. 2015 Weekend Message | Cycle Oregon

The Best Bike Ride in America

2015 Weekend Message

A message from our hosts:

Welcome to Polk County, home of world class mountain biking, wines and vistas. The road biking is pretty good too.

Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Polk County is close to all of the region’s major cities and attractions, yet it retains the remote feel of classic rural America. Low traffic roads wander through pastoral landscapes. Wineries, orchards, and hop yards dot the hills and lowlands, many offering a refreshing stopping point for weary travelers. Wildlife refuges, creeks and rivers offer visitors a glimpse of bountiful wildlife, complimenting the incredible bounty that comes from the region’s farms.

Polk County’s Cities offer a different environment, but are cut from the same cloth as the rest of the county. Stately historic buildings line historic downtowns with central parks that offer families the opportunity to play, shop and eat in one attractive setting. Foodies will find restaurants and bakeries offering locally-sourced food and drink which are popular with locals and visitors alike. Unique shops offer tasteful and quirky items, and everywhere you will be reminded of the meaning of “small town customer service”.

If you’re looking to stay a while, the area has several B&B’s as well as AirBnB’s, both in town and in the countryside. Willing to rough it? Independence has a campground downtown exclusively for bikers and boaters.

Interested in coming back for another ride? There are several well-described routes for all ability levels listed on RideWithGPS.com under the “Western Valley Cycling” name. “Miles of Smiles” is the Polk County alternative to the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, passing through three communities, several wineries, a lavender farm, and more. Like History? The “Ritner Creek Covered Bridge” ride winds through the hills of west Polk County passing its namesake bridge. You can supplement this ride with a stop at the Heritage Museum in Independence. Independence is named for Independence Missouri and is the end of the Oregon Trail. The Heritage Museum has a variety of exhibits and displays about the early years of the community and region.

If you like a rougher ride, “Wings, Wine and Wonder” will lead you on a mostly gravel route through Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge, past wineries, blueberry farms, and orchards. If you’re really serious, Black Rock is a nationally-known mountain bike park in Falls City. If you go, make sure you stop by The Bread Board for some incredible brick-oven bread and pizza.

Polk County is an incredible place to visit. Seen from two wheels, it offers a unique perspective of rural Oregon and the bounty it has to offer. We look forward to seeing you on the roads.