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Oregon motorcycling delights

5 paved roads to add to your bucket list

Oregon. Where do we begin? Simply put, it’s one of the top states in the US to ride a motorcycle. In the last decade, I’ve written several books about riding here, taken a half-dozen tour groups on multi-day jaunts around the state and run an annual motorcycle rally out of the Mt. Hood area. A freakin’ rider's paradise.

Photo: Touring across the McKenzie Highway

So what’s up with a story about 5 paved roads? Fear not, between the books I’ve written and what’s in our archive here, there’s plenty to be had already. But along the way I’ve encountered a few roads that were new to me since publishing my books. In addition, there are a few worthy of mentioning again.

Asking me what my favorite paved road in Oregon is like asking me what my favorite restaurant is. I can’t pin it to just one. So here’s my Top 5. Subject to change the next time I rip an ear-to-ear grin on another one not listed here.

I reference the Benchmark atlas here, because they’re the most accurate atlases available for the region and delineate which roads are paved (solid lines) and which are gravel (dashed).

Carpenterville Road (Benchmark p. 94)

We bumped into this one during the 2015 Sasquatch dual sport GPS adventure tour. But fear not, it’s all paved and is low traffic. If you’re struggling with depression issues, then you go ride this road and see if your attitude doesn’t change. In fact, you may wind up dealing with incontinence issues by the time you reach the other end because it will darn near have you wetting your pants it’s so fun to ride.

To get there you’ll need to go to the far southwest end of the state to Gold Beach. From there ride south on US 101 and turn left up the road which kicks in at Pistol River. Ride it through the coastal mountains north to south to where it ends just north of Brookings. Grab lunch in Brookings, then turn around and ride it south to north. So which was the better direction? That all Depends.

Lobster Valley Road (Benchmark p. 58)

This roller coaster west of Corvallis seems to get pretty good maintenance, based on how many times I’ve ridden it over the past years. Some time ago it was gravel, but today it’s just a sweet length of pavement that parallels SR 34, sometimes even just down to a single lane. Eyes up and scanning as it features a few blind corners, making it all that much more fun for a seasoned rider.

To get there, ride west from Corvallis on SR 34, then drop south on the Alsea-Deadwood Hwy. Keep right at the three-way. There are multiple pavement options to the beach rather than reconnecting to SR 34. Review your atlas.

Beaver to Willamina 7/407 (Benchmark p. 46-47)

There is no doubt, in this area SR 22 is a hoot. But perhaps you’ve done it a few times, or you’re looking to make a loop ride. This be it. From Beaver ride east on Blaine Road and continue to follow the river on the Nestucca road. Keep right, staying on the pavement using Bible Creek Road. Soon you’ll encounter some whoops and the roller coaster ride ensues down Gilbert Creek road to Willamina.

McKenzie Highway SR 242 (Benchmark p. 61-62)

Nothing like riding over a fresh lava flow. Only about 5,000 years young. Regardless of the direction of travel you choose, the ride begins in the trees and then the view opens up as you hit nature's flow. The Dee Wright Observatory is smack-dab mid-way along the route and worth stopping to explore at no additional charge. The road uses the unmarked speed limit of 55 mph, but forget it, you’ll never be able to average that due to all the fantastic corners you’ll be gliding through. The highest point is 5,500 feet and isn’t open until the snow melts on its own.

Medical Springs SR 203 (Benchmark p. 55-56)

No bucket list of Oregon’s best roads would be complete without the inclusion of the Eastern Oregon region. There’s endless miles of fun to be had out here in the boonies. The Medical Springs road is a favorite anytime and makes a nice alternate if you’re touring to and from the Hells Canyon or Pendleton Bike Week rallies. The north end begins just southeast of La Grande off I-84, while the south end clicks in just north of Baker City off I-84. Either direction is a blast. Be advised, the highest point on the route is 4,000 feet and can be rather nippy in the mornings, even in summer months.

TM/February 16


Resource links for your next Oregon Motorcycle Tour


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