The first consideration for riding the C2C is a hotly debated topic – what kind of bike should you ride? While both a gravel bike and a hardtail mountain bike are fine choices, the hardtail is preferable for most riders. Don’t let the first seven miles of relatively flat pavement fool you – much of the route consists of loose chunky gravel, steep climbs, and even steeper descents that call for wide tubeless tires and disc brakes. Wide range gearing with a generous easy gear is highly recommended, especially if you’re carrying camping gear.
The route itself is nearly 60 miles with a formidable 5,000’ of elevation gain. Although it is well-signed, numerous roads and intersections make it easy to get lost, so be sure to carry a map. Starting in downtown Corvallis, you can grab some spare tubes, dehydrated meals, and bug spray from Peak Sports before working your way through the valley on scenic bike paths and mellow country roads to Philomath, a former logging town and your last chance for potable water for 20 miles. After leaving Philomath you’ll head straight up towards Marys Peak, the highest point in the coast range. As you enter the gated Siuslaw National Forest you’ll pass through the Corvallis Watershed. If you filled your bottles in Corvallis it’s likely that your drinking water passed through this same forest.
The other side of Marys Peak delivers a well-earned descent and epic views. As you gaze west over the rolling mountains, take a moment to appreciate the distance you’ll cover between here and the ocean. The next several miles travel up and down remote gravel roads before arriving at one of the highlights of the C2C – Sugar Bowl Creek Trail. Although it was built primarily by hikers, the winding, duffy descent rivals any purpose-built flow trail. After you exit the lush forest with a huge grin on your face, you’ll coast into picturesque Harlan Valley and toward Big Elk Campground – the ½ way point. Big Elk has a hiker/biker camp ($5/person) and water spigots.
The second half begins by climbing out of the small valley and back into National Forest land. The hiking and cycling routes part ways here, but the two paths will cross many times. After several more up and down miles along mossy, fern-lined roads, the route settles in along Beaver Creek, a classic coastal stream that feels like it’s straight out of a fairytale. The forest falls away as you pedal into Beaver Creek State Natural Area , an expansive marsh that bridges the forest and the ocean. The marsh birds will be cheering you on as you cross the finish line at Highway 101 and celebrate among the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. From here you can arrange a shuttle back to the valley or hop on the Coast to Valley Express – a bus that travels between Corvallis and Newport (8 miles north of Ona Beach).
Few experiences capture the magic and beauty of Oregon’s Coast Range like riding the C2C. If you’re looking for a unique route that checks all the boxes and you’re not afraid of long climbs and chunky gravel descents, the C2C will be an unforgettable adventure.