Elk River

Development Route

This is a route that came to our attention via the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway published by Travel Oregon. We have not ridden or driven any sections of this route, thus the Development Route designation.

The first 3 and last 11 miles (paved) are along the Elk River, which has been designated a National Wild & Scenic River.

The combination of water, color, exposed rock surfaces, dynamic flow and relatively undisturbed environment creates an interesting and beautiful landscape throughout the year. The scenic quality of the river corridor draws on these features to create a significant value within the federally protected corridor. The lower section of the river flows through a steep canyon with exposed rock surfaces, forming an inner-gorge environment. Upstream, the gorge widens slightly, but the corridor remains very steep.

Few northwest coastal rivers exhibit the quantity of old-growth found in the Elk River basin. Wildlife species utilizing this habitat include marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and bald eagle. [National Wild and Scenic Rivers System]

Building off the 11 mile stretch of paved road along Elk River we have created a loop up and through the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest. Starting at mile 3, the route climbs 2200 feet in a bit under 6 miles for an average gradient of 7.4%.

The Elk River basin is home to a wealth of wildlife, including elk, black bear, mountain lion, black-tailed deer, norther river otter, bald eagle, red-legged frog and marbled murrelet, a rare and imperiled seabird which nests in old-growth forests along the West Coast. [Western Rivers Conservancy]

From mile 9 to 20, the route rolls up and down with equal amount of gain and loss, 1100 feet. Mile 20.5 to 24.5 is the steepest downhill section, with an average grade of descent of 7% with a loss in elevation of 1500 feet. This sector is the biggest unknown to us in building a great route.

This may be a really fun route to do on a hot day with an early start. When coming back in along Elk River, find a swimming hole to cool off in.

If you ride this, we would really appreciate feedback. What views did you get? Were there interesting element along the way? Does this route meet 5 Star criteria? Etc.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Lollipop: 39 miles / 4200 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 65% gravel, 35% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: Southern Oregon Coast
– Published: August 2020

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]


The Start

Elk River State Fish Hatchery
Lat / Long: 42.738155, -124.402362

Food / Water



Wahoo / Garmin Direct Download
Cue Sheet / GPX file / TCX file


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

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.

  • Curtis Bridgeman says:

    This is a very good ride. The Elk River (paved) part is gorgeous, especially in the winter (note that, though paved, riders have to watch for holes, cracking, and debris in the road, as it is little used). The rest is mostly forested, but with some impressive long-range views from time to time. The steep downhill stretch is a bit treacherous in spots, as the condition of that road varies a great deal. It tends to be worst when steepest. Expect very few vehicles, even on the paved road. There are port-a-potties and parking at the fish hatchery.

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Wow! Thanks for the great review. It is so great to know that this ride goes in the winter. Thanks!!

  • Dan R says:

    Did this a few months ago after getting lured to the area in-part by your ‘Agness Went Rogue’ route. This was much more fun, although I did it in the opposite direction. I’d call it a 5 star for sure.

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