Cycle Touring Oregon
In 2012, I did a tour of Oregon organized by Supertour. The route was planned by Steve Rogers, and it is one of the best cycle tour routes I have ever done in terms of highly concentrated good riding. The riding was superb in that it had excelled in 5 factors of major importance to me:
1) Low Traffic. There were a couple of sections with slightly heavier traffic that I’ll try to help you avoid.
2) Excellent scenery.
3) Cool summer weather – some of this ride is either at higher elevations or influenced by cool costal air. I’ll try and help you avoid the hot summer sections.
4) Good quality Roads. When we rode pavement, the roads were great. I did some dirt sections as an option to avoid slightly busier roads.
5) Great Camping along the way. Beautiful campsites by lakes; what could be better than that!?
This route was designed to be a 2 week tour, averaging about 50-90 miles per day. If you have only one week to do this tour, that’s great, because you can avoid some of the busier, hotter sections in the South.
This ride is just a ride up Ashland Mountain. One advantage to doing this if you are in Ashland is that it is cooler at the higher elevations. Although this is a nice ride, I wouldn’t recommend this as a superb route. If you have the full 12 days, definitely include it in your plans, but otherwise, please consider the 7 day trip I have outlined below.
This was another ride, originating at the Ashland Campground near Emigrant Lake. It takes you to Hyatt Reservoir and Howard Prarie Lake. As mentioned above, if you have the full 12 days, this is a nice excursion, but there are better rides deeper in the description.
This ride repeats a portion of Day 1 (ride 2). Again, this route is very good, but in comparison to some of the scenery encountered later in this tour, it’s not quite as nice.
This route (GPS file in header link above) takes you through some of Oregon’s great scenery. You will go around Crater Lake. We also took a long out-and-back down Pinnacles Road to the Crater Lake Pinnacles on Wheeler Creek. This out-and-back involves a long descent to some pinnacles that are interesting, but the scenery at the lake far-exceeds the scenery at the pinnacles. My advice would be: if you have the time and energy for a ~1,300′ descent (and subsequent ascent), go for it. Otherwise, just ride around the lake and head to Diamond Lake. If you’re particularly short on time, you could ride from the start point Near Fort Klamath, and just go on one side of the lake to the finish at Diamond Lake. Diamond Lake has a number of lodging options, including Camping, RV camping, and a resort.
Today you will ride from Diamond Lake to Odell Lake. If you follow the GPS track linked above, you will ride some of the quietest roads you have ever experienced. North Umpqua Road, after we passed Lemolo Lake, had no traffic for several hours. The scenery (mostly forest) allowed you to focus on enjoying the ride. The road was well paved and in good condition for riding. This route is a special treat for road cyclists. The destination (Odell Lake) has tent camping, RV camping, and a resort – just like Diamond Lake the night before! Riding these last two days is nearly perfect: low traffic roads (or at least low speed at Crater lake), world class scenery, good pavement, options to lengthen or shorten your ride, and varied lodging options.
Today’s route will take you through a variety of scenery, some relatively flat riding around the lower flanks of Mount Bachelor, and later into high desert scenery (and “big” city life) near Bend. As you get within 15 miles of Bend, the scenery deteriorates a little, and the traffic increases. Nevertheless, Bend can be an amazing town to visit: particularly if you are a fan of Microbrews; Bend has more microbreweries than most cities in the US.
Today’s ride starts on quiet roads that avoid the busier HWY 20. You have the option of shortcutting the route by taking HWY 126 directly to Sisters. You can also take the longer route that heads to the base of Black Butte. The longer route is the way we went, and it is rolling through rural neighborhoods. Sisters is an interesting town to stop and get lunch. Sisters is where “wild west” meeds “new age.” It has a slight feel of both concepts, and is a nice, convenient place to hang out and make purchases. The ride from here, to Bellknap hot springs is nothing less than fantastic. The pavement is great, the traffic is low, the scenery of the lava fields is unique! Half way through (at the summit), you can stop at an observatory and look through a scope at the peaks to the South East. You can see all of the “sisters” mountains. From the summit, the descent begins gradually through lava fields, but as you get lower, you’ll be in an increasingly lush environment. Eventually, at an elevation of about 1,000′, you will come to the McKenzie river. Here you can choose from a variety of accommodations to suit all styles. We stayed at Camp Yale, but you could also stay at Paradise Campground. If you need a room, you can visit the Belknap Lodge.
Today’s route takes you on some amazingly quiet and beautiful roads with fantastic pavement and good views. It is a shorter day.