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 a regular road 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. Thanks to many hardworking cyclists, these routes are expertly mapped and connected.
Whether you plan an extended trip or one section, taking the scenic route by fat bike may take longer than you think, with all of the photogenic sea caves, arches, sea stacks, tide pools, lighthouses, rivers, old-growth forests and more natural features to experience.
Here’s how to plan your idyllic fat-bike coastal adventure.
Cruise Among Sea Stacks on the North Coast
Oregon’s North Coast beaches are best known for kite flying, dog running, sandcastle building and other modes of frollicking and chilling out. If you’ve got a bike, you won’t be far from a cycle-friendly coffee shop, brewpub, restaurant or hotel — you’re definitely in the center of the action.
If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a fat bike and try one of four moderate routes: the 15-mile Fort Stevens route, which starts in Gearhart; the 6-mile Cannon Beach route, for serious views of Haystack Rock; the dreamy 13-mile Cape Kiwanda route, which meanders through Pacific City; and the 11-mile Cape Lookout route.
Ride the Dunes Along the Central Coast
Four mapped rides on the Central Coast will get you rolling where you want to go. Starting in Lincoln City, the mild 5-mile Roads End Ride cruises through the wide-open shoreline here (keep an eye out for kite fliers). Farther south in Newport, wind your way along the Newport Otter Rock Beach Ride for 14 miles of low-tide thrills (or turn back anytime for a shorter route).
More experienced riders may want to venture south for the Newport to Yachats ride — 28 glorious miles that include creek and bridge crossings and views of the spectacular Seal Rocks. In Florence intrepid fat-bikers can take on the Florence Dune Exploration route. 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 adrenaline-fueled fun on two wheels, like a giant sandy skate park.
Rolling With the Sea on the South Coast
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. Four mapped routes mean the work is half-done for you.
Experienced riders can take a 13-mile jaunt through the John Dellenback Dunes, accessed via the Eel Creek Campground near the small town of Lakeside, south of Reedsport and can be accessed via the Eel Creek Campground. Take a quick break from riding and hike along the 2.7-mile John Dellenback Dunes Trail to reach the ocean. Biking is not allowed on the trail — though it’s still a great stop to appreciate the dunes. As you hit the ocean, the sea birds and salty air in Bandon call. The 19-mile Bandon Fat Bike Beach Ride is full of rugged sea stacks. Next up is the 8.1-mile, spectacularly scenic portion from Cape Blanco to Port Orford. Just south of Gold Beach, the 10-mile Banana Belt Loop is a stunner, with tide pools and rivers galore.
Check out Bandon-based South Coast Bicycles (for gear and service but no rentals) or Port Orford-based Pineapple Express, which provides rentals. Ask about shuttle service for a convenient return trip.
If You Go:
- 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 sea anemones you encounter.
Avoid areas that are closed due to western snowy plover nesting season, March 15 to Sept. 15. Learn more about how to protect this threatened species here.