Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Low traffic loop to the Aufderheide



A year ago, I took the Boltbus to Eugene, OR to ride the famous Aufderheide forest road (FS 19). It's a very low traffic paved byway thru the Willamette forest, about 60 miles long. It's reported to be one of the best bike rides you can experience anywhere. Most people get a shuttle to ride it, which eliminates the "transit" stages from Eugene on highways 126 and 58. I don't like to drive a car to ride my bike if possible, so I had planned to ride those busy highways.

Even an experienced and fearless rider will find those highways to be especially evil. For much of their length, there is very little to no shoulder. And the truck and RV traffic can be relentless. Close calls happened often when I rode the highway loop.

Once off the hellhole highways 58 and 126, the Aufderheide itself was like a green carpet of trees and ferns. An occasional car would slowly go by. What a contrast.

So I wondered; could I enjoy this road; riding from Eugene, without using those highway arterials? I used ridewithgps.com to help me find out. Turns out there are other gravel/dirt forest road options that would make this possible. I mapped out a route that included a blizzard of forest roads snaking themselves over the mountains. I downloaded the route onto my phone (iphone 6), and headed down to Eugene.

I took the folder for this ride. However, Boltbus does accept whole unfolded, bikes in the luggage hold on a space available basis. No bike box needed, but someone may lay their bike on top of yours if space is tight.

In 8 minutes I reduced it to this. I put the black bag (which has the bike, tools, and water bottles) in the hold underneath the bus. The white bag (tent, pad, sleeping bag, clothes) and the small blue saddlebags (food and etcetera) went with me to my bus seat. 


As a paying member of ridewithgps ($50/year) I get the voice guidance feature along with the offline map data. I followed the schoolmarm-like voice directions on the pleasant bikeways thru Eugene, and into Fall Creek. A harpsichord sound would alert me to turns, or if I went off course. The old lady was looking after me.

Soon enough the traffic petered out, and I found my self alone on a paved, forested road riding up a valley. Eventually, the road became gravel/dirt, and began to climb in earnest.


Still paved. Established campgrounds ahead.



Ferns, trees, birds chirping in a tranquil environment.


The start of gravel and dirt. Most of the route was easy to ride hard-pack. 


Following Fall Creek up the hill. 


I didn't see anybody for the rest of the day from here on out. The gps app gave good directions and made complicated intersections easy. I did not need to look at my paper map. I used about 50% of the phone battery using the turn by turn directions over 8 hours. 


My first camp site at hidden lake in an old growth forest. This is designated as a day use area (no toilet, fire pits, or tables) but it was a nice spot, nobody else was there, and I was too tired to move on.


A fire pit spot in a pull-out, seen on Military road.



After riding the Aufderheide road and stopping in Oakridge for food, I returned on Boundary/Military road, following the north side of the river and reservoir.  It was gravely and potholed, but almost devoid of traffic.

My second and final camp in the woods along the north side of Lookout Point reservoir.

The pavement started again at the end of forest service land. On the way back to Eugene there was a nice covered bridge....


The full route is here

It can downloaded as a GPX file, or simply added to your ridewithgps app. 

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