Ride to the Top of Mary's Peak
Oregon › Sky High Brewing
Added by Michael Graw
Get your legs screaming with this 4,000 foot-gain ride from the floor of the Willamette Valley to the top of Mary's Peak - the tallest in the Oregon Coast Range.
This ride takes you from the banks of the Willamette River at the Corvallis waterfront to the top of Mary's Peak, 26 miles and 4,000 vertical feet away. While it starts out with a warm-up through the flats of the Willamette Valley, it quickly starts climbing up around the west side of Mary's Peak. The views from the summit are well worth the effort - but the best part is the ride down at full speed!
Start out at Sky High Brewing Company in downtown Corvallis - you'll have ending back here to look forward to throughout the climb. Cut over on 3rd St. (Hwy 99) to Harrison Blvd, and ride Harrison west until you reach 53rd street. Make a left on 53rd, and then a right on Reservoir Rd. at the next light. When you reach the small town of Philomath three miles later, turn right on Main Street, and then bear left on Highway 34 when the highway splits. Although this highway is frequented by cyclists, it is still a busy highway - be careful and ride in a group whenever possible.
Enjoy the flat, easy riding through pretty Coast Range scenery while it lasts. At mile 15, the road takes on extreme bends and the climbing starts relatively suddenly - you'll gain about 1,000 feet in 2 miles. When you reach the long, uphill straightaway, drop your last gear and push up to the Mary's Peak summit road on the right. There's a gravel parking area here that makes a great place for a pit stop.
The climbing from here is steep and steady - plan to take it slow and spend the next two hours in your lowest gear. The scenery matches the effort, however, as you'll pass a number of waterfalls along the road. Logging along the road has also resulted in a number of clearings with great views of the Coast Range.
At mile 20, you'll get a brief respite - a 200 foot drop after an hour or more of climbing. Just remember, this also means you have a 200 foot climb to conquer on the way back down! From there, its another steady climb to the summit. Once you reach the top, celebrate! The road ends just below the actual summit, so you can hop off the bike and climb the last bit to finish the peak-bagging. This is especially worth it in mid-summer, when the wildflowers come out in the summit meadow in full force and clear skies make for a 360-degree panorama.
The ride back down is an adrenaline junkies' time to shine. Hit your top speed on the straightaways, but do take care coming down fast along the curvy road. Except for the short climb below the summit, the ride is downhill and flat all the way back to Sky High - which has great beer and great food! (If you're truly ready to eat your way back to town, check out Nutcakes on 12th Street in Philomath - their donuts are amazing!)
- Lights - even during the day, the road can be covered in shade
- Spare tubes and pump
- Water (bring more than you think you'll need)
- Energy bars
- Light jacket - especially in spring, the summit can be in a freezing cloud even when the valley is hot
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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Oregon's Mt. Tam
This place is wonderful if you're looking for a short hike to a sunset viewpoint. The clouds hang over the hills almost like waves. Definitely one of the most unique Oregon sunsets I've seen all summer. It's also very family friendly.
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