An Oregon First: The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway
Oregon Scenic Bikeways are chosen with cyclists in mind: endearing historic downtowns, breathtaking scenery, and bicycle lanes where possible. Oregon’s first designated scenic bikeway celebrates the Willamette Valley, its people and its splendor. The 127-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (WVSB) travels through one of the most diverse agricultural regions on earth, and showcases the sites where Oregon’s history was made.
The Willamette Valley is a broad, alluvial valley bordered by the low, forested Coast Range to the west and by the mountainous Cascades to the east. The Willamette River meanders north through the valley, eventually flowing into the Columbia River at Portland, Oregon’s largest city. The Willamette Valley is home to the majority of the state’s population, most living in and near Portland, Salem, Albany/Corvallis and Eugene. The rest of the valley, and the state, is rural.
Whether you’re an experienced rider looking for a new challenge, or a family looking for a day ride, the WVSB offers unique and new experiences with each ride. Be prepared for rain, though. The valley is known for its wet climate. Bicyclists with good rainwear and a positive attitude can ride in the valley all 12 months. About 50 inches of rain a year falls from November through April. Snow is rare, with only a few light snowfalls per year and major snowstorms only a couple times a decade. April through November brings drier weather, lots of flowers and warm days, making them the best months to ride.
If the complete ride sounds like a lot, any section of the WVSB can be used for a day ride. Of course, we have a few favorites.
- Champoeg State Heritage Area to Willamette Mission State Park is a great 30-mile round trip. The route takes you through an agricultural have of crops, including miles of hops grown for brewing beer right here in Oregon.
- Albany to Shedd is a very flat 42-mile round trip. The route offers scenery of the coast hills, the Willamette River and the valley pastures.
- Armitage County Park to Coburg is a great 13-mile round trip ride. Coburg has a great downtown area with a picnic-perfect park and antique stores to browse.
Places to Stay
Looking to rider the WVSB at a more leisurely pace? There are many places to stay along the way that break up the ride well.
Hotels can be found in the cities and towns and along the way, including Salem/Keizer, Independence, Albany, Corvallis and Eugene.
There are also a number of spots to pitch a tent and enjoy an evening under the stars in the fresh Willamette Valley air. These campgrounds are Champoeg State Heritage Area, Willamette Mission State Park, City of Brownsville Pioneer Park and Armitage County Park.
Things to See and Do
Fruit stands spring up along the bikeway, usually opening in May and closing in October. Some of the stands are large businesses; some are set up at the edge of someone’s driveway. One fruit not well known outside of the region is the marionberry; sweet, purple, blackberry-type berries that were hybridized in Marion County, the same county that hosts much of the bikeway route. The berries ripen throughout late spring and early summer and are sold by the pound and in jams and pies. Watch for strawberries, cherries and blueberries from early- to mid-summer, followed by green beans, peaches, corn and plums. Fall brings walnuts and hazelnuts.
Many towns in the Willamette Valley have farmers markets May through October. Most markets are held on Saturdays, with a few of the larger towns hosting mid-week markets as well.
The Willamette Valley, Oregon’s leading wine region, has two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards and is home to more than 200 wineries. It has been recognized as one of the premier pinot noir-producing areas in the world.
There are unique and special stores and restaurants in many of the smaller towns, including Albany, Corvallis, Brownsville and Coburg. Stop in and say hi. You’re sure to get a warm greeting and a great story about local products.