Big Fat Fun: Fatbiking on the Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast region is famous for its soaring crags, jutting capes and winding estuaries. It’s also known for its wide variety of adventure sports, from off-roading to surfing. But lately, Oregons sandy stretches are attracting a new sort of beachcomber: one on two big, fat wheels.
Fatbiking, known primarily as a snow sport, has been carving out a new path for itself in recent years — and it’s a gritty one. Turns out the same fat tires that virtually float over fresh powder also offer excellent traction on sand, allowing two-wheeled adventurers to boldly go where no bike has gone before: to the gravelly shorelines and the wind-whipped sand dunes of the Oregon Coast.
Where to ride
The North Coast offers some nice, low-key riding areas near towns, such as the Clatsop Spit beaches north of Seaside, with lots of viewpoints and attractions. In the middle of the coastline, between North Bend and Florence, you’ll find the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, with more than 40 miles of beach and dunes.
And another real sweet spot for sand riding is the lower third of the coastline, south of Coos Bay. This region offers your choice of tempting open spaces and remote beaches that are perfect spots for testing out a fatbike, and, thanks to the South Coast’s microclimate, the weather is also notably milder and warmer than that of the rest of the shoreline. If you’re lucky, you might pick a day with skies that are more bright than brooding — but even in wet conditions, the South Coast’s temperatures are usually mild enough for year-round riding.
So, are you ready to put some fat wheels to the test?
For some great dune shredding, head to the southern section of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, near Coos Bay, and check out the area not open to off-highway vehicles. You’ll find vast sections of sandy piles perfect for sinking your tires into. (But don’t worry — you won’t sink too deep.)
If it’s hard-packed oceanfront sand you’re after, find any extended stretch of shoreline and get moving. Belts of sand can be found near almost any coastal town, but the beaches north and south of Bandon are an awesome starting point for a beginning fatbiking excursion, since Bandon’s South Coast Bicycles is one of the only shops in the state that offers fatbike rentals.
And although we’re stoked on coastal riding, don’t fret if you can’t make it all the way to the ocean — fantastic sand can also be found in Central Oregon at the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes, the Northwest’s largest inland shifting dune system. For a trek out to Christmas Valley, you can rent fatbikes at Hutch’s Bicycles in Bend.
Still having a hard time wrapping your mind around riding a bike on sand? Just think of it as really, really, really tiny gravel. Then hop your fat steed and get coasting!
For more information about the areas above, check out these resources:
- Bureau of Land Management Christmas Valley Sand Dunes webpage (or download a PDF brochure)
- Forest Service Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area webpage
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