Oakridge - can probably get dropped/picked up a shuttle for this one also but check MT Merc and get the big forest service style map. Tire Mt > Winberry divide to a really long gravel climb then Alpine trail down to covered bridge. Added option of more gravel climbing to more really good single track (may still be maps on cascade cream puff website). Kissing the trails book is pretty helpful for picking rides also.
Hood - If you can find a shuttle (or don't mind the 1 - 2 hour paved road climb) you can cover a lot of very good XC riding in the area by starting at the top of the pass on Rte 35 and more or less paralleling the road to Dog River or Surveyors ridge (it's a big ride). There is a shop called Dog River Cycles (I think) that can probably give you some info if there is a shuttle possibility, also in Kissing the Trails.
Looking forward to our first crack at Waldo Lake this fall!
Go that way really fast......if anything gets in your way turn.
Sounds like an awesome time.
Just some suggestions.
Spend at least a day or 2 in and around Hood River. The trails off of FR44 like Dog River, 15 Mile, Knebel Springs, 8 mile etc are a must.
Since you'll be coming south through SW Washington I'd highly suggest a stop at Mt St Helens. Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham and the Lewis River Trails are classic PNW rides. I'm not a big fan but a lot of people like Falls Creek.
And you'll be driving past it while in the Olympics, The Skokomish River Trail is a classic PNW River Trail, very similar to the Lewis River Trail.
Capitol Forest near Olympia Washington is classic, but more in a back woods kinda way. If you're driving though and need to ride it's a must.
For me personaly, I'd limit the time in Bend. I hate the town but the trails are very nice.
Also, let us know when you're driving back through. I'm sure somebody could show you around.
I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.
Little known ride near Roseburg. With 8 mile downhill
If you want some spectacular scenery, mountain meadows that look like the Colorado Rockies, and some awesome views, consider riding from Lake in The Woods to Hemlock Lake.(up Little River Rd. from Glide) and Yellow Jacket Glade.
I used to live in Roseburg and worked at Waldrons Outdoor Sports, and have ridden everything around that area. If it were me, I would do one day on the North Umpqua Trail, and I would do the ride from Lemola Lake(Dread and Terror) as far down as you can in a day. Dread and Terror and on down through Deer Leap and maybe down through the Jesse Wright section to Marsters bridge would take you through all the best scenery. 30 miles aprox.
But one of the most beautiful rides that never gets ridden is up at Lake in the Woods. Go to Glide. Turn up Little River Rd, it is at Colliding Rivers. Drive about 16 miles to the end of the pavement, and keep going. A few miles on dirt takes you to Lake in the Woods. It is a nice little lake with a small campground. Turn right into it, it is a loop around the lake.
There are 3 trails from here. One, across from the entrance goes out a mile to a waterfall. Another goes from the campground downhill to another waterfall. The main trail goes from the left end of the lake as you turn in. It goes uphill for 4 miles to Hemlock Lake, taking you past another waterfall, and beautiful mountain creeks. It crosses across dirt roads twice on the way but is easy to follow. At the top you enter a meadow, and the trail forks. Go left toward Hemlock Lake(only 1/4 mile) At the campground follow to the right and you will see a nice trail map sign right there showing Yellow Jacket Glade. You will go around the lake a ways to the right, and then hit a fork, take it to the right, and climb. You will go up over the Umpqua Divide. You will eventually get an 8 mile downhill through the most beautiful mountain meadows you have seen!! Absolutely stunning!! It will come back down to the fork that you hit earlier at the meadow, and on down past the waterfall back to Lake in the Woods. About 16 miles total. Lots of climbing, lots of downhill. Awesome ride!!
A side trip is Flat Rock trail. About a mile from the fork near Hemlock Lake is a trail forking off to the left. It is easy to miss while coming down. If you hit some tight switchbacks, you just passed it. It climbs up to a viewpoint. Last 100 yards is hike-a-bike. Stunning view of Hemlock Lake, and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood to the North, and Mt. Shasta to the South.
I may see you up there, I am taking 3 weeks off and me and my girlfriend are going to Zion/Gooseberry, to Oregon, and Moab and back to Arizona from Aug 29-Sept 20. Have fun!!
Originally Posted by twowheelsdown2002
Sounds really cool. Have you ridden it this season? Is it clear? How about bugs right now?
"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult."
I have not ridden it for several years, as I moved to Tucson, Arizona.
Originally Posted by Kook91
But usually late in the summer is the best, because the heat has killed off the mosquitoes, and also the Forest Service has had a chance to clear out any downs.
So if anyone knows about the trail condition, I would like to know too since I will be up there in a few weeks.
Living Ghetto Fabulous!
On your way back to Cali, stop for a spin in Ashland...
Originally Posted by kidwoo
This is all exceptionally helpful information. I feel like we will need an extra week in order to get in all the rides being mentioned. I discussed our departure date with the wife last night and I've decided to leave several days early, maybe Sept. 8th. My wife still has to work until afternoon on Friday, the 11th. I'll already be in Oregon riding when she drives to her sisters in Boulder City on Friday. She will fly up and meet me on Sunday and we can begin riding together at that time. That should give me 2-3 additional ride days. I just need to decide whether to drive to Hood River or Oakridge. I want to save Waldo Lake and McKenzie for the both of us to ride. Depending on the route I take north, I could stop in Ashland to begin my riding. The Lake In The Woods ride sounds short enough to easily squeeze in and I'll try to monitor other threads on this forum to see if the North Umpqua River Trail still has closed sections at the time we'll be in Roseburg. Even though we both have family in Bend, most people, even friends here in Flagstaff, are saying it will be too dusty there and to keep Bend rides to a minimum. I'm also trying to find a way to squeeze in more rides in Washington, that OldHouseMan mentioned. Plus I still need to study maps and find undeveloped campgrounds or some simple spots to park the camper in the woods near these riding locations. Don't want to make a mistake that might require backing a fifth wheel camper down a forest road because I failed to realize there would not be any place to get turned around. It was so much easier when we had a pop-up camper.
Thanks to all here for their suggestions. I'll continue monitoring the messages and writing down ride locations. I've already suggested to my wife that we make this an annual trip. We love riding in Flagstaff but it is so much more exciting discovering new trails in our favorite state to visit.
Dusty down low on Phil's triangle (where out-of-towners always seem to congregate) but in September the trail conditions are typically exceptional higher up (where locals go).
Originally Posted by The Prodigal Son
surveyors ridge near mt. hood
stop in ashland on your way home, get ahold of wes, and shuttle timewarp.
"if you can't be good, be good at it."
Lake in the Woods.
I think you will find that this is not as short as the 16 miles suggests. I have typically done a short out and back to the waterfall across the street from the Lake in the Woods parking lot for a nice 2 mile warm up, because otherwise, you jump right into a rather hard climb with cold legs.
This adds a little time especially if you take a few pics of the waterfall. Also, the climb up to Hemlock Lake is fairly steep, and has some waterfalls and scenic stops as well. The meadows coming down are a must stop photo opportunity as well.
If you ride up to Flat Rock viewpoint, expect to add on an extra hour. It is a very steep climb in places with a touch of hike-a-bike, but the vista is spectacular!! You will want to chill out at the top, and take it in.
Just with the regular loop, it can easily be a 3 hour ride. Add in the other side trips, and you can fill the day up pretty easily. Both Lake in the Woods and Hemlock Lake have campgrounds, and on the way up Little River are more. Or you can find places on the logging roads all around to make your own camp. If you don't mind the "booney squat".
Sept is really nice to do Northfork (think waterfalls) to Metolius to Flagline to Southfork. Bit of climbing in the beginning but beautiful and well worth it. It's 20-25 miles. You'd want to drive to Skyliner Snow Park and ride from there.
I checked out Hemlock Creek and Yellow Jacket Loop today. Absolutely no mosquitoes. I was a little worried when I forgot my repellent.
It is totally clear. Just a little smoke from the fire to screw up the views.
And some pictures.
Last edited by mwpeterson; 08-16-2009 at 09:14 PM.
Originally Posted by The Prodigal Son
NM, I had my dates wrong :-)
Last edited by FSRguy; 08-17-2009 at 12:00 PM.
Originally Posted by mwpeterson
God, I love the deep woods trails of OR!
Thanks for the pictures, I am really excited to get back to my old stomping grounds during some nice weather.
Originally Posted by mwpeterson
I've ridden that trail probably 30 times, and I don't have a single picture, other than the ones in my head. Luckily, I have a pornographic, er... I mean photographic memory.
One of the reasons I am choosing to go to Oregon in September is for the lack of mosquitoes, and it usually is not raining yet, so it is good to hear that the mosquitoes are gone. Hopefully the fire smoke is gone by the time we get there around the 4th.
I'd agree on more Oak, less NUT.
And another vote for Surveyor's Ridge or one of the other trails off FR44 between Mt. Hood and Hood River.
Also, I'd strongly discourage riding McKenzie on a weekend if you have the option to do it on a weekday. For that matter, since you're hitting both states, given the choice between the two I'd take Lewis River (which is quite similar) over McKenzie -- by a slight margin on a weekday, or by a large margin on a weekend. And Plains of Abraham on Mt. St. Helens is (along with Waldo) one of the must-do rides in the Northwest.
OldHouseMan mentioned Falls Creek -- I personally really like the downhill ride but the shuttle is long enough to make it worth skipping.
I will also put in plugs for local favorites Siouxon Creek in SW Washington and the Historic Hiking Trail loop (also known as Browns Camp) in TIllamook Forest 45 minutes west of Portland. To me these are both classic rides.
Based on this thread it looks like I'm going to have to check out Lake of the Woods. Rode past one of the THs on my road bike a few years ago and wondered about it, but now I have to do it.
"People like GloyBoy are deaf. They are partisan, intellectually lazy & usually very angry." -Jaybo
I'm also from Tucson and will be in the area after Labor Day for a week. NUT is on my list as I've ridden MRT twice and thought it was great. Everyone sais NUT is better.
Twowheelsdown your Lake of the Woods ride sounds killer and hope I can join. Have you ridden Little Creek Mesa, south of Gooseberry?
I did enjoy Falls Creek, WA, too. Not tech but lush and wet. Big wild strawberry patch.
Just to avoid any confusion, the rides we have been talking about are near Lake in the Woods & Hemlock Lake. Lake of the Woods is on the highway from Medford to Klamath Falls.
Good point!!! Very easy to confuse those, especially while doing an internet search!! There is not a lot of info about Lake in the Woods, or Hemlock lake on the net. Your pictures were really good, and really makes me anxious to do that ride again.
Originally Posted by mwpeterson
I have also seen a lot of elk up there, and one time I saw one of the biggest bucks ever, standing right in front of a big dead snag in a meadow. He was magnificent, but made me hungry for some backstrap!! Yum.....
I have not ridden Little Creek Mesa. I lived in Cedar City for 6 months back in 1998, and I remember looking over at that area and wondering if there might be a "sister" to Gooseberry over there, and I wanted to try to explore it.
Originally Posted by abegold
Sounds like we will be in Oregon at the same time. We are stopping at Gooseberry Mesa/Zion for a couple days to bike and hike both, and should be up in Oregon about the 4th until the14th or 15th, and then are making our way to Moab for a couple days.
I can't wait!! 3 weeks off work, and mountain bike destinations galore!!
The secret to Falls Creek is an out and back...do not forget McClellan Meadows.Gee...it's only fourteen miles one way.Two vehicles are not required.If you have never ridden Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham/Smith Creek it is a must.There is no ride in the U.S. that compares to it.Guaranteed one of a kind experience on two wheels.The trails off of HWY 35 and Road 44 (Dog River/Gunsight Ridge/Lookout Mtn./15 mile/Knebal Springs/Surveyors Ridge -Oakridge) are worth the effort.It's simple to link several together and cruise for 40 to 60 miles with great views and smokin' descents.Enjoy...how could you not.Do not skip the "Triple Crown" while you are at Waldo.The Twins,Mt. Fuji, and Maiden Peak!
Originally Posted by GlowBoy
Master of Laundry...Lord of Cleaning!
thanks - working on new itinerary
So many great suggestions for rides that I am working out a new list and planning on leaving several days earlier and having the wife fly up to Oregon to meet me (because she only has two weeks of vacation time).
Leaving on Sept. 8th now. Trying to figure out how to ride the following;
- North Umpqua (2 days)
- Lake in The Woods to Hemlock Lake
- Oakridge (2-4 days)
- Waldo Lake (The Twins,Mt. Fuji, and Maiden Peak)
- Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham/Smith Creek and the Lewis River Trails (2 days)
- Moran State Park on Orcas Island
- Hood River Trails, Surveyors Ridge plus one other (2 days)
- McKenzie River (not on the weekend)
I'm thinking of riding NUT and Lake in the Woods with my buddy from Bend before my wife arrives to join the trip. Take her to Waldo Lake and McKenzie River and one of the rides near Mt. St. Helens before we travel to Orcas Island to stay with her sister. Then on the way back south (solo) I can ride Lewis River and head to Hood and maybe meet a friend there, and then swing into Bend for a ride. Finish up in Oakridge before heading to Sacramento to visit friends. I'm also trying to convince a sister who is coming to visit, that she and her husband should fly into Salt Lake City, where I can pick them up and take them through southern Utah on the way home to Flagstaff. That might give me a day of riding near Park City as well as Reds Canyon near Bryce.
Now to look at some campground links to find out where to park the camper along the way.