Fat Bike Oregon’s South Coast: Banana Belt Loop

September 15, 2017

The Route (7 or 14 miles)

Difficulty Rating 3/5

Sea stacks, tide pools, caves, arches and stunning vistas abound on the 7-mile one-way or 14-mile round-trip. The ride can be taken north to south or south to north, depending on winds. For directions and map details, follow the self-guided Ride with GPS route.

Around 7 miles south of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River in Gold Beach lies Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor. Depending on the wind direction, this spectacular site starts or ends your beach ride in one of the most photogenic sections of the Oregon Coast. Lola Lake, about 1.7 miles south of the Pistol River 101 bridge, is the south end of this scenic beach.

The surrounding area is known as Oregon’s Banana Belt, which means it maintains pleasant temperatures year-round.

Just like the early Spanish navigator, Sebastian Vizciano, who first saw the cape in 1603, you too can explore the many caves, nooks and crannies that become accessible at the low tides.

Make sure to explore the rocks just south of Myers Creek right around the middle of the ride. Ochre sea stars, sea anemones and lots of other inter-tidal critters await your viewing in the many tide pools. Black oyster catchers and other shorebirds can be seen and heard out on the many sea stacks lining this great stretch of beach where there are no snowy plover closures to worry about.

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I started my ride at the northern end in the parking lot at the bottom of Cape Sebastian, choosing one of the trails down to the beach to begin riding north into the cape. This is a worthwhile 1-mile ride in and then back out of the cape while getting views of the magnificent Cape Sebastian and Hunters Island. Heading back to the south, we pedaled through Myers Creek, in and around the many rocks on the beach and on south towards Pistol River.

There are a couple of stream crossings along the way, with Pistol River demanding caution during higher flows in the winter and spring. Pistol River got its name from the Rogue River wars when a soldier lost his pistol in the river during a decisive battle fought here in 1856. This is the biggest stream to cross on the ride and can be fairly significant during the winter and early springtime. Like many of Oregon’s coastal rivers with no jetties, in July the river gets bar-bound, meaning it no longer flows into the Pacific Ocean and will not be an issue for riders. The river also seasonally meanders quite a bit, so where it reaches the ocean can be in very different locations each year.

Roughly 1.7 miles south of the bridge that crosses the river, there is a sign that designates the Oregon Coast Trail. This sign is on the edge of the Oregon Dunes and the beach, signifying the spot to ride inland to circumnavigate the small Lola Lake.

The Lola Lake loop is a super fun singletrack on packed sand and dirt that rounds what is more of a large wetland than a real lake. This roughly 1.5-mile loop trail is a blast and is the southernmost part of the ride.

With barely any wind blowing, I started at the north end at the playful sand bike park. Here I found perfect low tides and no crowds — a common sight at Oregon’s free and public beaches.

Alternate Start Point

Lola Lake Loop can be the start, the end or a turnaround point, if you are riding back to your vehicle on the north end below Cape Sebastian.

Driving south on Highway 101, before mile marker 341, there is a parking lot, just after a guardrail, where you can park at the Lola Lake Trailhead. It would be wise to start at the southern end in the morning before the winds blow if you are making this an up-and-back ride as the typical summer northwest trade winds start to blow around 10-11 a.m.

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

  • Pacific Reef Resort: Choose from economy to ocean views and enjoy all the amenities of this popular resort.
  • Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge: Long heralded as a dreamlike escape, this lodge is the perfect place to find peace after a busy day.
  • Ocean Suites Motel: Stay literally on the beach at these super-scenic suites in Brookings
  • Wild Rivers Motor Lodge: Clean and reasonably priced, this Brookings hotel checks all the boxes.

About The
Author

Dylan VanWeelden
Dylan VanWeelden is an adventure photographer who focuses on exploring the expansive outdoor experiences that Oregon has to offer. Keeping Portland as a home base, Dylan’s travels take him all over Oregon with the bicycle as his main tool for adventure.

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