City Escape: Eugene, Oregon

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

This loop southwest of Eugene includes forests, rivers, lakes, state parks, and stirring views of the Pacific Ocean. Southwestern Oregon is filled with stunning scenery and this escape is a good sampler of what the region has to offer. This ride is best taken from late spring through early fall, and you should always prepare for unexpected turns in the weather here.

Length

Approximately 172 Miles

Meet-up Spot

The Original Pancake House, 782 E. Broadway, Eugene, OR

Lunch Stop

Waterfront Restaurant and Lounge offers a pleasing variety of burgers, seafood, and pizza. Find it at 351 Riverfront Way, Reedsport, OR, (541) 271-1080.

Scenery (5 out of 5) 

The palette of colors in this region is as varied and vivid as you’ll find almost anywhere. Miles of tarmac lined with evergreens and water coursing and pooled in striking arrays.

Traffic (4 out of 5) 

Traffic is generally moderate on this route, although Highway 101 can be busy, depending on the time and day of the week. 

Difficulty (4 out of 5) 

This is a reasonably easy and relaxing ride. There are only four stretches of highway that comprise the entire loop. As always, watch for wildlife.

Road Conditions (4 out of 5) 

These southern Oregon roads are usually in great shape. The state does a good job with signage, guardrails, and roadway maintenance. There are a few places on the coastal stretch where sand can be present.

 

Points of Interest

  1. Fern Ridge Lake

    This large reservoir is visible from the route, but it’s also worthy of a stop. Its expansive wetlands offer some fantastic viewing of waterfowl and other wildlife. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that over 250 species of birds visit the wetlands throughout the year. www.tinyurl.com/fernridgelake

  2. Siuslaw River Bridge

    You’re going to ride over this bascule bridge on the escape route. Designed by Conde McCullough, opened in 1936, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, it’s one of several notable bridges along the Oregon coast. www.tinyurl.com/siuslawriverbridge

  3. Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

    This coastal park features two miles of sand dunes and two natural freshwater lakes on its 515 acres. Favored activities at the park are walking the trails, whale-watching, and simply catching some rays on the beach. www.tinyurl.com/Jessiemhoneyman

  4. Cascades Raptor Center
    
A dose of fascinating natural science is a great way to cap off a ride. Open year-round, the Cascades Center is a raptor rehabilitation facility, featuring nearly 50 birds of prey in outdoor aviaries. Stop by for an intimate look at some impressive creatures. www.cascadesraptorcenter.org