On Day 5 we leave the sparkling, glassy waters of Dorena Lake behind and pedal our way to the town of Oakridge, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The first 11 miles of the day may look familiar–that’s because they are the last 11 miles of yesterday’s ride, only heading in the opposite direction. This will give you a chance to appreciate Dorena Lake’s beauty from every angle. The Row River Trail will escort us along the banks of Dorena Lake until we are almost to our first stop at Wildwood Falls.
At around mile 19, the route enters the Umpqua National Forest. Make yourself right at home amongst the stands of Western Hemlock, Douglas Firs, Cedars and old-growth Ponderosas because most of the day will be forest riding, with the occasional stream, on lightly used US Forest Service roads.
Shortly after the second stop of the day, you’ll encounter a climb–nothing major, but you will notice that you and your bike are working a little harder now. As you approach the summit, there are some steep climbing sections for three miles before you reach the (first) top of the hill at mile 36 from the start. Just take it at your own pace and fantasize about fresh legs and cool breezes.
At mile 39, you’ll crest the second (and final) hilltop of the day at which time you can confidently shift from “uphill mode” to “downhill mode”. Take a minute to look to your left where you may just be able to make out Crater Lake in the distance. Hey, remember when we rode around Crater Lake? That was awesome! Now, sit back and let gravity take over as you cruise the remaining 20 downhill miles, being mindful of some steep stretches along a tree shaded road into Oakridge, where lunch and the rolling caravan of bicycle enthusiasts that is Cycle Oregon awaits your triumphant arrival.
Gravel Option: If you’re an experienced gravel rider and prepared for the potential flat tires or mechanical issues that may come with it, there is an option you can take. It’s a 15-mile largely downhill section that adds about five miles to your day. This option is 10 miles of gravel on a Forest Service Road before becoming paved near Hills Creek Reservoir. It joins the main route 5 miles before the finish in Oakridge. The gravel options can be a lot of fun but the support is more limited than on the main route and the challenge is greater.