Liberty Road lived up to its name yesterday. Heading south from Salem, every mile was liberating me with the chance to roll on some country roads. This kind of ride is my favorite: long, winding two-lane roads with little traffic and generous scenery. The views in this part of Oregon stack up pretty well against any other place in the Pacific Northwest. This is a destination ride that is worth your time to get here and experience it for yourself.
In exchange for a tiny bit of climbing on Liberty Road, you're at the top; prepare yourself for a view that astounds you. At that point the road takes a long, easy descent down to the valley floor. Right now you'll see a combination of lush green textures dotting the whole area. Wetlands, farmlands, vineyards, large stands of oaks, maples, pines, and firs. Just beyond are the foothills of the Cascade and Coast Ranges, each with a new coating of spring snow that will help keep this basin green through the summer months. One of the most important aspects of this part of the valley is the role it has in supporting the wildlife that migrate in and through this area.
At the bottom of Liberty Road you’ll be at the edge of the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. It’s one of three protected areas in what is called the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which hosts all kinds of critters, some who live here all year, and others who are just passing through. Today I was one of the vagabond critters, just visiting, before making the rest of my journey. Just like the other travelers that belong to the animal kingdom, I will return here. This place is indeed...a refuge.