Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway
When the weather warms, it seems far too many Oregon byways can be busy blurs that just don’t allow you enough time to slow down, get out of the race and set your own pace for travel across the state.
In the southern Willamette Valley, you will slow down and savor the spirit of cycling adventure near Cottage Grove. You’ll love rolling through six bridges on a 36-mile stretch of flat, paved bikeway along the new “Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway” as you glide past scenery that takes your breath away.
Built in the 1920’s, Chambers Bridge had hit on hard times was on the brink of collapse a couple of years ago when the community decided they couldn’t let that happen. They raised millions of dollars to fund the restoration in 2010 and soon began to take the old bridge apart piece-by-piece.
The rebuilding of Chambers Bridge went on the fast track! They used 30 percent of the old bridge materials and re-built a connection with history that reopened to cyclists and hikers in December 2011.
“We saved a structure that defined us and sets us apart from every other town in America!” said Travis Palmer, Cottage Grove resident.
It is also a reflection of the larger Cottage Grove dedication to hold on to history: “We are a classic small town in America downtown! If you walk Downtown, see all these great old shops and yet we’ve got modern business tucked right next to it. We fancy ourselves as the melting pot of the Pacific Northwest.”
Blair Winter showed up a couple years ago and added a key ingredient to the Cottage Grove pot when he bought the Rainy Peak Bicycles, the town’s only bike shop.
He is an ambassador of sorts for the fast growing two-wheeled recreation and said the new Covered Bridge Bikeway is perfect fit for the southern end of the Willamette Valley.
“It’s family friendly and a really easy to ride with little traffic, and of course, the mountain bike community has discovered some of our great mountain trails as well.”
He is right! Oakridge, Oregon is little more than an hour away and boasts over 500 miles of Cascade Mountain trails that offer a challenge and fine compliment to the new scenic bikeway.
If you don’t normally travel with your bike – not to worry – Rainy Peak also rents bikes, so you can cruise in, rent a bike and get on the new bikeway in a matter of minutes.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.