Friday, March 28, 2014

Eugene to Florence: Perm populaire, point-to-point, reversible

Eugene to Florence via Triangle Lake

RUSA permanent populaire #2318 
Point-to-point, reversible, 120km (75mi).  Approx 1800' climbing.

Cue sheet: 
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This 120km (75mi) route takes you from  Eugene, OR to Florence, on the Oregon coast, via Triangle Lake on Highway 36.  It begins at 18th and Chambers in southwest Eugene and follows the Fern Ridge Path to its end at Greenhill and Royal, then out Royal, Fir Butte, and Clear Lake roads across the north edge of Fern Ridge Reservoir to Lawrence and onto Highway 36 (Siuslaw Highway).   The highway is narrow but less traveled than Highway 126;   I have felt fairly safe on it in fall and spring.   There is a market at Low Pass, not too far along 36, but it is often closed when I pass early in the morning.  You will have no cell phone coverage for most of the segment on 36, from approximately Low Pass until Swiss Home, so it may be a good idea to ride with a buddy.

You will cross the coast range.  However, it is not a hard or long climb, topping out below 1100 feet.  River views just after the summit are particularly scenic.  That section of pavement is also rather rough, the more reason to slow down a bit and enjoy the view.

And what river is that?  The map says Lake Creek.  Pretty substantial for a creek.

The little town of Deadwood, at about 48 miles, is a control.   Hot food offerings at the market are meager, but the market has a restroom, and the staff are friendly.   I am partial to this market because they were helpful to me once when I was suffering from knee pain and unable to finish my ride.

Highway 36 merges into Highway 126 at Mapleton.  Mapleton is not a control, but the coffee shop in the little strip mall on your left just after the junction is nice.  It was tempting to end the route right there in Mapleton, which is a nice little town, but the point was to get to the coast ... so the last few miles are on Highway 126.  The nicest thing I can say about that section is that the shoulder is wide enough to make you feel relatively safe despite the SUVs and motor homes.  It is flat, but in summer you can count on a strong headwind.  The scenery is nice if you can sit up enough to take it in.  The river is wide and flat as it approaches the bay, and you might see osprey as well as coastal birds.

The closing control is in Florence.  There are many choices, including grocery stores and cafes, once you reach the junction with Highway 101.   I recommend turning south (left).  After picking up a receipt to document finishing your route, you may consider riding about 5 miles south on Highway 101 to Honeyman State Park (open year round) for a shower, or even to camp in one of their $5 hiker-biker spots if you are suitably equipped.