N 43° 29.209' W 121° 57.512'
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A New Road!
It was years in the making - the first paving of three former logging roads linking Cottage Grove and Oakridge began nearly 20 years ago. But when the U.S. Forest Service completed the final stretch in September, 2005, it indeed created an inviting new road: Crisp white fog lines snake along a ribbon of blue-black asphalt, beckoning cyclists and motorists alike.
One section of the route even forms a Hobbit-like gateway, with red and gold-leaved branches arching in a brilliant canopy overhead.
The real payoff, though, comes further east, after sharp switchbacks carry you to an open summit near 5,164-foot Grass Mountain. This panorama is unlike any other in the county. A 150-mile chain of Cascade peaks march north to south with their white caps of fall snow: Mount Jefferson, Black Butte, Mount Washington, Three Sisters, Diamond Peak, Mount Thiesen, Mount McLoughlin.
Then, as you drop down Larison Rock Road, a final vista comes into view: the blue-green waters of Hills Creek Lake.
The newly paved road (76 miles as measured from Interstate 5 to Highway 58) is being touted as a recreational and competitive cycling route by Lane County tourism officials and the cities of Oakridge and Cottage Grove. Randy Dreiling at Oregon Adventures in Oakridge (968-5397) offers guided bike tours of the route.
Plan at least two hours each way for the meandering trip - more if you want to hike along Brice Creek at the bottom or linger over the view from the top.
Officials for both cities credit Umpqua National Forest District Ranger Deb Schmidt with overseeing completion of the road. The Lane County Board of Commissioners approved the use of federal Title 2 funds for the bulk of the final $500,000 paving and striping project, which Oakridge and Cottage Grove also supported over the years.
To reach the road from the southern Willamette Valley, travel south on Interstate 5 to Cottage Grove and take Exit 174. Proceed 18 miles east on Row River Road, past Dorena Lake and Baker Bay Park, until you reach Brice Creek Road (Forest Service Road 22).
Stay on Brice Creek Road all the way to Forest Service Road 5850. Before turning left there, however, you should proceed across FSR 5850 about a quarter mile and turn left at the short, gravel road leading to an old log deck that overlooks Hills Creek Lake, the Cascade foothills and nine mountains.
Then head north on FSR 5850 until you reach FSR 2102. Turn left there, following it to Highway 58 just east of Oakridge.
A few tips before you set out:
Link back to GPNDG 2006 page...