The high ground comprising Laurel and Sugarloaf Mountains (3592 and 3450 feet high, respectively) and Fanno and Riley Peaks (3314 feet and 3294 feet) is rather grandiosely referred to by The Logging Road Cyclist as The Laurel Mountain Massif. Laurel and Sugarloaf are the fourth and fifth highest points in Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range, so this is good chunk of high ground indeed. A drop of rainwater or snowmelt falling on Le Massif will find it’s way into Mill Creek, Rickreal Creek, the Luckiamute drainage and one or the other of the South or North Forks of the Siletz. Even devoted readers of this site may, at this point, be pulling out their hair over the incessant geo-pedagogy and ask: “TLRC, for the love of god, why are you going on and on about this? Next I’ll have to hear about all the gabbro in (ahem) Le Massif!”. Were this conversation taking place in an internet cafe over, say, a plate of whole wheat pancakes and a nice hot cup of decaf, TLRC (ever the gentleman) would sniff archly and reply: “Well done! In fact Le Massif is in fact a gabbro-rich environment, that being it’s raison d’être, bien sur. Why precipitation is of interest here, you see, is there is rather a lot of it.”
In fact, this is area apparently holds the all-time record for rainfall in Oregon, which, as TLRC doesn’t mind pointing out, is in fact actually saying something. In November, 2006, 50 inches of rain fell here (1-2/3 inches a day, for a month!) , in 1996, 204 inches of rain fell, and the annual average is more than 120 inches. Soggy, soggy.
Doubtless all this water helped to make this one of the most productive tree-growing spots on the planet, and hence one of the most productive tree-removing spots as well.
As of this writing, TLRC has gotten to all the high points. Unfortunately, this was in the prehistorical era, before the Garmin/Nikon epoch, so he is dutifully repeating those routes, and hopefully more, for posterity. In spite of the massive clear cutting throughout the Massif, there are some attractions. One is the especially remote feeling caused by riding in this huge place behind gates that are usually locked, virtually guaranteeing a solitary ride. It is amazing how alone one can feel back in there. Given the elevation of the high spots, there are spectacular views. Finally, TLRC has a soft spot for this area because of an encounter he had with four (4!) grown cougars last year. Spotting them ahead on a road he was zipping down, TLRC got himself stopped within 100 yards and a clear view of them, and got to watch them for upwards of fifteen minutes as they roused themselves and sauntered down the road and off into some small early-growth fir. The (extreme) unease felt by TLRC as he had to pass within ten or fifteen feet of where the cats were last seen only enhanced the power of this moment.
Lonely roads, big views, top-of-the-food-chain wildlife. This is an exciting place to ride.
6) Fanno Ridge