By Matt Eames
Ashland has a well-deserved reputation as a great spot to mountain bike. The trails in the Ashland Watershed and on USFS land can be accessed right from town. Ashland and the entire Rogue Valley tends to fly under the radar when the discussion turns to skinny tire riding. I really enjoy long bike rides. On or off road; flat, rolling or climbing heavy- I like them all. One of my favorite routes covers most corners of the beautiful Rogue Valley. If took me a few riding seasons and some insight from co-workers to piece this route together. Starting in Ashland the route will take you through orchards and vineyards as well as some of the cool historic towns in Southern Oregon. There are plenty of spots to stop to enjoy a mid-ride coffee, top off your bottles, or meander through the streets to check out some local shops. You might get a few funny looks if you're rocking the lycra, but the views and fresh air are often worth it!
If you come to one of our classes, you can pick the instructors' brains for where you might be able to ride for shorter, longer, dirt, or a higher elevation route.
This route starts out relatively flat heading North/Northwest from Ashland. The first real climb is going up W. Griffin Creek Road followed by Sterling Creek Road. Next up is a fun little decent down Cady Road in to Historic Jacksonville. Jacksonville has a few attractions. First, the main strip of Jacksonville has been left with the old facade, even if there are new shops and restaurants inside. It's also home of the musical Brit Festival at their outdoor theatre. If you head down W. California St., you can turn left on 4th Street or the next, 5th Street, and there will be a small park there with picnic benches, bathrooms, and water fountains. It's a nice place to take a break, get something to eat, and listen to either the small creekrunning next to it or possibly hear some of the live music from their outdoor amphitheatre. Coffee and a snack can be had at Jacksonville Roasting Company or Pony Espresso. Jacksonville Roasting Company is on your right as you enter town.
Once out of Jacksonville the route takes you along some rolling terrain making your way toward Gold Hill on Old Stage Rd. You will go over I-5 continuing on and making a left turn that will take you over the Rogue River. There are plenty of places to stop for food and hydration in Gold Hill. Also, Gold Hill is a great spot to drop-in and enjoy a leisurely float down river. Plenty of river equipment and shuttle service options are available.
Leaving Gold Hill on Hwy 234 heading west, you will pass Del Rio vineyard and winery (too early for wine?) continuing on N. River Road toward the town of Rogue River. Once in Rogue River you will take a right onto Pine St. which will turn into East Evans Creek Rd. Continue on to the small town of Wimer and stop at the store to refill. The Wimer store has a few picnic benches out by the river to relax and have a snack.
Once you are refueled continue on East Evans Creek Rd rolling through a beautiful valley until you reach Meadows Rd. On Meadows Rd you'll have a nice climb of a few miles followed by a 3 mile decent. Continue on Meadows Rd looking for Dodge Rd on your left. Take a left on Dodge Rd. until you hit Antioch Rd. Take a right onto Antioch Rd continuing until the intersection of Antioch Rd. and Hwy. 234.
Go straight through the intersection, continuing on Antioch Rd. Rainey’s Corner Market is at the intersection of Antioch Rd and Hwy 234 and is another nice spot to refill and refuel. Antioch Rd will intersect with Modoc Rd; take a right on Modoc Rd.
Continue on Modoc Rd until you intersect with Table Rock Rd. Take a left on Table Rock Road passing over the Rogue River again. At the intersection of Table Rock Rd and Kirkland Rd take a right on Kirkland Rd. Continue on Kirkland which turns into Blackwell Rd. over Interstate 5 heading toward Central Point.
On Blackwell Rd/Hwy 99 take a right on Scenic Ave. Continue on Scenic Ave. until you reach Old Stage Road. Take a left on Old Stage Road making your way back to Jacksonville. The remainder of the route is the first portion of the ride in reverse.
If you're a little toasted at this point and just being home with a hot bath sounds nice, you can jump onto the Bear Creek Greenway back to Ashland. Keep following Table Rock Road and take the right onto W. Vilas road, follow the traffic on the right onto Hamrick Road and follow Hamrick as it bends Left. Take the next right onto E. Pine Street and you'll cross an overpass over Bear Creek, and the entrance to the Greenway will be on your right, across a sidwalk. A Pilot Gas station will be on your left. Follow the Greenway all the way back until it ends in a T intersection with Eagle Mill Road. If you follow Eagle Mill Road south, that will take you back into the hear of Ashland.
Here is an idea of the route on Mapquest, the major variation here is that in the listed directions here, we've routed you along Talent Ave. early on in the steps, rather than keeping you along Hwy99. There happens to be some construction there right now, but it will be a beautiful bike path once it's done! And the Mapquest also takes you back along the route on Old Stage Road and does not include the directions for the Greenway. But just know that the Bear Creek Greenway runs between Ashland and Central Point, and as such, can be a great bail out route if you find yourself gassed as you get to the cities.