North Oregon Coast 2012
Corvallis to Corvallis via the coast
This tour was delayed a couple of weeks as I was recovering from being hit by a car on July 30, 2012. It also involved a new bike. The Surly Disc Trucker which I got in April was now wrecked, and in it's place I now had a new Soma Saga touring bike. The Saga was really the bike I wanted and this would be it's maiden voyage.
This would be a door-to-door tour from my house in Corvalis. I knew I'd be dealing with some traffic and unpleasant roads heading north through the Willamette Valley, but I really wanted to make it a loop. As it turned out the Banks-Vernonia trail, and Stub Stewart park were well worth the ride.
Once on the coast I'll be roughly following the Oregon Coast Bike Route.
My actual route was shorter than the map on the right as I cut over from Waldport to Corvallis on highway 34.
Below is my log for each day of the tour. Use the navigation controls to scroll through the days .
Day one of my Coast Loop. Definitely a bit of trepidation less than two months from being hit by a car. I rode on 99W most of the day, which has a nice wide shoulder but plenty of traffic. Still tense up with each approaching car. I hope to be on quieter roads tomorrow.
Long hot day on a lot of roads I have never been on. The route I was following took me on a gravel road. The gravel was a bit loose and I decided to head over to highway 42 instead. Big mistake. There was no shoulder and a bunch of big grain hauler trucks that came way to close. I bailed on that road at the very first opportunity. After that it was much better. I spent a little time in Banks, getting food, before heading out on the rail-to-trail. The trail is about 20 miles but I would only be doing half of it today. It was a wonderful ride, mostly in the woods, but popping out into the sun every now and then. It was easy railroad grade except for a few swoops down and up where there used to be a bridge. Some of the bridges were preserved or rebuilt for the trail.
It was a bit of a climb from the trail up to Stub Stewart park. Not marked anywhere either. The park did not have hiker/biker but had some great hike in sites about a quarter mile down a rough old logging road, which was mostly ridable. The site were in a beautiful stand of fir trees. Wonderful camping in the woods.
Actually west of Jewel free camping before the big climb. I had a much better day today. The first 10 miles was on the Banks Vernonia bike path. Awesome, especially because it's not all up hill like the first 10 miles was. In Vernonia Anderson park is right at the end of the path and there were RV hookups where I charged my phone and bathrooms. After that it was with much trepidation that I headed out on 47 for the 15 miles to Mist. Traffic was light, consisting almost entirely of log trucks. It seemed like each time one came a little bit of shoulder appeared. A couple of times I just bailed into the gravel. A bit stressful but not terrible.
There was nothing in Mist but then I was on 202. Another world. It was at least 30 minutes before a car passed me. Only 1 empty log truck the whole way.
I stopped at a house in Jewel, that's all there is, where a kind lady filled my water bottles, and then on past the Elk Refuge and into the woods. The last few miles was starting the climb over the Coast Range but the real grunt will be in the morning. I'm only 30 miles from Astoria so after the climb tomorrow should be an easier day.
Woke up to gray skies. A few miles of moderate climbing into the fog, and then 20 miles downhill in the mist. Got damp but not too cold. Stoped at Onley for hot tea, which helped warm me up. Lady there said the reason the road was so quiet was because the woods were closed to logging due to high fire danger. So no log trucks! From here there was a nice back road that wound around a bay and on into Astoria.
Astoria itself is no fun for cycling. Lot's of traffic and tourists. I managed to find the co-op where I stopped for lentil soup and got some food for the road. Took some pictures but is was dark and gray. Looking at the bridge on 101 I was sure glad I didn't ride over from Washington.
It took forever to get to Fort Stevens park, and when I got here I was pretty cold. The hiker/biker camp did not look very inviting so I got a yurt. After a shower I rode the mile bike path to the beach. Feels like I crossed a continent to get here. On the beach was an old ship wreck which evidently is quite famous.
Met Beau Bassett at the bike camp. He is riding from Washington to Santa Cruz, stoping at high schools to talk to them about community service programs. Very interesting guy. The day started out misty but them got dry through Seaside and Cannon Beach. Had lunch and did laundry at Cannon Beach. Once over Arch Cape it was foggy and wet again. Had to go through a noisy tunnel. Pretty hairy. At the end of the tunnel there were a couple of cyclists stopped. Elenore and Nick are from Portland just doing a couple of days riding. They took the bus to Astoria and will take one back from Tillamook. They both work at a co-op in NE. While we were talking Beau caught up with us. After the tunnel were a couple of big climbs and descents. There was road construction and the flaggers held the cars and let the bikes go through alone. It would have been very scenic but it was socked in fog. Eventually all 4 of us, at different times, arrived at the very nice hiker/biker camp. We had a nice fire and stayed up relatively late. Forecast is for better weather tomorrow.
Today was the day when it all came together to make the whole trip worthwhile. I took an alternate route on Foley Creek and Miami River which got me off of 101 for 15 miles. I was hoping it would be sunny a bit further inland but no such luck. More misty clouds but a nice ride through a pretty coastal valley. Back on 101 along Tillamook Bay was also very nice. Lunch and shopping in Tillamook and then west through dairy country and back along the south end of the bay on a narrow road with little traffic. The mist was gone and I could see blue sky over the ocean. I did not take the extra loop around Cape Mears but instead followed the main route which began to climb steeply through a lush coastal forest. Eventually I popped out at Oceanside to a beautiful beach with a surfer out on the waves and the sun starting to poke through. Then a gorgeous ride along the beach and then Netarts Bay and finally to Cape Lookout State Park. The hiker/biker camp was right near the beach and the sun was now seriously shinning through. Beau, whom I had met two days before already had his camp setup and was on the beach. There were a bunch of other cyclists including Craig from New Mexico and Charley from Portland. According to the ranger this is the most popular cyclist camp spot on the coast. There was a glorious sunset topping an incredable day of riding on the Oregon Coast.
It was hard to leave such a spectacular spot as Cape Lookout. Beau decided to lay over a day. Probably the last I'll see of him.
The day started with a big climb. Charley, whom I met the night before, and his friend Bill who joined him for a day ride, were riding with me. Bills wife was SAGing their gear so they were riding light. Even so I was able to keep up with them. The road was still quiet and ran though more lush forest with occasional views of the ocean, from way up high. Then it was a fast descent to Pacific City.
Pacific City is home to the famous Pelican brewery and pub, and the place was hoping. It was full on sunny and warm now and their was a lot going on. There was a surf contest, hang gliding off of Cape Kiwanda, and hundreds of beach goers. We stopped for lunch and spent a good deal of time eating and watching the people.
From Pacific City the route joins 101 again for a while before turning off at Slab Creek which takes you to Old Scenic Highway 101. The sign said "road closed ahead" for construction but we ignored it. It was nice back road up a scenic coastal valley. At the top there was a couple of hundred feet of construction. Unpassable by car but an easy walk for us. We were happy for it since in meant no cars on the road for the scenic downhill. This was the back way over Cascade Head, which is the biggest climb on 101. Much nicer on this route.
When we got to Otis I parted ways with Charley and Bill and took the North Bank Road which follows the Salmon River uo to my friend Scott's house, where I would spend the night.
Not much riding today which allowed me to relax and spend the moring visiting with Scott and Terri. They've been living there in the woods near the Salmon river since 1980. Probably the most stable people I know.
I headed back via North Bank road to Three Rocks Road to 101. On the approach to Lincoln City the nice 4 foot shoulder I had enjoyed on the last few legs of 101 disappeared, which was not pleasant. Soon up ahead I saw a familiar site and caught up with Beau as he stopped to pickup a penny. We chatted a few minutes and I headed on to meet Linda and JJ at Captain Cook motel. We went to the beach where JJ had a great time, and then went out for dinner.
Hung out with Linda and JJ at the motel until almost 11:00. It was a cooler, hazy day. The sun was shining but couln't generate much heat.
Otter Crest Loop was today's highlight. A too short section of road where only south bound traffic and bikes were allowed. Great views.
The ride through Newport was pleasant, but then I had to walk over the Yaquina Bay bridge. The surf was much bigger today. Looked to be st least 6-8 feet at most beaches. Didn't see any surfers though.
Met up with Linda and JJ again in Waldport. While we were talking Craig, whom I met at Cape Lookout came riding by. I had a spaghetti dinner in Waldport and then proceeded the remaining 3 miles to the campground. Another great spot nestled in the shore pine just off the beach. Camped with Craig and Garth, a Candian who has toured all over the world, and is currently on his way to South America.
(I followed Garth online as he completed his ride all the way to the tip of South America. Made me wish I could have just kept riding.)
Decision day. I could have stayed out a couple more days, but really had no destination. I stopped at the Forest Service office in Waldport to get a map, but then proceeded on to highway 34.
Once got out on Alsea highway I could smell the barn and there was nothing stopping me. I was a gorgeous day and there was very little traffic. I stopped the Blackberry campground, but it was far to early to camp. I stopped again at the Salmonberry campground but this is a county park that charges too much for one cyclist. So I kept going.
The climb up Alsea mountain was a killer coming so late in the ride. Definitely steeper than anything on the coast. Got home before dark and had a nice long day to show for it.
So Stage One of my Coast Tour is complete. Don't know when I'll do the south coast. Probably not next year. Riding the coast is wonderful, but I've spent lots of time on the coast and there are a lot of other places I have never been. So maybe something new next year, and then the south coast.