Trip Report: Adventure Moto to Oak Ridge and Beyond
Fall riding is truly the best, with warm daytime temperatures, cold clear skies at night, and great colors in the woods. Fall also means fewer people in the backcountry, so you can expect to find uncrowded and epic camping sites just about anywhere you travel.
Lately, I have picked my riding routes by simply opening an Oregon Gazetteer Map and selecting remote lakes and waterways located far away from noisy interstates and highways. With these trips I set out with the expectation of becoming mildly lost, sharing the backroads with log trucks, and running close to empty on fuel. Sometimes becoming “lost” is the key to finding the most amazing views and swimming holes. Keep plenty of cold beer back at camp, it provides great motivation to find your way back!
For my latest trip, I had 4 days to work with. I opened the Gazetteer and mapped out a route that would take me from Sherwood to the Clackamas River near Estacada, then along the river until I hit Highway 22 at Detroit, OR. My goal was to ride off the Highway as much as possible, but sometimes to reach the next road there is no choice but to ride a few miles on the Hwy. Once I crossed over the Detroit Dam the trip really became amazing. I was trying to reach Mackenzie River from this point and spend the first night there using only backroads. I linked about 20 service roads together and was able to connect to the Mackenzie River just before dark. After making camp, I celebrated with cold beer that I had picked up at the corner store miles back in Detroit Lake.
The next morning my goal was to reach Oak Ridge in time for lunch, fuel up the bike and grab some beer. My route led me upwards from the Mackenzie River along Quartz Creek Rd, reaching about 6000ft in elevation, and into some very confusing service roads. I’ll admit that I did get lost a few times while linking together almost 30 gravel roads that didn’t always align with my map. Thankfully I made it to Oak Ridge in time to grab some amazing BBQ and restock on supplies.
After a good night’s sleep, I grabbed a late breakfast in Oakridge then left town, hitting Forest Service roads along Deception Rock. This was another confusing stretch, with a goal of making camp along Highway 138 near Rock Creek. The route looked cool on the map with twisty roads and lots of dirt & gravel. I got lost again, and instead found the best campsite EVER! I’ll leave this location secret, as you will inevitably get lost trying to find it.
I traveled the backroads for a few hours, checked my map, then got directions from a group of motorcyclists. They pointed me off in the right direction and I was off again. It was late, about 5pm, and my biggest worry was is my beer still cold? I wandered down a road that turned to pavement and into a primitive camp ground along the river.
As I made dinner I could hear a very faint sound of a waterfall. The next day I woke, had some oatmeal, and set out for a hike to find the falls. Sure thing – there was a 12ft waterfall cascading down to a 50ft deep pool filled with large trout. I couldn’t resist and jumped in for a short swim in the icy water. After my swim I got camp torn down and headed off again. I pointed the bike towards the Oregon coast, passing through Cottage Grove, making my way back North along the backroads.
The goal of adventure riding for me is finding new ways around the state, getting safely lost without panicking, then finding my way back. I’ve found some of my favorite places completely by accident, while lost trying to find new ways to new areas.
Just open the map book, point at something, and go there. Simple. Whether you travel alone or with a group, it’s more about the journey than anything else. Worry less, ride more!