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Ashland Loop

A twisty bit of history

Distance: 84 miles Saddle Time: 2.25 hours

Editor's note: This ride was originally published in the Sound RIDER! Guide to Motorcycling in Western Oregon in 2011. It’s a grand ride. The entire book can be purchased at https://store.soundrider.com

Your visit to Ashland begins with a loop you'll brag to all your friends about for years to come. Simply pick a good weather day and jump right in for a great ride. This loop combines several roads that raise you up from the floor of Ashland into both the western and eastern sides of the notable Siskiyou Pass.

Depart Ashland south along Main Street and follow it east, then south again along SR 66. At the junction with Old Siskiyou Road, keep to the right and follow the old road as it ascends toward the pass. Before I-5, this was the route to California. Just past mile point three, something visually odd happens. As you pass under a bridge, the road heads left, even though you need to go right. Up you go and the road continues turning, A FULL 270 DEGREES, until it loops you over the road you were just on by way of an overpass (the aforementioned bridge) that carries you west to where you thought you needed to go in the first place. It's as if you just landed in the Autopia ride at Disneyland!

All in all, you're going to gain about 5,000 feet in elevation and the only way to do that is with lots of tight corners with even more ahead. You'll note there are year-round residents living along the road, with some living as high up as 3,500 feet, which can be very chilly in the winter months.

Soon you'll pass under I-5 and connect to the road that will take you to the ski resort of Mt. Ashland. As you climb, you'll be afforded views to the southeast toward Mt. Shasta. Look too long and you may miss that next corner, so be sure to do your sightseeing sparingly at this time. But not to worry, when you reach the parking area for the ski resort, there will be plenty of the same and even better views for you.

Today's loop doesn't really appear to be a loop at all, but it is—trust us on this. More of a figure eight, if you will. Head back down the way you came and reconnect with SR 66, only this time you'll be going north. At Dead Indian Memorial Road, turn right and ride into the foothills.

The road winds upward, providing some juicy corners for you to sink your tread into. After 13 miles of this pleasure, you reach the summit and continue east along Buck Prairie Road. There are several mountain lakes around here, two of which you'll pass. If timed correctly, you can enjoy lunch at either one. Take a right toward Howard Prairie Lake and follow the road southwest. At the resort, you'll find a small restaurant and 300 camping spaces. It's a nice place to camp, but at 4,700 feet it can be a bit chilly when you wake up in the morning, regardless of the time of year.

To the southwest lies Hyatt Lake. From here, continue south and out to SR 66. See, we told ya it was a loop. Follow SR 66 down the grade west, back toward Ashland. The same kind of corners you enjoyed on the way up along Dead Indian Memorial Road are what will return you to the valley below. And before you know it, you're once again riding that same section of SR 66 north. This is the third time you've been on this road today! You must be gettin' dizzy!

This loop ride begins in Ashland at the gas station at the corner of Clover Ln and Ashland St.

TM/2011


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