Oregon coast range.
Riders often ask us at Pashnit Motorcycle Tours where to ride when they visit the Pacific Northwest. The answer is quite simple, really. Go to Coastal Oregon. These are places of immense beauty and awe-inspiring vistas. Seems simple enough. Ah, but getting there, now there is where the fun lies.
Our tour begins from Ashland, Oregon, a few miles over the California border on the very edge of Southern Oregon.
Something special happens as we move across the imaginary state border. The terrain changes, the climate changes, the road surface changes, subtle things motorcyclists notice. It just feels... different.
Our route follows along deep rivers and train tracks that carve along gentle curves. Rivers come in the shape of loops. We'll ride one, then another, then another large loop into the hills & back. Southwestern Oregon will surprise you. The remoteness, the hilly terrain, small towns and the one thing we did not expect was the quality of the road surfaces.
This ride day is actually composed of seven loops into the hills and back as we make our way northward out to the Pacific Ocean across the Wild Rogue Wilderness.
What surprises our riders the most is how remote it is. Name a place where you can ride a 60-mile stretch of twisty road and see almost no one.
But there is one thing that's hard to avoid. Oregon is home to numerous covered bridges, Buster Keaton action movies, and the parade scene in the movie Animal House in the central Oregon town of Cottage Grove.
And the logging... They still do that here. While in nearby California logging has become a rarity, here in Oregon it's everywhere. Mountain ranges are lower in elevation than the Sierra Nevada range to the south. Oregon remains the leading state in the nation for timber harvesting and lumber production. While logged stands of woodland seem everywhere, we ride, Oregon has the highest voluntary reforestation compliance rate in the nation -- averaging 97%. That means Oregonians plant as much as 47 million seedlings per year - every year, and as a result - annual forest growth exceeds harvest by 33%.
So, converting that to a motorcyclist's perspective - it means the forests are readily accessible, and the logging companies have carved out roads to gain ready access to their timber stands.
The Grandest Secret...
Herein lies the grand secret to Oregon Motorcycle Roads...
When the logging companies maintain the roads for easy accessibility to their timber, the side effect is amazing motorcycle roads. Smooth, narrow, deserted, remote. Everything we love about riding motorcycles can be found here.
You will love these roads. Many riders simply can't believe their eyes. Twisty road that goes on and on...
Aufderheide Memorial Drive, National Forest 19, also known as Aufderheide Scenic Drive overlooking Cougar Reservoir, is an Oregon favorite. Cougar Lake is a long, narrow mountain reservoir, built by the Corps of Engineers in 1963 by damming the South Fork of the McKenzie River about three miles south of Rainbow. Cougar Reservoir is located outside of Blue River along Aufderheide Drive, part of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. The lake was named Cougar because of its proximity to Cougar Creek, a small stream used to designate the dam site on preliminary surveys. Colorful sunshades of conifer and deciduous trees escort riders along this charming river drive, and the curves are outstanding. Campgrounds abound with bridges and refreshing swimming holes along the way.
Oregon Coast Range...
You can't talk about Oregon without mentioning the Pacific Coastline. Now let's first establish that this isn't California and the Pacific Coast Road in Oregon is the polar opposite to NorCal's Highway 1 and the world-famous Big Sur coastline.
Rather, Oregon Highway 1 tracks lazily sometimes along the water, other lengths run through stands of forest. Through the years, we've made our way to Cape Arago State Park, near Coos Bay, and viewed 40-miles of coastal sand dunes plus visited the famous Haceta Head Lighthouse - one of eleven lighthouses along the Oregon coast.
Florence is a small city at the mouth of the Siuslaw River as it reaches the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast. Its vast Sea Lion Caves are home to noisy sea lions. Nearby, trails around the restored 19th-century Heceta Head Lighthouse offer views of seabirds and migrating whales. Shops and galleries fill the city’s Historic Old Town district. Across the river are the towering sand mounds of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Florence was the site of a famous scene, when town authorities used 20 cases of explosives to try to blow up a forty-five-foot, eight-ton sperm whale that washed ashore in 1970. In addition to the stench and the possibility that the body would burst, local officials were concerned that people curious about the carcass might climb on it and fall in. Expectations assumed the whale would be disintegrated in the blast; the opposite occurred, when the blast instead distributed random whale blubber over a vast radius. Large chunks of whale blubber were blasted as far away as a 1/2 mile, one large chunk landed on a vehicle and destroyed the automobile. In 2020 residents voted to name a new park in Florence, the Exploding Whale Memorial Park.
Oceans also mean lighthouses, and we will be riding right past the Umqua River Lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, and remains one of the few lighthouses you can climb to the top of. The Umpqua River Lighthouse has a rich history, and before it was placed at the top of the 100-foot bluff overlooking the entrance into Winchester Bay, it was commissioned in 1857 along the sandy beach of the Umpqua River. Less than 10 years later, a new lighthouse was needed, due to flooding the original lighthouse had fallen over. Luckily the light apparatus was moved because the structure had started to tilt after the Umpqua River rose 45 feet. It is one of the few coastal lighthouses you can ride right up to, and this easy access makes it a requisite stop to enjoy the cool ocean air.
The tiny town of Powers provides access into the Siskiyou National Forest in the Oregon Coast Range. Roads here are endlessly twisty, narrow and often single lane. Our ride is on paved logging roads past assorted dirt spider roads that reach off into the surrounding forest. Our dual sport riders see these, and pledge to return to explore the Coast Range even further. Other nearly ridgelines are covered in a carpet of new trees from recent replanting efforts, as the cycle of harvesting and replanting the forest extends over decades.
The Oregon Coast Range is low in elevation in stark contrast to our many tours in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The nearby Mount Bolivar is a mere 4300 ft, but regarded as the highest peak in the county and sometimes confused as the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range. On the clearest of days, and if you stand in the right spot, it is said you can see from Mount Hood to Mount Shasta as well as to the Pacific Ocean. The majority of our day is spent in the Coast Range before finally reaching Gold Beach near the California border.
This tour will conclude in Gold Beach, Oregon; plan an extra day to explore the Northern California Motorcycle Wonderland a few miles away.
Tour: August 30-02, 2024
Meet: 57 N Main St, Ashland, OR
Arrive: 7:00 AM, Safety Brief 7:30, Depart 8:00 AM
Cost: $540 per rider, $119 Passenger
This tour includes narrow single lane paved mountain roads. The ride includes steep grades to 20% and negotiating tight hairpin corners. All roads on this tour are paved.
EXPERIENCED RIDERS ONLY:
This tour is not recommended for beginner riders or Very Large Motorcycles. Riders are expected to have at least several years of enthusiastic experience on their motorcycle riding remote challenging paved mountain backroads along with at least 5000+ miles of concurrent recent experience.
This tour is limited by the amount of rooms at our host lodging. We have booked rooms months in advance and our tours sell out by the end of January. Get on our mailing list to be the first to know about new rides. Tours are planned & announced in the late fall of each year.
Book early to ensure a spot on this new ride. Check with us to see if any available spots are open. Some of our rides may have waiting lists to be able to join the group.