South Coast 2022

Reach the Redwoods - Newport to Jedediah Smith SP

Start Date: 
Monday, October 10, 2022
Number of Days: 
Total Miles: 

10 years ago I bought the Soma Saga and rode the north coast. Now I’m finishing the ride. 

Here is what I wrote for the MVBC Spin

Reach the Redwoods - 6 days down the coast in October

by Paul Lieberman

I've always maintained that September/October has the best weather on the coast. Then last October the forecast was showing a solid week of sunny days. It was my chance to finish my tour of the Oregon Coast. I did the northern half of the coast in 2012. You can read about that one here. Then I did it again on Loop Tour 2019, but I had still never ridden my bike south of Cape Perpetua. 

I love doing Loop Tour and other tours with the club. Anything you love to do is better when you do it with friends. But I also like to tour solo. I like to be free to set my own pace, not have to stick to a schedule, and be free to alter course on a whim. I also find I meet a lot of great people when I tour solo. On this tour I met several young people who were doing their first tour, and one guy who said he's been touring non stop for 10 years. They were all continuing down the coast to California. 

I decided to take the afternoon bus to Newport on Oct 10, and camp at South Beach SP.  It had been foggy in the valley but I wasn't sure about the coast. Sure enough it was thick wet fog in Newport. My bike and the outside of my gear was very wet when I took it off the bus. I had kind of expected this, but the forecast still looked good for the rest of the week. Camping at the hiker/biker site at South Beach was fine. Sheltered enough by the shore pines.

There is more than one way to do every tour, but the Oregon Coast lends itself to staying at the hiker/biker sites in the state parks. For $8 you get a great place to camp, a hot shower, and most of them now have lockers with USB charging stations. Hard to beat for a bike camper.

Day 1 - South Beach SP to Honeyman SP - 53 miles

I knew this was going to be a long day, but I had to achieve escape velocity. If the weather turned bad I might have headed right home from Waldport. But the weather was perfect. Sunny and warm with a brisk tailwind! Many people are hesitant to ride the coast because of the traffic and, in some places, the narrow bike lane. The diciest parts of the whole coast are on the stretch between Yachats and Florence. Here you have very twisty climbs over Cape Perpetua and then Haceta Head. Certainly the traffic is not as bad in October as in the summer, but there were still plenty of RVs out and about. But the traffic has to go really slow around these curves anyway, so really it was not a problem. I just took as much room as I needed and people seemed content to say behind me until it was safe to pass. Still it can be exciting to be hugging the guard rail on the right, with a hundred foot drop to the rocks and surf below, while the big RVs scoot by a foot or so to your left. But needless to say the views were spectacular.

Day 2 - Honeyman to Tugman SP - 34 milles

Another sunny day with a tailwind!  I was now in the world famous Oregon Dunes.  I didn't realize just how far south the dunes went. I'd be riding through them for the next 2 days. South of Florence the road was wider with a nice wide bike lane. Then came a pretty good climb as I got closer to Reedsport. At the top I was saddened to see smoke which was drifting down the Umpqua drainage from the Cedar Creek fire. I guess that's part of life now living in the great north woods. I was hoping it wouldn't be too bad once I got back down to the coast. Reedsport however was terrible. Not only was it smoky but it was hot, maybe close to 80. I needed to get some food so I spent more time here then I wanted.  Once I got out of down and closer to the beach it was fine.

Anyone who rides the coast route needs to be sure to follow the bike route when it leaves highway 101. These are the best parts of the route. They also tend to be more hilly, but it's a fair tradeoff. Leaving Reedsport the route leaves 101 and heads to Winchester Bay. After that is a very scenic, but steep climb up to the Umpqua Lighthouse, and then past the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. They have hiker/biker camping there so I stopped to check it out. It was quite nice in some big trees but it was still early and I wanted to make it farther down the coast. After the campground the road climbs again back up to 101.  About here is where you enter the lake country.  There are so many lakes along this part of the coast.

Day 3 - Tugman SP to Bullards Beach - 43 miles

Another sunny day with a tailwind! My luck was really holding.  Except for that really intimating long bridge up ahead coming in to North Bend. Once again it looked scarier than it really was. I lucked out and had a school bus behind me that made no attempt to pass and just followed at a distance at bicycle speed. Just as 101 enters North Bend the bike route takes off to the west and follows a very scenic route past Coos Bay. October being Coffeenuring season I was always on the lookout for good espresso stands. The best one I found was the Espresso Mill and Bakery just as your coming around the bay and heading south.  Highly recommended. Then the road went through some nice beach houses before heading up into the woods again. This was a pretty challenging climb. It went on for some time. It was like being up in the coast range. Lots of logging. This was a peninsula between the South Slough of Coos Bay and the ocean. Eventually the road dove down again before rejoining 101 for a few mile to Bullards Beach.

Day 4 - Bullards Beach to Humbug Mountain - 41 miles

Another sunny day! But now the wind was shifting.  I stopped at Bandon Bicycle Works which is a great shop. They also lead a lot of adventure bikepacking trips on the south coast. Then a lovely Beach Loop. before getting back on the highway. Lunch at the Crazy Norwegian in Port Orford, a must stop if you've never been there. It was pretty windy in Port Orford, which is a very scenic spot on the coast.  Then it was on to Humbug Mountain. This is a very interesting geological feature. Your riding right along the coast and you see this mountain in front of you, extending all the way down to the ocean. Its hard to see how the road is going to get around it. Indeed it winds inland along a creek and eventually finds it's way around the mountain, but most of that would be the next morning. I got to the campground just in time to enjoy the warm afternoon sun before it was lost to the shadow of the mountain.

Day 5 - Humbug Mountain to Harris Beach - 51 miles

Another long day, but there was nothing to be done about it. There are no campgrounds the entire length of the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor. What there is however are the best hiking trails on the coast. I did not do any hiking on this trip but I have been here before. It wasn't as sunny today but it was still warm, especially on the climbs and today featured the longest climb of the trip up around Cape Sebastian. The grade was mellow though it was quite enjoyable. Then on to Harris Beach, on of the buisier campgrounds on the coast. 

Day 6 - Harris Beach to Jedediah Smith Redwoods - 30 miles

When I started I wasn't sure if I'd  make it to the Redwoods. I thought maybe I'd just get to Brookings. So this was a bonus day and as it was a short day I stopped for a fabulous breakfast at the Compass Rose Cafe in Brookings. Highly recommended. After Brookings I think I missed the bicycle route which looks like it may have hugged the coast for a bit longer. By now I had California in my scope and I was not slowing down. But I did stop to checkout the largest Monterey Cypress which is growing just south of Brookings. You see it from the highway. Worth a stop.  Then before I knew it I was in California. Right away I noticed the surf was better. Clean lines instead of Oregon's wild breaks. I stopped again at Ruby van Deventer County Park just as your entering the Redwoods. Then it was on to my final destination. I think the hiker/biker site at Jedediah Smith State Park was only $5, but you had to pay extra for the shower, which was hard to find and a really long way from the hiker/biker sites. In the morning Linda would pick me up on her way back from Ashland and we'd drive back up the coast, enjoying a couple of more days of fantastic weather.




Below is my log for each day of the tour. Use the navigation controls to scroll through the days .