Moon Moss is a “pinch me” route … you really won’t believe it. Especially if you are lucky enough to be there when the bear grass is blooming (big white flowers) along Warner Ridge; we have never found another place with such lush, thick bear grass. Combine that with the Warner Mountain lookout, which provides an eagle’s view of the whole area; Juniper Ridge, which has lovely views of the surrounding peaks; and a visit to Moss Mountain, which just the name alone makes us laugh. And of course, you also get to see Moon Point.
Oakridge is a tricky place to ride. You go up; you come down. Steep routes that often drop 4,000 feet on gravel roads, enough to make your hands hurt from squeezing the brakes. On this route, you climb up and up …hug a ridge … and then mosey back down, with a good chunk of elevation loss on a sweeping paved road. We worked hard to take the bite out of the downhill portion of this route.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
Moderate. Due to: (a) several short, steep pitches up and down above 6%, (b) the remote nature of part of the ride and, (c) limited cell phone reception.
When we like to ride this …
Mid-summer on a sunny day when the flowers are in full bloom.
Pull out just past the bridge at intersection of NF 2127 and NF 21. You can also park at several dispersed camping spots along the river, look to your right as you cross the bridge.
Lat / Long: 43.539477, -122.448199
Food / Water
Note, that the “downtown” of Oakridge is not along the highway. It is just north of the highway by several blocks. There is pub and a bistro in town.
And if you’re looking for a bike shop, consider Oregon Bike Shop and Willamette Mountain Mercantile.
Ride Details**Read More
Miles 0 to 7 / Moon Point Climb / Gravel
From the start, at the bridge over the Middle Fork of the Willamette river, head south for approximately 1 mile on NF 21, paved. It is flat, easy, and you’re warm-up. Turn left [mile 1.0] onto NF 2129, gravel. The pitch immediately kicks up. Get ready to climb 2700 feet in just over 6 miles, an average gradient above 7.5%.
The Middle Fork Willamette River is one of several forks that unite to form the Willamette River in the western part of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is approximately 115 miles (185 km) long, draining an area of the Cascade Range southeast of Eugene, which is at the southern end of the Willamette Valley. [Wikipedia]
The road is hard-packed, pea gravel. You’re mostly in the cover of forest, alternating between young growth forest of less than 20 years old and mid growth forest of 40+ years. To the side of the road, there are grasses, daisies,[micro-video] and lupines. At mile 5.4, look up and directly down the road, you will see Youngs Rock and then just a bit later will be Moon Point (the reddish rock monolith left of Youngs Rock).
At mile 6.6, there is a sweeping right turn, look back: this will give the best view of the day of Moon Point. From here, the forest opens up with views to the west, and the climb is just about complete.
Miles 7 to 16 / Warner Mountain / Gravel
Just after mile 7, the grade flattens, and you enter a fast section of forested road. Enjoy these 2 miles. At mile 9, the grade kicks up again, for the second half of the climb. 1000 feet of gain, in just under 3 miles, at an average grade of 6.5%. The first and last third are moderate at less than 6%. The middle third[micro-video] is above 8%.
At mile 12.8 is the turn to Warner Ridge Lookout. Take it! Refuel at one of the picnic tables at the lookout. Maybe even climb to the top to visit with a Forest Service Ranger if they are on duty.
Warner Mountain lookout sits on a high vantage point of Warner Ridge at an altitude of 5,300 feet approximately 75 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon. The lookout towers over forest cover of noble fir, mountain hemlock and silver fir at the crest of Warner Mountain. [US Forest Service]
Continue when ready, heading east. The route rolls up and down for the next 6.5 miles, gaining 650 feet, losing 600 feet. The mountain views continue along with an abundance of flowers [mid-July].
Miles 16 to 25 / Juniper Ridge / Gravel
At mile 16, go right onto NF 2120: this is Juniper Ridge. The first 2+ miles are a bit of let down from what you just rode through. Young forest with limited views. But … at ~ mile 19 it gets really good again. Big views of Diamond Peak[micro-video] with some lesser views of Mt Thielsen and Bailey Peak.
Mount Thielsen is a dramatic horn-shaped peak located in the Southern Oregon Cascades just north of Crater Lake. The peak rises abruptly from its surroundings to a very distinct spire. Its north and east faces are most impressive, towering 2200 feet upward in a near vertical fashion. Mount Thielsen is said to be struck by lightning more often than any other High Cascade peak, earning it the nickname the lightning rod of the Cascades. [SummitPost.org]
For the next 6 miles, you ride the ridge down, losing 1200 feet. The road undulates and flattens periodically, never requiring heavy braking like a lot of the Oakridge descents.
Mile 25 to 33 / Swift Creek / Gravel (mostly) to Paved
Just after mile 25, connect with NF 23 a double lane, hard-packed gravel (pea size) road: this is the Swift Creek sector. The route follows the creek for the next 8 miles, crossing over the creek twice. Several smaller streams (Moss, Baboon, Chako) flow into Swift creek and are a worthy stop if you are looking for a break.
The next 6 miles are the most demanding descending miles of the day. Some grades over 8%, some washboard. Just after mile 31, the gravel gives way to a paved single lane road with pullouts. The tree cover is thick, the sightlines are limited, and shadows abound. Use a bit of caution on this fun riding section.
Miles 33 to Finish / Willamette River / Paved
At mile 33, NF 23 merges into NF 21: this is a double lane paved road that follows the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. The grades are gentle, with the road losing 900 feet of elevation over 10 miles. Spinout the legs and get ready for a dip in the river and a beer!
If you need a bit more challenge or 11 miles of pavement is not to your fancy, drop into the Middle Fork of the Willamette single-track bike trail just before mile 35, at the Sacandaga campground. Follow this to the finish.
40 mm tires are more than adequate for this ride.
We recommend a red blinky safety light for the paved sector of the ride. We particularly like those with a rear looking radar.
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.