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5 Oregon Dual Sport rides not to miss

A few dirt roads to add to your Oregon adventure bucket list

In our February 2016 issue, we ran an article about 5 paved rides not to miss in Oregon on a motorcycle. The article cruised along all month as the most read article and at month’s end we posted a link to it on social media – which went ballistic!

Photo: Mt. Hood from Rhododendron Ridge... or is it Mt. Jefferson?

So – if you live in Oregon, or you plan to be passing through and you ride a dual sport or adventure mount, here’s a list of five off-pavement roads you’ll want to conquer during your travels. You may not be able to snag ‘em all in one trip, but like its paved roads, Oregon is a state worthy of riding again and again.

With each road we suggest here, we’re including the page and grid point of where the roads are so you can easily ID them in a Benchmark atlas. Benchmark makes the worthiest atlases and should be a part of any dual sport rider's arsenal when planning and riding a route.

Our first three jewels are in the Oregon Cascades and we’ve included one on either side of the state to keep you on the road as long as possible.

Rhododendron Ridge, FS 6350, (Benchmark p.49, E10)

Southeast of the Portland metro lies this gem of a road just west of the Clackamas river. Its virtues include a mix of easy-to-moderate gravel which varies throughout the year. Beyond that, riders are treated to views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. In fact, sometimes you have to stop and look twice as it can get confusing as your orientation changes from one corner to the next. To the south you’ll pass Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort as you wind your way into Detroit where there is fuel and good eats.

Wolf Rock, FS 15, (Benchmark p.61, E8)

Oregon’s largest monolith is only accessible certain months of the year since getting to it requires elevation gains of 4,000+ feet. And Wolf Rock isn’t the only trophy to take home as you explore the areas around the Blue River in the Willamette National Forest. You can also check out the Three Creeks Old Growth Grove, or park the bike and hike up to the lookout on nearby Carpenter mountain.

Hot Springs maniacs take note, you can tent camp, get a room or a cabin at the nearby Belknap Hot Springs resort, which would make a good base camp if you plan to explore the area for a few days.

Windigo Pass, FS 60, (Benchmark p.73, G12)

This is a fun road with Crater Lake to the south and Crescent Lake to the North. Surface along this route varies from solid to sandy and is a nice ride for intermediate and advanced riders. You are in the high desert here, so again, this is more a late spring or summer ride as Windigo Pass is at 5,817’. But hey, roads like this is what summers are for.

Steens Mountain Loop, (Benchmark p.91, G7)

As a dual sport rider, consider this one third of the triple crown. It’s the highest road you can travel in the state of Oregon, topping out at 9,730’ on the East Rim Overlook. To complete the triple crown, you must also ride Idaho and Washington’s highest ridable points (Railroad Ridge in ID, Slate Peak in WA).

The views downward from all angles are awesome on a clear day. To the west there are views through Little Blitzen and Indian gorges, the Alvord desert lies to the east and the view into Kiger Gorge feels almost like you’re above Kauai’s Waimea Canyon.

Lodging, camping and food are all available in nearby Frenchglen to the west.

Getting here is easy riding in from SR 205. The old guard may have war stories about the quality of the road along the Blitzen/India Ridge section, but recent trips up we’ve seen much better quality of surface.

Lone Mountain Rd, County 5550 (Benchmark p.95, G8)

Back before the advent of US 199, people traveled from Grants Pass along this former wagon trail, now just a fun dirt road with some great views. At the top of the pass (no name) the road continues south into California and becomes County 316. Also a worthy ride which will eventually transport you out the US 199 at Gasquet, which is also the name of the wagon trail you just rode. Fuel is available to the north in O’Brien or south in Gasquet.

A word of caution on this one. At the California border things get a little deceiving where Wimer Road intersects. Wimer looks like a nice ride, but heed the cautionary sign. Beyond it the road gets very little maintenance and is the subject of many tall stories of woe. Be sure to continue south on County 316 and avoid the Wimer road all together.

Those of you who ride dual sport and adventure bikes in Oregon know this is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s available in the great Beaver state. It’s probably time for me to go knock out that Dual Sport Rides Through Oregon book I’ve had stored upstairs all this time.

TM/March 16

Resource links for your next Oregon Motorcycle Tour


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