Fat-Tire Biking the Oregon Coast
From rocky headlands to wide-open shores, agates, seabirds, tide pools and lighthouses in the distance, the Oregon Coast is a balm for the soul. Why ride it? Because its 363 miles of glorious coastline are full of wonder, largely car-free and accessible for us all.
Rather than try to ride the length of Oregon Coast Highway 101 by bike — which is challenging and treacherous at times — fat-tire bikes are made for riding on sand, built with more suspension like mountain bikes and giant 4-inch tires so they don’t sink in.
Whether you plan an extended trip or one section, taking the scenic route by fat bike may take longer than you think, with the all of the Instagram-worthy sea caves and arches, sea stacks, and tide pools, lighthouses, rivers, old-growth forests and more natural features to explore.
Here’s how to plan your idyllic fat bike coastal adventure.
If you want to cruise the stretches of beach between coastal hot spots like Seaside, Cannon Beach and Pacific City by fat bike, it’s entirely possible, but be prepared to respect the space of kite-flyers, sandcastle-builders and other beach users. On the plus side, you won’t go far without a bike-friendly coffee shop, brewpub, restaurant or hotel nearby — you’re definitely in the center of the action. But it’s not all crowded. You’ll encounter more sea birds than people along the 15-mile route from Cape Lookout (near Tillamook) to Pacific City, where you’ll likely get your feet wet around the Sand Lake area. Check out Wheel Fun Rentals in Seaside, Portland-based Pedal Bike Tours (which rents bike racks for transportation) or The Bike Concierge, based in Oregon City.
The stretch of coastline between Lincoln City and Florence is its own beast. Cruise along wide-open beaches here near Depoe Bay, the whale-watching capital of the state, and you may just be lucky enough to spot a spouting whale or two. This stretch is also known for its abundance of wildlife and treasures like sand dollars and shiny agates. Around Florence, mountain bikers and other thrill-seekers will want to to try riding the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where the bowls and ridges of the dunes make for hours of punishing fun on two wheels, like a giant sandy skate park. Check out Bike Newport, Safari Town Surf in Lincoln City or Cog Wild Bicycle Tours out of Bend.
Here on the longest but least crowded section of Oregon coastline — the 133 miles from Reedsport to Brookings — you can quite possibly have a beach to yourself. Summertime winds typically come from the north, so keep that tailwind at your back and don’t miss the 8.1-mile spectacularly scenic portion from Cape Blanco to Port Orford. Port Orford and many towns along the South Coast are an art-lover’s paradise, with galleries galore. Check out Bandon-based South Coast Bicycles or Port Orford-based Pineapple Express Adventure Rides, which provides guided trip packages and van shuttle service for a convenient return trip.
Wherever you go fat biking on the Coast, check the tides and try to go during low tide as much as possible. Beware of sneaker waves and stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches. Respect the sensitive micro-environments, whether it’s birds or anenome you encounter. For more inspiration, read about 100 miles of fat bike adventures on the Oregon Coast, and other Coast road trip hot spots.
about author Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters and other online content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.
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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.