Editor's Note: This post is courtesy of Travel Oregon.
There are so many gorgeous vistas along the Oregon Coast, it's tough to truly quantify the scope of the beauty. But for mountain bikers (and any outdoor enthusiast, really), the stretch between Cape Blanco and Langlois is absolute bliss. Thanks to a network of multi-use trails that range from fat bike-friendly sand to loamy forest soil, riding between the breathtaking cliffs of Blacklock Point and the serene peacefulness of Floras Lake was the most relaxing and enjoyable surprise of my two-week journey around Oregon.
Although parts of the Coast can get crowded on the weekend, head south to the quaint towns of Bandon, Langlois and Port Orford, and you might have the beach to yourself.
Floras Lake is only a couple hundred meters over a sand dune from the Pacific Ocean (click to enlarge).
Floras Lake State Natural Area lies at the end of a dirt road, and features an RV-friendly lakeside campground. Only a few hundred feet of sand dunes separate Floras Lake from the ocean. It's an ideal kiteboarding and windsurfing locale, and it's right next to the 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail.
Pink rhododendron line miles of coastal singletrack between Floras Lake and Blacklock Point (click to enlarge).
I didn't have a fat bike for this ride, but it wasn't a deal breaker. Aside from the first quarter mile between Floras Lake and Blacklock Point, a traditional mountain bike does just fine. Once past the sandy shores of Floras Lake, the Oregon Coast Trail turns to singletrack, mixing forest loam bliss with the occasional loose sandy section. The trail has lots of exposed roots, but most are easily rideable, and there are only a few rocks. Add in a gentle gradient, and the Oregon Coast Trail offers two-wheeled fun for the whole family.
What made this mellow lollipop loop so special was that it was more adventure than mountain bike ride. Numerous spur trails offer access to scenic ocean views, and the main trail passes a mile-long World War II-era airstrip where you can ride a lengthy stretch of airplane-wing-wide pavement. It's eerie and awesome at the same time.
About a mile past the airstrip I arrived at Blacklock Point, a stunning swath of land that juts into the sea with sweeping views of the Cape Blanco lighthouse and the coastal bluffs. Wild purple iris bloomed everywhere, as did radiant rhododendrons and the young buds of wild strawberries. Blacklock Point delivers you from a deep, lush forest of Douglas fir, pine trees and ferns onto a green, treeless, rocky bluff.
The entire time I was riding the pristine coastal singletrack I felt as if I was doing something illegal. Back home in California, mountain bikes are not allowed on coastal trails this beautiful. But here along the Oregon coast it's encouraged. And despite it being Memorial Day, I didn't see anyone on the trail, save for a lone hiker and a couple of dog walkers. They all greeted me with a smile and a friendly wave.
Though hard to spot in this photo, there's a waterfall the empties onto the beach (click to enlarge).
Returning north towards Floras Lake on singletrack, I came to a bluff overlooking a towering waterfall emptying onto the shoreline. To the north was gorgeous sandy beach tucked against cliffs that gradually gave way to the dunes along Floras Lake. I was blown away.
After returning to my RV, I sat and drank a couple Oregon-brewed beers, watched a small group of kiteboarders harness the wind, and dreamt of this magical place's many possibilities. Windsurfing and kiteboarding the lake; fishing, surfing and swimming in the ocean; mountain biking or trail running on top of the bluffs; fat biking along the coastline; and finishing it off each evening with a sunset beach barbeque. Floras Lake left an indelible mark on me. It's a blissful place to disconnect from everyday life and embrace the spiritual power of nature. I'm already making plans to return.
Check out this summer's 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders scavenger hunt. We're hiding seven custom-made bikes around Oregon for someone to find and ride. For full details and rules, please visit traveloregon.com/7bikes7wonders. To learn more about the state and all it has to offer, check out TravelOregon.com.