Motorcycle Routes & Day Trips
from Portland (PDX), Oregon
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My husband and I love traveling in other countries by motorcycle. In 2009,
we moved from Germany to the Portland, Oregon area (my
husband is German, I'm from the USA), and since the USA has such a
ridiculously-tiny vacation time culture, we decided to start treating our
spare time here as a mission to map the best motorcycle day trips around
These suggested motorcycle routes are for people who live in the
Portland or the surrounding area and want a nice day trip - scenic and
winding roads. But these routes are also for motorcycle riders who are
visiting the Portland area, or elsewhere in Oregon, as part of a
long-distance trip. If you are traveling through Oregon, I think some of
these are as interesting as the coast - with far less traffic and traffic
lights. The Forest Grove - Vernonia - Bikenfeld - Jewell route is
spectacular! Too many motorcycle travelers think the only way to go
through Oregon is via the coast. The coast is nice, but to be honest,
after about an hour, you've seen it, and the traffic and stop lights can
take all the fun out of the ride.
These routes are all scenic, have enough curves to be interesting, are
mostly paved (if they aren't I note so in the description), and either
pass through or end in places where there are food options and at least
one gas station (or ends reasonably near such). These suggested routes
will take you on many winding roads by historic sites, several villages
and small towns, and some ferry crossings.
Mt. Hood and Detroit Lake are also nice day trips from Portland and very
easy to map out yourself - though I prefer all of the above to those,
probably because there's much less traffic, more twisting roads, and I just
think all of the above is prettier.
- Forest Grove through Vernonia and
Birkenfeld to Jewell, Oregon, about 100 miles from Portland, and
from there, you have several options to either go back to Portland or to
go on to the coast. This is my favorite day trip via motorcycle in all
of Northern Oregon, East or West. Make it even longer and go all the way
to Astoria or Seaside, and can be combined with some other trips on this
- Nestucca River Road is 50
miles of incredible twisties, and connects Carlton to Beaver on Highway
101, about 15 miles south of Tillamook. Only thing is that there is 1
1/2 miles of gravel in the middle of it. It is possible to bypass it
going West by taking Bald Mountain Access Road to Bible Creek Road,
which is all paved, but very confusing. You can go all the way to
Tillamook and the Oregon Coast, or, you can make a left at Bible Creek
Road and then via Willamina Creek
Road (and have lunch in Willamina) and on back to the PDX area,
making it at least a 168 mile loop altogether. OR, you can go up Bible
Creek Road from Nestucca and then make a left onto NW Bald Mountain
Access Road, stopping at Sheridan Peak Overlook (there's a pit toilet
there). It's all paved except for just two miles on Nestucca - and I've
done it on a cruiser street bike, not just a dual sport, so don't let
those two miles stop you from this awesome route. These are my favorite
local roads for motorcycle touring - scenic, twisty, and not a lot of
- Foss Road / Nehalem Road to Foss
Road, which is about 26 miles of gravel and passes three primitive
public campgrounds, and returns you to Highway 26 or state road 53,
depending on which direction you take. If you choose to go all the way
to the coast and 101 then, from there, if you have enough daylight, you
can do any of these, but you may run out of daylight to get back to
- Twisties to Vernonia & some
gravel: Forest Grove to Vernonia to Scappoose to North Plains
& back to Forest Grove (Oregon) - 96 miles, including 16 miles of
very twisty gravel on Dixie Mountain Road. Route is easily shortened.
Perfect road for practicing your gravel skills. From Highway 30, turn
South onto Old Rainier Road / Old US Highway 30. In less than two miles,
you will make a nasty uphill hairpin turn to go up Apiary Road. This
gets you back to 47 at a point a few miles north of Vernonia.
- Tillamook State Forest in Oregon, from Cochran Road and the town of
Timber. This is mostly gravel. I did it in 2014 and it was easy in terms
of road conditions - packed gravel, gentile inclines. But then I tried
it in 2017 and it was incredibly challenging: thick gravel and washouts
that had been replaced with baby head rocks instead of gravel. You can
do a loop inside the forest, but things aren't marked very well, so
bring a GPS if you want to stay on main roads. No OHV permit required if
you stay on the main gravel roads. Tons of unmarked forest roads
- Willamette River Motorcycle Route, a
two-three hour trip South of Portland, Oregon.
- New Era through Beavercreek to
Mollala, a 30-40 minute motorcycle ride South of Portland, Oregon.
- Canby, Mulino, Mt. Angel &
Silverton, a two-hour motorcycle ride South of Portland, Oregon
(how long it takes depends on how often you stop). Probably the most
popular motorcycle day trip from Portland. Make it even longer and go
all the way to Salem.
- Columbia Gorge Motorcycle Route on
WA-14 & Historic Columbia River Highway To Maryhill (Stonehenge)
& back, 200+ miles. Something easier to do from East Portland than
west of the city, at least in one day.
A route I still haven't mapped is to various
Oregon Covered bridges.
I also haven't mapped out a very decent, short route around the tiny town of
St. Paul. Very easy route - few hills, gentle turns.
Of course, there's even more possibilities, if you include forest roads, but
I'm still a novice when it comes to dirt and gravel. Also, if you do choose
forest roads, remember that some trails require an OHV permit.
Your suggestions for additional routes would be welcomed by me!
Adventure Motorcycle Luggage &
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My other motorcycle resources:
Tips for Women: Getting Started as a
Motorcycle Rider (just to ride, not necessarily to travel as well)
For Women Who Travel By Motorcycle (or want to)
Advice for Women Motorcycle Travelers:
Transportation and Accommodations Choices
Advice for Women Motorcycle Travelers: Suggested
Books and Web Sites
From Oregon to the "Lost Coast" of Northern
California (Horizons Unlimited 2010 California meeting) - August
Oh, Canada...Two-Week Canada/USA Tour by
Motorcycles (Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana,
Idaho) - September 2010
Oregon, Idaho, Yellowstone, &
More - June 2011
Lake, Oregon 2011 (photos only)
International trips by motorcycle
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
England & Scotland, France,
(the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Montenegro,
Trips riding my own motorcycle
Coast" and gold
(Glacier NP), Nevada,
(Alberta and British Columbia, Jasper, Banff & Kootenay).
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to or from my web site
traveling is not only wonderful, but important to your
life, and why women's excuses to avoid traveling are
really just words
travelers: general information and advice (especially
for women novice travelers)
travelers: health & safety considerations
travelers: packing suggestions
travelers: other resources to help women travelers
options, and advice on preventing motion sickness
the importance of complaining
travelers: advice for traveling in developing countries
my page of helpful hints for camping
with your dogs in the USA
Money with Park Passes in the USA
Started as a Motorcycle Rider: My Journey (Tips for
Women Who Want To Ride)
for Women Motorcycle Travelers: packing
Saving Money for Travel (or to
pay off your debt)
benefaciendo: "to travel along while doing good."
advice for those wanting to make their travel more than
sight-seeing and shopping.
the Internet to Share Your Adventure During Your Adventure,
advice on blogging, photo-sharing, tweeting, etc.
essential information while traveling
Advice on things you should do before you leave on a trip,
to ensure you can access information via any computer or
your feature phone or smart phone that you might need while
for Women Aid Workers in Afghanistan; many of these
tips are valid for travel anywhere in the world where the
culture is more conservative/restrictive regarding women
adventures in Germany
adventures in Europe, Africa, as well as road trips in
for Hotels, Hostels & Campgrounds in Transitional
& Developing Countries: the Qualities of Great, Cheap
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