Middle Willamette River Divide

This ride resulted from an evening of scanning Forest Service maps looking for Cascade loops.  The map for the Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest is particularly interesting, given the many roads, the huge area covered and the dramatic valley of the upper Middle Fork of the Willamette. The excellent paved 21 road follows the river, and leads to a number of pleasant campgrounds. What drew the eye of The Logging Road Cyclist that evening were the 5850 and 2154 roads. The 5850 starts near the Middle Fork ranger office west of Oakridge and climbs to the divide between the MF and the Coast Fork Willamette. It follows this divide until it changes to the MF-Steamboat Cr. divide, after which it descends and winds around past Loletta Lakes up to the MF-North Umpqua divide. After this (although the details seemed vague), it appeared possible to get to the 2154 road,

Diamond Peak from FS5850

which traverses the MF-North Umpqua divide all the way to Timponagas Lake, the headwaters of the Middle Fork. From there, some gravel leads down to the paved part of the 21 road. TLRC planned to start in about the middle of the valley, at Secret Campground, go down the 21 road to the Larison Rock road (2102), climb up  it to the remarkable 5850 and ride along the divide to Timponagas, thence back to the start. Tracing the route on TOPO showed about 110 miles, but since the last 25 were downhill, TLRC figured they didn’t count.  A number of escape routes from the divide down to the valley made TLRC feel this was all pretty reasonable.

The Beginning of the much sought-after 2154

In the end, it took three trips to make the loop. The first (Timponogas I, gpx) was stopped by fires near Steeple Rock. The second (Timponagas II, for which TLRC forgot the Garmin), took up where the previous ride had left off, but only made it to the base of the connector needed to get to the 2154. The final (Timponagas III, gpx) established the connector to the 2154 and completed the loop.

Straley Ridge and Creek from FS2154

In the opinion of TLRC, each of these rides individually is pretty tough. He did them in hot weather and drank his way through a 100oz bladder and two bike bottles and was glad to have a Steripen along to refill at the lakes and streams along the way, otherwise times would have been hard. Doing this loop in a single push is sort of a goal for TLRC, one that he is not sure he could actually complete, but we’ll see. The riding did turn out to be all that TLRC had hoped for. The country is big, with large, wonderful views in all directions.