5 Star Route / Ridden and Reviewed by DeWayneW
“Sublimity is one of the most prettily situated towns in the valley, standing upon an elevated ridge at the south end of the long range of ‘Waldo Hills’ and overlooking in every direction one of the most beautiful and fertile stretches of country the eye could wish to behold.” Oregon Statesman, New Year’s Edition, 1 Jan 1899. (Yes! That date is correct!)
Or, in my words, this ride is endless rolling hills of green that will make you think you’re in the Scottish Highlands. With each changing season, and even time of day, the fields along the route change color, so the route and views never get old. The views from the tops of the many rolling hills (and from the historical, pioneer-day cemeteries) are stunning!
There are few flat areas, but the hills rarely exceed 6%, although there are a few short 8-9% thigh burners.
The route starts out on pavement for a couple miles, then quickly turns to wonderful, rolling gravel … passing by Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery(Est. 1850) and several farms. Just after mile 6, the road becomes paved again, a sparsely travelled paved road. You pass by a huge Christmas tree farm with some great vista views of the foothills to the East. **Read More
After you cross the Cascade Highway, ~ mile 8.5, it’s more wonderful gravel, and the views only get better from here. Stop at the Union Hill Pioneer Cemetery (~ mile 12.3) to take in the views of the Willamette Valley all the way to Mary’s Peak (to the west) and Drift Creek Canyon and the hills of Silver Falls State Park (to the east).
In just over a mile, you return to pavement and head to Coon Hollow (the canyon cradling Mill Creek, at ~ mile 19) where you’ll be rubbernecking at the many shades of green hills, canyons and creeks until you reach Basl Hill, a short thigh burner.
Start heading west, back towards the town of Sublimity, on Fern Ridge where you will overlook the Santiam Canyon with glimpses of the North Santiam River below (to your left and south). One more stretch of mostly downhill gravel paralleling beautiful Mill Creek on Spenner Rd awaits before the last few miles of pavement back to Church Park, breadsticks and pizza!
There are a couple of farm dogs on the gravel before getting to Union Hill, so be prepared to stop and “shoo” them back to their yards. They stop chasing if you’re not moving.
Bring your golf discs to play 9-holes at Church Park before or after the ride. Also bring a big appetite for the pastries and amazing stuffed breadsticks and pizza at Panezanellie’s, one block from the park. Another favorite of mine is the Wooden Nickel across the street. It has the BEST BBQ!
And .. if you’ve never been to Silver Falls State park …. we recommend making of a day of it and going. A spectacular waterfall, some short hikes, and some great mountain biking. Checkout the Catamount Trail. The backcountry trails are especially beautiful, and steep! The drive from Sublimity to the park is about 20 minutes.
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop : 28 miles / 2100 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 45% gravel, 55% paved
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 15 min east of Salem, OR
– Date Posted: February 2020
Moderate-. The route is continuously rolling, but free of long sustained climbs. However, the hills will eventually slow you down, especially the last climb over Basl Hill at ~ mile 20.
When we like to ride this …
I like to ride this route whenever it’s not pouring rain since the views never get old, and the vehicle traffic is always light. It is a great mid-week or weekend ride to train or maintain for the really big rides.
Park at the Southeast corner of Church Park, where there are nice restrooms.
Lat / Long: 44.830178, -122.790973
Food / Water
None. Even on a hot day, 2 liters of water will be plenty for this route.
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
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