Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oregon's Scenic Bikeways

Twin Bridges Loop Scenic Bikeway in Central Oregon

The Oregon Scenic Bikeway System is expanding! 
Several new Bikeways have been introduced around Oregon just in recent months. They have the potential to attract thousands of two-wheeled enthusiasts each year. In a nutshell, these bikeways are to be the “best of the best;” loaded with panoramic views, as well as Oregon history and culture. Miles and miles of blissful riding on paved roads that have far less car traffic than nearby highways.
The upsides are obvious: increased tourism, bringing dollars into the local economies without choking on vehicle traffic and emissions. Once cyclists arrive to the area, they leave the cars behind and hop onto their bikes. They are in constant search of destination rides that reward their physical effort with amazing scenery and memories. After the ride, they want to enjoy some of the local fare and hospitality before heading back home. Folks around the state are hoping to attract cyclists to come see their neck of the woods. But not every route that gets proposed makes the cut; the process of getting a bikeway approved appears to be pretty involved. The panel that makes the ultimate decision uses a lot of factors to evaluate the total riding experience. I like that. Again, these bikeways are supposed to be “the best of the best.”

But do these routes really live up to the hype? Are they that much better than rides that didn't get this special designation?  I'm curious about that. Right now, in April 2012, we have nine official Oregon Scenic Bikeways, most recently the Grande Tour. I really want to experience each of them for myself.

In the Willamette Valley:
Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (Moderate/132 miles)

Central Oregon:
McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway (Extreme/38 miles)
Metolius River Loops Scenic Bikeway (Mild/up to 20 miles) 
Sisters To Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway (Moderate/35 miles one way)
Twin Bridges Loop Scenic Bikeway (Moderate/36 miles)

South of the Valley:
Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway (Mild/34 miles) 

Eastern Oregon:
Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway (Challenging/134 miles) 
Old West Scenic Bikeway (Challenging/176 miles)
Blue Mountain Century Scenic Bikeway (Extreme/108 miles)


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for writing about these! I'll look forward to your reviews!

Jessica said...

I was expecting more of them to be longer than they are. Lots of those are achievable for even me! Maybe I'll drag Eric out this summer.

The Hillbilly Banjo Queen: said...

Are there any planned for closer in to Portland? I'd love to ride some of these, but the distance to drive to them in addition to finding someone to watch my favorite little people would prove to be a challenge. I am looking forward to hearing about your review of the routes! No pressure. :)