: Russ Roca

Ride the Oregon Coast

August 28, 2017
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The best days of riding weather in Oregon, are really late summer and early fall — and that’s an opportune time to execute that epic coastal ride you’ve maybe had in the back of your mind for a while. While Oregon has a stunning variety of terrains and landscapes to ride, in the end a ride along the coast is a classic that will never go out of style.

The Oregon Coast Bike Route, a 370-mile jaunt from border to border, is one of the most spectacular stretches of road in the United States, displaying countless scenic panoramas, hitting legendary spots while also unveiling some hidden gems that are off the normal tourist path.

The route is mapped and signed by Oregon Department of Transportation; the official map details camping resources (including designated bike-camping locations). Of course, there are plenty of options for credit-card camping as well — motels, lodges, B&Bs…

There are a few things to consider if you want to experience this coastal journey. First is that you don’t have to do it all at once. With the detailed mapping available, it’s easy to hop on and off at any point that makes sense for your schedule. Pick your segment, make your plans, and go. September is an optimal time to check it out, because tourist traffic on the roads drops off after Labor Day.

Second, it’s typically best ridden north to south, to take advantage of normal wind patterns; going south to north is a harder ride — although that’s not to say it’s an easy ride in either direction. Study that map carefully so you know when you’re going to be climbing up over a cape or on the shoulder of a mountain. There are significant climbs involved at certain points, so be sure you’re ready to take them on whether you’re riding light or fully loaded.

Not that we want to scare you off… pedal the Oregon Coast and you’ll enjoy the quiet seclusion of Otter Crest Loop, the back streets of Newport, and the lighthouse loop at Winchester Bay. The South Coast is, in many people’s minds, even more spectacular than the northern stretches — and far less populated. There are so many highlights along the way.

If you have the chance, you should ride the Oregon Coast.

Note: There are also some bridge crossings, tunnels and narrow shoulders, so if you’re not comfortable riding in highway traffic, you might want to select a section that’s off Highway 101 (the optional Three Capes section west of Tillamook and the Seven Devils area north of Bandon veer off Highway 101 for significant stretches).

Second Note: The Three Capes portion, which is marked with a dotted line on the official map, is a wild and scenic ride along some prime landscape. But there is a stretch of “broken road” just where the road from Tillamook turns up for Cape Meares. The road is still closed to vehicles as of spring 2017, but multiple cyclists have reported being able to make their way through this section and enjoy the rest of the loop.

Want to find out more?

Find the official ODOT map of the Coast Route here.


Editor’s note: In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit TripCheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only. If you’re unsure about road riding, consider a fat-tire bike ride on the Oregon Coast instead.

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Ask Oregon

Where is the best place to camp, hike and bike on the North Oregon Coast?

My top choice would be Cape Lookout State Park southwest of Tillamook for the best camping experience. The campground is right next to the beach and there are several miles of hiking trails including one to the end of the cape through old-growth Sitka Spruce rainforest. Bikes are not allowed on State Park trails, so…

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