Day two on the ‘People’s Coast’ – Getting off the highway

People's Coast Classic - Day Two-51

I found this fun trail near Boiler Bay.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s ride was all about what happened off Highway 101.

The 50 or so riders on the People’s Coast Classic woke up early from an RV Park campsite on the outskirts of Tillamook to tackle an 80+ mile route that took us all the way south to Newport. Along the way, we sampled some prime (as in, off the highway) sections of the Oregon Coast Bike Route. Even with one of the three capes of the legendary Three Capes Scenic Route closed due to a landslide (some chop-happy loggers clear-cutted a section of forest right above the road and there was a landslide as a result), the route was still something I won’t soon forget.

Netarts Bay Road was an early-morning treat. The pelicans and sea gulls far outnumbered the humans…

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Then, as we approached and rolled past Cape Lookout State Park, we sampled some of the finest roads on the Oregon Coast Bike Route. I’m not sure who has jurisdiction over Cape Lookout Road (is it Tillamook County or ODOT?), but it was fantastic to ride on. It had a well-marked bike lane that averaged at least five feet wide and it led to a splendid 2.6 mile climb that was made even better by early morning mist and costumed cheerleaders at the top yelling, “We love you! You are awesome!”

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Our descent to Sandlake Road opened up into a wide valley that reminded me of a, well, lake of sand. Dunes on both sides made for a breathtaking view. After the dunes, the Three Capes Scenic Route continued through a pastoral valley…

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A few rolling hills later, with ocean waves breaking just off our handlebars, we rolled down into the sweet little surfing town of Cape Kiwanda. I usually get irked by debris in bike lanes, but in Cape Kiwanda the bike lanes are filled with sand and I didn’t mind it one bit…

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After Cape Kiwanda we made our way back to Highway 101. I dreaded it; but when I got there I found a freshly paved road with a wide shoulder that was smooth and free of debris. Kudos to ODOT for this fantastic stretch of the highway. It makes a world of difference to those of us on bicycles…

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So pleasant! So civilized! (Of course, an off-highway cycle path would be ideal, but this is not too shabby by American standards.)

Then came our first detour off Highway 101, and one of my favorite discoveries of the summer: Slab Creek Road (a.k.a. National Forest Road 12, a.k.a. Neskowin Scenic Drive). This 10 mile diversion is a relatively carfree, riding paradise. It follows Neskowin Creek through lush forests and it treated us to a grin-inducing descent after a good solid climb…

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Back on Highway 101 was a definite buzz-kill. It’s amazing to me that ODOT allows such a contrast of facilities on the Oregon Coast Bike Route. Some parts are all but inhospitable to anyone not in a car or RV; while other sections are sublime. I wish they’d realize that the quality of a route is only as good as it weakest section. One of the biggest problems I see out here is how ODOT treats bridges. Most of the time, the shoulder (a rider’s refuge) vanishes. In Lincoln City I was on a small bridge, taking the lane as it was my only option, and a person drove mere inches from me. It was very scary…

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As I rolled south, taking advantage of the very strong tailwinds, I spotted a trail leading into the woods near Boiler Bay. Luckily, I have a bike that is sure-footed off-road, so I did a bit of exploring and I found what looked like a brand new singletrack into the forest along the highway. It was only 3/4 of a mile or so, but is was so much fun!

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The Otter Crest Loop was another memorable diversion we enjoyed today. The road begins near Rocky Creek State Park and continues for several miles, passing the iconic Ben Jones Bridge and the Cape Foulweather Lookout, a must-see tourist stop. What sets Otter Crest apart is its dedicated bike lane and one-way (southbound) for drivers…

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As I rolled south for the final miles of today’s journey, I noticed some of the sharrows that the City of Newport recently laid down. They’re OK, but many of the places they put they put them seem unnecessary given the very low traffic volumes and ample width lane to work with…

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The finale of the day was crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. It’s another hair-raising bridge for those of us on bicycles. Some folks took the lane, but I opted for the sidewalk because it was there and I figured it’d be easier to stop and snap photos…

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Tonight we’re sleeping in the shark tank of the Oregon Coast Aquarium (seriously).

Thanks for following along on my trip. You can view all my photos from day two in the gallery. And let’s give a big round of applause and thanks to our News Editor Michael Andersen for holding down the fort while I’m away. Thanks Michael!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Tom M
Tom M
10 years ago

It’s rides like this or even a simple ride down the Springwater like I did yesterday that remind me that I now live in a great place to ride a bike. No, it’s not perfect. Yes it is still a work in progress and always will be. But by comparison to many areas of the country, this is Bike-vana.

And to think so many people have no idea what’s only a day trip or less away.

Now to get a better job and more time to bicycle…

10 years ago

Tough gig. I suppose this trip also counts toward your bicycle commute challenge tally.

10 years ago

Great photos as always, Jonathan. Sorry you didn’t get to ride over Cape Meares due to the landslide – I’ve always loved that part of the Three Capes. I wonder if you can portage it with a bike?

10 years ago

looks awesome!

10 years ago

I love your leading trail pic. Lots of good photos, thanks for sharing.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
10 years ago

Nice photos! Especially when its a hot day in the valley.

Gabriel Amadeus
10 years ago

Photos are looking great!

10 years ago

More trail shots and less road! kthxbye.

Ian Stude
10 years ago

Slab Creek Road is a real treasure. I got a chance to ride it last year during a day-ride from our visit to Neskowin. The Otis cafe at the end of Slab Creek road is quite possibly the best breakfast on the Oregon Coast. Happy riding and keep those gorgeous photos coming!

Susan Otcenas
Susan Otcenas
10 years ago

Cape Meares is still ridable. There’s a barrier on either side of the closure, but it’s passable to bikes.

8 years ago

I read another ride report of riding through the closure on Cape Meares:

Is this safe with the landslide risk, especially after we have had a little rain??? I would love to do this ride this week. What do you think?

Gabriel Amadeus
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna

Yup, the situation hasn’t changed! We rode it a few weeks ago and it’s great for bikes.