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Do you have plenty of time and want to add spice to your Pacific Coast bike tour?  If so, here is a route that bypasses a mostly inland section of the Pacific coast route in southern Oregon.  This route has MUCH LESS TRAFFIC than the coastal route and offers spectacular rivers, waterfalls, and mountains.  Best of all the route goes on the rim drive at Crater Lake.  About 80% of the bypassed coastal route is miles inland with no ocean views.  The only truly scenic sections that this route bypasses are the 3-mile Bandon beach loop and 25 coastal miles from Port Orford to Gold Beach.

This route leaves the coast at Reedsport and follows the Umpqua river upstream into the high Cascades, topping out at 7500 feet elevation on the Crater Lake rim drive.  Then the route goes down the Rogue river to Grants Pass, and across the Siskiyou mountains to return to the coast at Otter Point recreation area just north of Gold Beach.  The route climbs up to 7500 feet elevation on the Crater Lake rim drive and the return to the coast climbs up to 4600 feet elevation in the Siskiyou mountains.  You can bypass the last climb by taking US 199 from Grants Pass (Oregon) to Crescent City (California).  The Umpqua-Crater-Rogue route is all paved except for 2.6 miles of level well-graded gravel.  The state highways on this route have much less traffic than US 101 on the coast.  The route from Elkton to Glide is mostly on no-traffic county roads, and the route from Grants Pass to Gold Beach is mostly on no-traffic National Forest roads.  Most of the route is sparsely populated with abundant opportunities for free camping.

This route connects the Pacific Coast bike route to the new Sierra Cascades bike route.  The road through Crater Lake is only open from early June to early October.

Wayne Estes
Oakland, Oregon

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