Beachside State Park
It had been very hot in the valley, and my weather app even showed 90 in Newport on Friday. Time to head to the beach. I had been waiting for the right opportunity to ride the mostly gravel route to the coast and this was it. The Mountain Trucker still had its mtb tires so it was ready to go.
I left Friday night after work. Got to Woods Creek Road after sunset. Rode until it was really dark, and then another 2.5 hours with my old mountain bike light. I wasn't sure how the long old battery on my Lights in Motion Seca would hold out. I was well into the woods now and figured I could just camp when the batter went dead. As it was I made it up to Mary's Peak road where I camped at a nice day use area. I slept in my bivvy bag under a star filled sky. This is what it's all about.
Left early and headed down the steep road towards Harlan. very rough at first with large gravel, but that gave way after a while to a very nice 10 miles of fast mountain downhill. I wasn't 100% sure I was on the right road as there had been one unmarked fork. This just added to the adventure. Every now and then I'd get a glimpse of the valley I was descending into. This was the heart of the Coast Range now. Very lush with lots of big trees, and ferns everywhere.
Eventually I came out at Harlan road which was mostly flat wide with well worn gravel. Easy going for 4 miles into the Harlan. I don't know if there was ever much here but now there was just one house at the intersection of Harlan Road and Harlan - Burnt Woods Road. There was a bridge over a creek with another road off to the south. This might have been the way to Hill Top road and the route to the coast on logging roads. I have heard this is a hard route to follow without a GPS or someone who know it so I opted for the easier, but longer, route through Elk City. A mile or so past Harlan was Big Elk Campground. I expected it would be a hot day so I stopped to get some water. There was none but some campers were happy to share.
It was another 20 miles along Big Elk Creek to Elk City. Elk City is where the creek hits the Yaquina River 23 miles upstream. There is a nice little park with a boat launch and (I think) camping. My route then joined a nice smooth, quiet paved road which came from Highway 20 and followed the river to Toledo. I stopped at a boat launch part way and had a snack. The river was already quite wide. I have made the trip to Newport many times but I had never been on this road, nor followed the river for this far. Bicycling is really the only way to go if you want to enjoy the country.
As I approached Toledo I could see the coastal cloud bank. I had expected it to be clear by now but was glad it was not as hot as it had been. There were a couple of big hills in and out of Toledo and then 12 miles on Yaquina Bay road to Newport. The sun was not coming out like the forecast had predicted. It was cool and windy all the way in. As I came to the harbor I could hear the sea lions making a ruckus. I made a mental note to come back to see them with my granddaughter, which I did the next day.
I had lunch at the South Beach fish market and then another 18 miles down the coast to Beachside State Park where Linda and January were camping. I had driven this stretch many times, and rode it once a couple of years ago, but it really seemed much longer than I expected. Plus it was windy and cold. The day before had been sunny and 80+ but today it was barely over 50. That's the coast for you. I knew it was a long ride, but was surprised when I got there to see the odometer at 99 miles.