Tour preview booklet: 49 pages; 69 photos; 8 maps
Rolling farm fields, shady woods, lazy rivers, and rock-ribbed coastline are the backdrop for this one-week tour around the northwest corner of Oregon. Beginning and ending in the college town of Corvallis, the tour follows a counterclockwise loop, first north for two days—along the valley of the Willamette River (more or less)—then west to the coast. On or near the coast for three days, then back inland through deep, tranquil forest.
This tour could easily be modified to make use of motels or inns every night. It’s a tour best done in August, when the likelihood of rain is at its lowest.
Stage 1: Corvallis to Champoeg State Park
75 miles, 3300’ up, 3400’ down
Quiet miles along the Willamette Valley, with a few moderate climbs and descents and occasional forest, but mostly rolling roads through fields of wheat and hops. Cross the big river on the little Wheatland Ferry and finish up in one of the nicest parks in the state, with sprawling lawns shaded by stately old trees. Showers. Or stay in nearby Newberg.
Stage 2: Champoeg State Park to Vernonia
68 miles, 4500’ up, 4000’ down
Begins with one of the bigger climbs of the tour: 1400′ up over ten miles, from the town of Newberg to the Bald Peak ridge line. Then it’s down the other side—a wild ride—to more miles through woods and farm fields. The final 21 miles are a dream ride along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a paved bike trail along the bed of an old logging railroad, deep in the forest (photo above). Stay in a pleasant park on the edge of town, with showers and a big swimming hole. Or stay in lodgings in the town.
Stage 3: Vernonia to Seaside
72 miles, 3300’ up, 3900’ down
One of the easier days of the tour, with only one significant climb. Head west along the banks of the pretty Nehalem River. Then, after that one big climb and the descent off the far side, follow the Youngs River all the way to the town of Seaside. We camped on the lawn at Seaside Middle School, but you may opt for indoor accommodations. There is no shortage of inns and hotels in Seaside, one of the most popular beach resorts in Oregon.
Stage 4: Seaside to Cape Lookout State Park
71 miles, 5000’ up and down
61 miles, 4200′ up and down
A classic day on the Oregon coast. Fabulous vistas from atop rocky cliffs above the ocean. Numerous detours onto quiet, pretty side roads, including the spectacular climb and descent over Cape Meares. Visits to charming Cannon Beach and the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Camp in a pretty state park amid wooded dunes, just off the beach. Showers. Or stay in lodgings in nearby Netarts.
Stage 5: Cape Lookout State Park to South Beach State Park
73 miles, 4800′ up and down
Another fun day on the coast, beginning with the big climb over Cape Lookout. A couple of nice detours off the main highway follow, the first along a lovely section of almost-abandoned older highway, and the latter bypassing the messy sprawl of Lincoln City. Then a long run down the seashore to the city of Newport, at least as popular as Seaside as a beach resort. Camp in a full-service state park or seek out one of the many inns or motels in the town.
Stage 6: Optional layover day ride
33-46-65 miles, 2000-3000′ up and down
The tour—as drawn up—provides for a relaxed layover day in Newport. Short rides along Yaquina Bay to the town of Toledo are offered, but so are the options of exploring the tourist attractions in Newport, including the superb Oregon Coast Aquarium, within walking distance of camp.
Stage 7: South Beach to Corvallis
100 miles, 6300′ up, 6100′ down
85 miles, 4600′ up, 4400′ down
Big miles for this final day, but generally easy miles. After another run south along the coast, including a quiet detour along Beaver Creek, both routes turn inland, up the wooded valley of the Alsea River. The shorter route sticks with the river for many meandering miles, while the longer route departs for exquisite back roads through Lobster Valley and the woods that follow…as close to cycling perfection as one could hope to find. The routes rejoin just west of Corvallis for a few final miles through the city’s rural-residential fringe, capped off with a bike trail through parks and along the Willamette River, right to the door of the motel at the finish. (Both the first and last nights of the tour are spent in this motel on the beautifully renovated river frontage in Corvallis, close to many good restaurants.)