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Eight new routes designated as Oregon Scenic Bikeways

Posted by on September 9th, 2010 at 10:30 am

cycle oregon day 2 - heppner to Starkey

On the roads outside
Heppner, in eastern Oregon.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The State of Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department has announced eight new routes that will soon become official Oregon Scenic Bikeways. The routes criss-cross the state, from the Willamette Valley across the Cascade Range and into eastern Oregon.

The new routes — the first to be designated by the Scenic Bikeways Committee — will join the state’s sole existing official route, the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. The routes were nominated by advocates and tourism officials throughout the state who answered a call from the Parks Department. State Parks’ Bicycle Recreation Coordinator Alex Phillips said she and the committee were “looking for the best bicycle rides in all of Oregon.”

Here are details on the eight newly designated routes (descriptions taken direction from Oregon State Parks):

  • McKenzie Pass, a 40-mile linear route following Highway 242 over McKenzie Pass between Sisters and McKenzie Bridge.
  • Dorena Lake Loop, a 23-mile loop partially following an off-road path and back roads between Cottage Grove and Dorena Reservoir at the southern end of the Willamette Valley.
  • Camp Sherman, a network of five, 17 and 21-mile loops passing through Camp Sherman near Sisters;
  • Sisters-Smith Rock, a 44-mile linear route between Sisters and Smith Rock State Park;
  • Twin Bridges Loop, a 32-mile loop ride on back roads between Bend and Tumalo.
  • Old West, a 199-mile loop connecting John Day, Prairie City, Dayville and Kimberly;
  • Grand Tour, a 130-mile, figure-eight route linking La Grande, Union and Baker City;
  • Blue Mountain Century loop, a 108-mile loop connecting Heppner, Ukiah and Vinson.

According to Phillips the proponents of each new route will now follow up with management plans and marketing proposals before the State can approve the final designations.

The Scenic Bikeway program started as an idea from advocates involved with Cycle Oregon back in 2006 and became an official state program in January of 2008. It is now a partnership between Cycle Oregon, Travel Oregon, ODOT, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Learn more about the program, including how you can nominate a route, at OregonScenicBikeways.org.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Loren September 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I rode the Champoeg-Eugene route this summer, it’s a fantastic ride, but the signage could use a little improving.`For the most part it’s there, but in the beginning there’s some signs missing, and out near Stubb there’s an unmarked turn that luckily my ride mate saw the road name. The cue sheets and maps are a must. I’ll definitely ride another one of these routes in the future, they can’t be beat. Good on the parks for making this happen!

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  • Jessica Roberts September 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Will improvements be made to the routes to make them work better for bikes? Or is this just a signing program?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

    currently, this program is all about signage, maps, and marketing. But I would assume/hope that by getting the word out on them and building support for the concept that they will someday lead to bike-centric engineering improvements. It’s all about cash and political will as you know.

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  • GlowBoy September 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Most of those are great routes, but the first thing that comes to my mind is that most of these routes lack bike lanes or shoulders for most of their length.

    On some of these that’s OK due to very low traffic counts and/or moderate speeds. I wouldn’t hesitate to ride the Willamette Valley, Twin Bridges or Camp Sherman routes. But there are routes on this list that I wouldn’t consider pleasant and safe enough to be worth the bother.

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  • Charley September 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I second GlowBoy- if it’s at all a busy road without a shoulder (like the “farm roads” in Washington County that have angry cross-county commuters driving SUV’s at 55 mph, 3 feet from my shoulder) then I won’t ride it. “Shoulders” are “bike lanes.” Thanks!

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  • suburban September 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    This program will attract international tourists and educate them about how Oregon can print loads of maps and signs, and their loved ones in how there is no modern vehicular homicide law here.
    These are not cycling improvements.

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  • Jerry_W September 10, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Wow, so negative! You guys need to go ride McKenzie Pass or Dorena Loop and see what the value is here. Maybe after these rides you won’t be so grumpy.

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  • pdxbikeworm September 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Jerry_W – I just rode the Row River Trail a few weeks ago, and only realized after the fact that one could easily make a loop out of it with good, bike friendly roads surrounding the reservoir. Beautiful! Can’t wait to hit it again….

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  • suburban September 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I’ve been on those routes. These and other Oregon roads have been ridden by generations of cyclists, and are available to anyone who can turn a crank and read a map. The value of those routes has not changed.
    Oregon cycle tourists should be disappointed with this program- outrage is optional. On it’s face, one may think “Oh, Bike stuff, that’s great” but there is no “bike stuff” in any of it, just marketing.

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  • GlowBoy September 10, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Jerry_w (#8) I’m not grumpy, just realistic about cumulative risk. In fact, I just drove over McKenzie Pass last week. Spectacular. And no way in hell would I bike that road on a summer weekend.

    If we can get ODOT to announce that it’s clear and open to bikes before the official opening next spring, I *WILL* be first in line to ride McKenzie.

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  • Ron September 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I just did the Willamette Valley route last weekend and it was fantastic. Despite the concerns posted in a couple of the comments here, most of the route had bike lanes and/or sufficient shoulders. There are some stretches of low-use roads without, but mostly we felt safe. There were a few angry hillbillies driving their F350s at 273 miles per hour (Why so fast? What happens in the country that can’t wait another 4 minutes? Just saying…) But generally motorists were courteous and gave us plenty of room.

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  • Brad Ross September 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Where’s the love? I’ve riddin’ a number of those rides and they’re kickass. Give up on the bike lane S***. These routes are on country roads.

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  • angry democrat September 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    why does the state park system need a bicycle recreation coordinator? Wouldn’t the money for this position, and others, be better spent creating new state parks? In fact, I have a couple of possible parks on the coast in mind.
    I don’t want more government. I want results!

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