Tour the Oregon Coast
As we hit the prime days of summer riding weather – which, in Oregon, are really late summer and early fall – it’s time to think about that epic coastal ride you’ve maybe had in the back of your mind for a while. While Oregon has a stunning variety of terrains and landscapes to ride, in the end a ride along the coast is a classic that will never go out of style.
The Oregon Coast Bike Route, a 370-mile jaunt from border to border, is one of the most spectacular stretches of road in the United States, displaying countless scenic panoramas, hitting legendary spots while also unveiling some hidden gems that are off the normal tourist path.
The route is mapped and signed by Oregon Department of Transportation; see below for a link to the official map, which is detailed and includes camping resources (including designated bike-camping locations). Of course, there are plenty of options for credit-card camping as well – motels, lodges, B&B’s…
A few things to consider if you want to experience this coastal journey. First is that you don’t have to do it all at once. With the detailed mapping available, it’s easy to hop on and off at any point that makes sense for your schedule. Pick your segment, make your plans, and go. September is an optimal time to check it out, because tourist traffic on the roads drops off after Labor Day.
Second, it’s typically best ridden north to south, to take advantage of normal wind patterns; going south to north is a harder ride – although that’s not to say it’s an easy ride. Study that map carefully so you know when you’re going to be climbing up over a cape, or on the shoulder of a mountain. There are significant climbs involved at certain points, so be sure you’re ready to take them on whether you’re riding light or fully loaded.
There are also some bridge crossings, tunnels and narrow shoulders, so if you’re not comfortable riding in highway traffic, you might want to select a section that’s off Highway 101 (the Three Capes section west of Tillamook and the Seven Devils area north of Bandon veer off Highway 101 for significant stretches).
Not that we want to scare you off… pedal the coast and you’ll enjoy the quiet seclusion of Otter Crest Loop, the back streets of Newport, and the lighthouse loop at Winchester Bay. The southern coast is, in many people’s minds, even more spectacular than the northern stretches – and far less populated. There are so many highlights along the way.
If you have the chance, you should ride the coast.
Find the official ODOT map of the Coast Route here.