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.

Shorter Routes

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.

Comments

  1. Can you provide a map with the locations where I could refill my water bottles on this ride.

  2. Independence House Bed & Breakfast offers a halfway respite for riders. I’m told the breakfasts get riders farther than expected; the wine and snacks and amiable company are welcome; and the comfortable rooms are what bicyclists are looking for. Secure bike lockup on-site. Many come back year after year. Check out the website at http://www.independencehousebb.com, then bike on in.
    Cheryl Gaston, Innkeeper

  3. Lance–
    The maps linked to each segment of the WVSB show water stops at parks, but not in other places. Hopefully, between the parks and towns along the way you’ll find enough water stops. A favorite option for me is to go into convenience stores or small groceries and use the water button on their fountain-drink dispenser. They’re typically pretty cool about it.

  4. Cyclists who want to extend their stay in the Willamette Valley can link to the Eugene, Oregon GEARS site to find over 100 detailed maps with cue sheets for rides around Eugene, Springfield and Lane County.

  5. Rode this in August 2009. A lot of fun. Wrote a story that got published in the Hillsboro Argus. Take a look:
    A slow ride through the Willamette Valley

  6. I am planning a bike tour trip from Portland to the end of this Bikeway just north of Eugene. The only two hiker/biker campsites that I am familiar with is Champoeg and a new one in Armitage. Is it true that If you show up by bike or hike in to a oregon state park that offers Auto camping that the park must provide you with a place to set camp? Otherwise, what are some options that our group (5ish) may take other than setting up a tent in a field. Thanks in advance for any help.

  7. I am not finding the link to the map in this story. Does someone have it?

  8. Hmmmm. Wanting to do this bike trip but apparently it was developed by folks who don’t do loaded touring. It doesn’t seem there are good camping options except at the beginning and end of the route. Does anyone know of any other camping options in the middle??

  9. Any suggestions for motels on route in Salem and Albany? Need directions from WES line in Wilsonville to Champoeg State Park

  10. Any camping or reasonable lodging like a hostel around Albany?

  11. Any helpful info would be great, I’m leaving on Monday am…. Thanks

    Billy

  12. A co-worker and I Just finished the trip on Monday. Rode the train from PDX tro Eugene Friday evening, biked to Armitage Park (5 miles) and camped there ($25, no bike-specific camping), rode north to the KOA near Albany/Corvallis Saturday (about 53 miles), and then to Willamette Mission State Park Sunday (about 66 miles). There is free bike camping there. If/when I do it again, I would try to keep my daily total between 40 and 50 miles. There are places to camp or find a motel along the route. I highly recommend this route.

  13. The perfect stop to park your bike, take a hot shower, refresh and refill yourself and your water bottles. And…only a few blocks to dinner! Several “top shelf” restaurants downtown.

    Enjoy the ride!

    http://www.whitebreadandjam.blogspot.com

  14. Any one have any ideas how to get from the Portland train station to the start of the ride in Champoeg? We try not to drive to the start of rides. These directions would make a nice addition to the site.
    Thanks!

  15. This is my first ride on this trail

  16. Independence House B & B is no longer operating however, there is a cottage available https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1346745 and it’s sweet!

  17. The Pfeiffer Cottage Inn is closed due to innkeepers needed to get out and ride more! However, the Comfort Suites in Albany is a great, clean and nice place to stay. Our son works there and is adorable. Tell him we said hi… his name is Steven.