A few weeks ago I was playing around on mtbproject.com and just looking for new stuff to ride. I panned out on the Coast Range and saw a series of rides that connected into a couple potential loops starting from a few different spots. Turns out they weren’t mountain bike trails but a series of gravel roads that a guy out of Corvallis had submitted to the website.
I combined a couple options on Ridewithgps.com and sent it to a few friends to see if anyone wanted to go see what it was like. I sold the idea with the caveat that we might get lost and I had no idea what the conditions were like and if the roads actually connected. I could only go on what I read on mtbproject.com. I had a couple takers on the idea so that was good. It is generally nice to have companions on exploratory rides just in case things go sideways.
I had wanted to start at Ft Hoskins from the Kings Valley side but was talked out of having almost 14 miles of overlap on the course. Instead we started at Moonshine Park and only had about 5-6 miles of overlap. Also shortened the ride from just over 60 miles to just over 42 miles.
The start at Moonshine Park is “only” about 100 miles from my house but WOW is it not exactly easy to get to. It was almost two and a half hours to get there but it was totally worth it in the end.
The park itself is pretty sweet for a starting point for a ride. It has day use parking, campsites, bathrooms with running water and showers. Plus a nice little beach and swimming area along the Siletz River.
The whole concept of this ride would fulfill several of my needs. My wanderlust, exploring new areas, an abandoned town and riding my bike!
The ride would bring us out to Valsetz, OR an abandoned logging town. The only thing left that we could find was the foundation of the mill itself. Along the way we’d encounter pretty much every type of gravel surface you can think of from smooth and fast to super chunky.
Once you leave Moonshine Park you’re climbing for quite some time. You barely notice the grade for the first few miles as you follow the Siletz and only hit a couple sections that I can define as actual hills, none of which last very long in my opinion.
Miles 7-14 roll up and down before starting to climb back up gently for almost 7 more miles to Valsetz.
As we came into Valsetz proper and the remnants of the old mill building we saw another group of cyclists having lunch. Turns out one of them was Nelson, the guy who created the various routes that we combined into our loop. They had come up from the Ft Hoskins side and were doing a roughly 40 mile loop on the east side of the valley.
It was nice to be able to chat with the guy who actually took the time to come out here and create these rides. I can tell you that it would have been difficult to piece this ride together without his gps tracks or some actual on the ground knowledge.
From mile 21-28 is mostly flat with one quick uphill followed by a ripping downhill around mile 24. After that it is a nice consistent downhill with one short climb and steep downhill tossed in around mile 33-34.
I can’t remember what mile marker this car accident was at. It wasn’t too far from the end…maybe mile 36. I’m really curious to hear what the hell happened here. Our made up story was that they must have been hauling ass downhill, this bridge is maybe a hundred or so yards after a corner and comes into a single lane bridge. It looks like they hit the left concrete edge of the bridge and then we think while trying to back up slid to the left and down the embankment.
There is ZERO cell coverage out here. We had a signal about 8 miles later. That’s a long walk if someone had to call for help on this one. It looks like the car had been there for a few days at least.
I want to say thanks to Mark and Spencer for heading out with me to explore this part of Oregon. It’s a beautiful area to explore. The idea of using Moonshine Park as a base of operations for more rides is appealing too. We saw multiple off shoots that just beg to be explored out there.
The route can be found here. I would never describe this route as “epic” (which is way over used anyways). However it is beautiful and the river has a calming affect. There is some automobile traffic to deal with off and on. For the most part it is fisherman (fisher-people) but you can also get to both the Drift Creek hike or Valley of Giants hike from here too. Just be careful taking corners and keep your eyes and ears open and you should be okay.
Before the long meandering drive home we hit up the Logsden Country Store which is just what I needed for something salty and a drink. It’s a bit sparse inside but has your basic corner store items. I also got to pump my own gas! I don’t even have any special training.
Thanks for reading,