Dichotomy

5 Star Route

Note: This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.

Dichotomy: “something with seemingly contradictory qualities.” Yep, that is this route!

You’ll spend the first half in Jurassic Park and the second half in Disneyland. What does that really mean? The first half is rugged, weed-whacking fun that will take some good mountain biking skills and serious determination to get you through. And the second half is classic Cadillac gravel with a bombing paved downhill to the finish, the kind of finish that will just make you giggle. We thought the route was a blast, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

This ride is for you … If you like Oregon coastal wet and green, steep climbs & descents, old school single-track, hard-packed fast gravel, and no brakes needed paved descents!

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 31 miles / 3800 ft gain (RideWithGPS under-reports the gain)
– Surface: ~ 65% gravel, 10% single-track, 25% paved
eBike Friendly: No
– Location: ~ 45 minutes west of Corvallis, OR
– Published: May 2021

Terrain & Technical Riding Difficulty[what this means]

Advanced

The terrain on the first half of the ride is coastal technical. Steep pitches up and down (well above 10%), overgrown, and possibly wet, muddy, and slippery.

There are a number of unmarked roads and intersections. Some are shown on maps; others are not. Good navigation skills are a must for this ride.

The single-track along miles 11 to 14.5 is isolated and remote. There are no nearby roads or access points; thus, a mechanical or medical condition can become a serious event.

When we like to ride this …

The route needs time to dry out. Thus, we recommend riding this mid-spring or later. We did this ride in mid-May, and it was perfect. Everything was green and lush and not too wet.

The Start

Big Elk Campground. Pit toilets. Water. We parked at one of the campsites and paid the daily fee. If parking multiple cars, leave a note on your window stating that you are paying for the use of the site for parking.
Lat / Long: 44.544017, -123.722413

Credits & Acknowledgements

Thanks to NelsonB, of the Mid-Valley Gravel Grinders Facebook group, for bringing this area to our attention through his great maps.

Legend

Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.


Ride Details

The first half of this ride is the crux! Steep, coastal technical. The second half is almost all Cadillac gravel.

Miles 0 to 6 / Weed-Whacker Hill / Primitive Dirt Road

From the start, the route rolls out along hard-packed gravel roads, until ~ mile 2.6. Here is the last house along the road and maybe a couple of dogs. For us, they were friendly but unleashed.

Just after, the road becomes a double track with a grass-filled median. Over a 2 mile stretch, the average gradient is 12%. The total elevation gain for the “weed-whacker” climb (the name will become obvious when you do the route) is 1500 feet over 3.5 miles. This is private land with recreation access granted.

Miles 6 to 11 / Weyerhaeuser Rough / Gravel

The top of the climb is marked by a Weyerhaeuser sign and the sudden openness. Most of the area has been recently logged, but this opens up great views of the Coast Range.

The Oregon Coast Range extends over 200 miles from the Columbia River in the north on the border of Oregon and Washington, south. It is 30 to 60 miles wide and averages around 1,500 feet in elevation. The oldest portions of the range are over 60 million years old.

The climate is cool, with dry summers followed by mild and wet winters. The majority of precipitation accumulates in the form of rain, with snow during the winter months at the higher elevations, but no permanent snowpack. Annual precipitation varies from 60 inches to up to 120 inches. [Wikipedia]

If you happen upon a log truck, please yield right of way by stopping and putting a foot down. Again, this is private land with recreation access granted. The Weyerhaeuser roads are the roughest and most coarse gravel roads of the day.

Miles 11 to 14.5 / C2C Trail / Primitive Single Track

The Corvallis to the Sea (C2C) trail sector begins just after mile 11 with a left across two graded berms. The trail is old school, Jurassic Park, single track. Narrow, grassy, almost grown over. However, the brush along the old road was cut back significantly to yield a clear path. The trail is mostly down and steep (8 to 12%), but there is one tough, short uphill. Be warned; there are several drainage ditches cut perpendicular to the trail. Coming into one of those unaware and at speed could be bad.

The Corvallis to the Sea Trail (C2C) is a 60-mile hiking and biking trail through the Oregon Coast Range that connects the Heart of the Willamette Valley with the Central Oregon Coast. The trail is located within the traditional homelands of the Ampinefu or Marys River Band of Kalapuya, Wusi’n or Alsea People, and the Yaqo’n or Yaquina People. [Corvallis to the Sea Trail]

Miles 14.5 to 20 / Gopher Creek / Gravel Roads

Exiting the single track, you pop unexpectedly onto a gravel road. The next 6 miles are “flattish” and fast; the gravel is hard-packed, the woods are thick and green around you. The road follows Gopher creek; however, it will not be evident at first. Along the way, you come to a couple of out-buildings that border both sides of the road. There was a “No Trespassing” sign that hints that the ride is private. It is not; the road is public! And there’s just a touch of pavement in the middle of nowhere.

Miles 20 to Finish / NF 31 / Paved

At mile 21.5, the road begins to climb, nothing like at the beginning of the route but enough to capture your attention. The road climbs, rolls, and then climbs. Most of the climb is paved.

Just before mile 26, the route tops out. Get ready for a fun, sweeping downhill for 4 miles at a 4% average gradient. The road then transitions back to gravel, and it is an easy spin back to the start.

Food & Water

None.

Ride Notes

40 mm tires or larger. We recommend larger, especially if the ground is moist and soft, but a strong technical and fit rider will manage with 40 mm tires. For our group of four, we all had tires of 50+ mm.

Do this ride with long socks and long arms. The brush in the first half will reach out and grab you, and some of it is stinging nettles. With proper protection, you will not have a problem.

The RideWithGPS elevation summary under-reports the total elevation. The total gain for the day will be 3800 to 3900 feet.

We recommend riding the route in the direction mapped. Riding the single track in the opposite direction would be very, very demanding.

Miles 3 to 10 are on private logging properties (Hancock Forest Management and Weyerhaeuser). Access is permitted for biking but not for motorized vehicles. Also, if the roads are posted closed due to logging activities, please respect this request. It is better to find another ride for the day than to lose access to these lands for riding. If you encounter a logging truck during the ride, we highly recommend stopping and putting a foot down to let the truck pass safely.

Ride Options

There are two bail-out points. The first, just before the start of the single-track, the second, at the end of the single-track. For each of these bail-outs, proceed north and intersect the original route in ~ 2 miles.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

Gravel Girl / Team Dirty Freehub

She loves a good day of gravel like most people like a good book. She’s always amused by the outdoors and the wild adventures. Gravel Girl is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Captain O / Team Dirty Freehub

He should have “Never Stop Exploring” tattooed on his chest! He loves adventures on bikes and is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Comments

Revision History

Get Involved!

This route would not be possible without the Corvallis to the Sea (C2C) Trail connector and the recreation access granted by Hancock Forest Management and Weyerhaeuser.

(a) We encourage you to take a moment and learn more about the C2C Partnership and their work.

(b) We also encourage you to call Hancock Forest Management (503-838-1610) and write a quick email to Weyerhaeuser (northwestadmin@weyerhaeuser.com) expressing your support for recreational land use by bicycles. (Use the term bicycles not bikes, bikes can be mistaken to mean motor bike.)


The Ride!

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