From its dusty eastern reaches to its loamy river valleys and high-elevation lava flows, Oregon lures adventure-hungry bicyclists. And the Oregon Scenic Bikeways program makes it easy to explore. This year, 2019, marks the 10th anniversary of the nation’s first Scenic Bikeways program. There’s no better way to celebrate than pointing your wheels down one of these routes, chosen to highlight a variety of landscapes, skill levels and distances. Along the way, places to stay will inspire you to linger. Think hip hostels that pass you a beer at check-in, luxury cabins with soaking tubs and rooms equipped with hammocks. And you’ll know where you and your bike are loved: Oregon’s Bike Friendly Business Program gives proprietors a way to tell you loud and clear. Look for Bike Friendly Business signs and decals on windows.
It’s intoxicating: riding past fields of world-class hops, rolling along hills embellished with immaculate rows of wine grapes, leaning your bike outside a small cafe at a rural crossroads for a strong cup of coffee. The bounty of Oregon is on full display as you cycle the nation’s first Scenic Bikeway, 134 miles down a river valley snaking between the jagged Coast Range and Cascade mountains.
Jean Brougher, cyclist of 35 years, definitely has her cycling guests in mind at her bed and breakfast, the Century House, which is just a half-mile from the bikeway in Salem. Think handmade quilts, simple Craftsman aesthetic and a mostly window tiny house in the wooded yard for napping and reading. Plus, there’s a bicycle garage equipped with tools.
Sure, the Edelweiss Manor in Albany embraces classic countryside bed-and-breakfast elements; the 1908 farmhouse has a wraparound veranda, gardens and gazebos. But cyclists will also be happy to know there’s a spa on the premises. Mineral soaks in a vintage claw-foot tub and sessions in an infrared sauna are complimentary for B&B guests. And it’s just a mile and a half from the bikeway.
Velo Bed and Breakfast
You can’t get more Oregon than Velo Bed and Breakfast in Eugene, where the furniture is locally made and the farm animals are rescues. One owner specializes in organic vegan/vegetarian cuisine; the other is a bike builder, with tools and local knowledge to share. Plus, they give a 10% discount if you arrive by bike. Worth the extra 13 miles tacked onto the end of the bikeway route.
Many people still don’t know how good the riding is in far-flung Eastern Oregon. The 174-mile Old West Scenic Bikeway was designed to illuminate the experience. Ribbons of mostly deserted pavement weave through rangeland, along rushing rivers, up some serious climbs and toward an unending high-desert horizon. And around these parts, folks are known for a put-your-feet-up hospitality. Great lodging options, like the ones below, are right on the route.
Fish House Inn and RV Park
At the confluence of the scenic John Day and South Fork John Day rivers, Dayville (population under 200) embraces a sleepy Western vibe. Right in town, the Fish House Inn and RV Park sits on 3 pretty acres. Guests can camp, glamp (in a canvas tent) or rent a country cottage. Find a hammock on the well-kept grounds or lay out a spread at one of the beflowered wooden tables for guests.
History buffs will want to park their bikes at the Hotel Prairie in downtown Prairie City. In 1910 it hosted travelers, ranchers and railroad-business clientele. Revitalized in 2008, the stagecoach quality endures: brown leather furniture, gorgeous wood trim, old photographs lining the walls. And the outdoor garden is an awesome place to bust open a cold one at the end of a hot ride. The innkeepers offer box-lunch catering and bike-tour packages.
Take a luxe hostel, stir in some cattle country aesthetic and sprinkle in a touch of Oregon trendiness, and you’ll get the Spoke’n Hostel in downtown Mitchell, which caters to outdoor adventurers. The dorm room features handmade local blue-pine bunk beds complete with handmade quilts, charging stations, reading lights and privacy curtains. For guests wanting more retreat, there are private rooms.
Not for the faint of heart (or quads), this 55-mile loop starts and ends in Ashland and includes 5,000 feet of climbing. But the rewards are sweet. From town you climb through oak savanna into deep fir forests dotted with high prairie lakes and wildflower meadows. Snowcapped volcanoes stud the horizon. Stay in Ashland with the microbreweries and locavore cuisine. Or turn the ride into an overnight and stay in a cabin in the woods (with a hot tub).
Lithia Springs Resort
Your aching legs cry out? Lithia Springs Resort in Ashland answers. Famous for its mineral-rich underground springs, the resort’s rooms have tubs for soaking in after a long day’s ride. Cannonball into the outdoor saline swimming pool, chill in the Jacuzzi or check out the koi pond on the 4 acres of English-inspired gardens. Want more pampering? The Waterstone Spa is on-site and don’t miss afternoon tea with fresh-baked scones and fruit.
Green Springs Inn & Cabins
After a very long climb out of Ashland, you roll past Green Springs Inn & Cabins (mile 19), whose mission is built on a strong ethos of sustainability. They harness solar energy, use dead or dying trees to build cabins and even have an EV-charging station. This cabin-in-the-woods retreat provides a sumptuous way for a cyclist to linger in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Think private outdoor hot tubs. There are lodge rooms available as well.
The Cabins at Hyatt Lake
Just 3 miles down the route, The Cabins at Hyatt Lake (mile 22) also will woo a cyclist. The intimate circle of cabins (likewise equipped with outdoor hot tubs) nestled into the forest is right on a crystalline lake, ideal for a post-ride plunge. Plus, there’s a restaurant on-site to appease bottomless appetites.
From Sisters, this 38-mile former wagon trail climbs through a sage and ponderosa pine forest to a 65-square-mile lava flow with 360-degree summit views of Cascadian volcanoes. The 25-mile, 4,000-foot descent to the McKenzie River has brake-burning hairpin turns through the more lush “wet side” forest. Pro tip: The McKenzie Highway is closed during the winter, but for several weeks before it opens to cars in the spring, the road is solely dedicated to nonmotorized use.
To put a little luxury in your adventure, stay in a gorgeous FivePine Lodge Craftsman-style cabin in Sisters. It’s a splurging cyclist’s dream: soaking tubs, complimentary happy hour, a brewery, a spa, a pool, a movie house and a restaurant on campus.
Belknap Hot Springs, Lodge and Gardens
There is nothing quite like soaking in hot springs at the end of a ride, and Belknap Hot Springs, Lodge and Gardens has an ideal riverside pool, as well as an upper pool ringed with lounge chairs. Guest can stay in cabins, tent sites and lodge rooms — all situated where the bikeway ends at the junction with Highway 126.
Horse Creek Lodge and Outfitters
From its fire pit to its no-nonsense cabins, Horse Creek Lodge and Outfitters has the adventurer in mind. You can rent mountain bikes or paddleboards. Let them take you on a rafting trip or shuttle your sore tush back to Sisters. It’s about 4 miles from the end of the bikeway.
This bikeway gives you a delicious sample of Central Oregon, all in 36 miles. Plus, you get to base out of Bend, the beating heart of Oregon’s outdoor-recreation obsession. Along the route, imposing mountains crowd the horizon. You crisscross the scenic Deschutes River. The creamy-pavement roads take you past high-desert rock formations, ranches and farm fields.
Bunk + Brew
The Bunk + Brew hostel greets each guest with a cold microbrew. In this historic 1910 brick building, stay in a private room or dorm bed (an all-women dorm room is available). The yard encourages folks to chill out. Snooze in a hammock, lounge by the fire pit or make hamburgers on the gas grill.
Old St. Francis School Hotel
A 1936 former Catholic schoolhouse, the Old St. Francis School Hotel is a McMenamins property replete with classrooms turned lodging rooms, a pub, a brewery and a movie theater. Its soaking pool is a true gem, decorated with handcrafted tile, stained glass and a mural of St. Francis harvesting grapes.
The new ownership at the LOGE Entrada have given this property a face-lift, blending midcentury modern with rustic knotty-wood details, creating a distinctive Bend ambiance. And they want you and your bike to come visit. All rooms have wall bike racks, coolers and hammocks that unfurl from the ceiling.