Pedaling forward to “Wow Rides” (2010)
Eight State Scenic Bikeway routes proposed
Nominated by local supporters, the bikeways were selected because they represent “the best of the best bicycle rides in all of Oregon,” says Alex Phillips, OPRD state bicycle recreation coordinator. “These rides offer some of the most fantastic scenic views Oregon offers. I call them Wow Rides.”
The “wow” views include peaks in the Cascade, Wallowa, Strawberry and Blue mountains, plus sights of lava flows, covered bridges, pastoral countryside settings and refreshing rivers best enjoyed from the seat of bicycle. Each route will have maps and signs marking the way, similar to Oregon’s, and the nation’s, first state-designated recreational route, the 132-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.
One of the recommended routes is named for McKenzie Pass, the road (Oregon 242 ) it follows over the Cascade Mountains for 40 miles between Sisters and McKenzie Bridge. The mountain views and lava flow remnants at the pass’ summit contrast sharply with the Dorena Lake Loop not far to the west. This 23-mile loop offers peaceful pastoral scenes along southern Willamette Valley backs roads between Cottage Grove and Dorena Reservoir.
The other proposed bikeways are east of the Cascades.
- Camp Sherman–a network of five, 17 and 21-mile loops passing through Camp Sherman near Sisters in central Oregon;
- Sisters-Smith Rock–a 44-mile linear route between Sisters and Smith Rock State Park;
- Twin Bridges Loop— a 32-mile loop ride on back roads between Bend and Tumalo, with a stretch passing Tumalo State Park;
- Old West–a 199-mile loop connecting John Day, Prairie City, Dayville and Kimberly and offering views of the Strawberry Mountain range and the 2011 Park-a-Year, Bates State Park;
- Blue Mountain Century–a 108-mile loop in the Blue Mountains, linking Heppner, Ukiah and Vinson.
- Grand Tour–a 130-mile, figure-eight route passing Catherine Creek State Park and linking La Grande, Union and Baker City.
Final designation of the routes as state scenic bikeways is subject to the approval of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission.
More information about the scenic bikeway program is available at www.oregonscenicbikeways.org , including the step-by-step designation process outlined in the online Oregon Scenic Bikeway handbook. The Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee will accept nominations again Jan.1-March 1, 2011.