Road Riding in the Willamette Valley
Whether you’re looking for a pedal-powered trip through wine country, road rides through charming communities, or quiet outings in hop farms and corn fields, you’ll find plenty to love about rural rides across the Willamette Valley. So we’ve gathered a few of our favorite rides that showcase the best of the region, along with where to rent bicycles and stay the night—because one day in the Willamette Valley just isn’t enough.
Suggested Rides Throughout the Willamette Valley
For a pedal-powered introduction to the Willamette Valley’s rich bounty, look no further than the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. The ride starts north of Salem and broadly follows its namesake river before arriving, after 134 miles, just north of Eugene. In between, you’ll enjoy an up-close look at the region’s historic towns, agricultural offerings, and immense natural beauty.
The 29-mile Decker Ridge and Benton County Backways Ride may start and end in Corvallis, but the bulk of the route passes through the farmland for which the Willamette Valley is so well-known—and ascends the locally famous Decker Ridge, a rite of passage for serious road riders in the region.
The 25.4-mile Buena Vista Ferry Loop (pictured below) showcases a quiet look at life in rural Polk and Marion counties. Highlights include the Willamette River Basin, a quick trip on the historic Buena Vista Ferry, and post-ride refreshments back in the charming community of Independence.
When you need an escape and to experience those less-traveled backroads, take the Willamette Valley’s challenging 40-mile Albany Lewisburg Loop for a spin. The loop passes several wineries, pond habitats for Western pond turtles of the Willamette Valley, and the charming community of Albany.
Suggested Rides in and Around McMinnville
The 18-mile McMinnville-Erratic Rock Ride begins in the heart of McMinnville, passes the popular Farmer John’s Produce & Nursery (which grows and sells berries, produce, and flowers from fifth-generation farmers), and ends at Erratic Rock State Natural Site, a place for picnicking and relaxing with great views. The centerpiece of the park is a 90-ton rock that floated more than 500 miles down the Columbia River in an iceberg roughly 15,000 years ago.
Farmers produce more than 170 crops and livestock items throughout the Willamette Valley, and the McMinnville – Evergreen Museum – Grand Island Ride offers ample opportunities to experience some of the region’s bounty all year long.
Suggested Rides in the West Cascades
Over the course of 74 hilly miles, the Santiam-Calapooia Bikeway offers a thrilling introduction to the regal West Cascades. Cyclists gain more than 2,000 feet along the way, but are rewarded with bucolic backroads, bubbling rivers and reservoirs, and no shortage of small-town charm.
The McKenzie 3 River Loop offers a fun mix of urban riding, forested foothills, and scenic rivers—it follows and crosses the Willamette, McKenzie, and Mohawk rivers—all in just over 27 miles. It even starts from the Amtrak station in downtown Eugene, which creates the possibility for a car-free trip if you’re coming from out of town.
The Buena Vista Ferry has been running for decades—and modern ferry continues shuttling visitors across the Willamette River today ($1 for cyclists, $3 for cars, free for pedestrians—all payable with cash, check, or a terry toll card).
The Bike Peddler has been a Salem institution since 1974—and rents a variety of road bikes and mountain bikes.
The Independence Hotel is at the center of cycling culture in the Mid-Willamette Valley. The wide-open country roads and low elevation that surround Polk County make adventuring easy all year round. The Independence Riverview Park is mere steps away from the hotel and runs parallel to the Willamette River providing beautiful scenery for any length of ride.
Century House Bed & Breakfast sits in the heart of Salem and is surrounded by protected bike lanes and multi-use paths, which makes it easy for riders to hit the road and explore Oregon’s state capital. The vintage B&B also makes its garage and tools available to guests who need storage or a tune-up.