Oregon's Mountains

OR: Southern Cascade Range Region, Douglas County, Cascades Crest, Hwy 138 Corridor, Diamond Lake, View over Diamond Lake to Mount Theisen [Ask for #279.024.]
View over Diamond Lake to Mount Theisen, on the Cascades Crest. [Ask for #279.024.]

The Coast Range stretches the length of Oregon, thirty-five to fifty miles wide and never more than a couple of miles from the coast. Elevations aren't very high by Western standards; they range from 1,500 feet in the north to 5,400 feet near the south. Gradients, however, are extremely steep, as its rivers cut through soft sedimentary rock. The Cacade Range start forty miles east of the Coast Range, on the far side of the valley that includes Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Roseburg. Elevations can top ten thousand feet on its eastern edge, and active glaciers exist on the highest peaks.

Mountain scenery is glorious and dramatic, and easily reached by paved back roads. BlogPacifica is the only detailed guide to these back roads, so we're making it as comprehensive as possible. This includes maps; you'll find our maps to be the only accurate set on the Internet. We've checked out every single road in an ordinary passenger car, and verified that they are all driveable without any special clearance or four wheel drive. (Although some are more adventurous than others!)

 

The West Slope of the Cascades

The Cascades Range stretches from northern California, across the length of Oregon, then across the length of Washington State and into British Columbia, and about 130 miles inland. It's actually the northern extent of the Sierra Nevadas, but nearly drowned by an incredible lava flow about 55 million years ago, a flow that stretched across Idaho and blotted the sun out enough to turn the Earth into a slush ball and create a mass extinction.

Like the Sierras far to the south, it has a steep eastern slope lined by cliffs and a gentle western slope cut into canyons. Here's what the West Slope looks like.

OR: Douglas County, Cascades Western Slopes, North Umpqua Valley, Soda Springs, Basalt columns loom over the North Umpqua River [Ask for #277.201.]
Basalt columns loom over the North Umpqua River at Soda Springs, just off Oregon State Highway 138. [Ask for #277.201.]
OR: Southern Cascade Range Region, Douglas County, Cascades West Slope, North Umpqua Valley, Hwy 138 Corridor, View across the North Umpqua River towards Eagle Rock and OR 138 bridge, from Mountain Lake Rd [Ask for #279.147.]
View across the North Umpqua River towards Eagle Rock and OR 138 bridge. [Ask for #279.147.]

The West Slope of the Cascades 

Smith River Road

This 85 mile backroad wanders through a remote, heavily forested part of the Coast Range between Roseburg and I-5. The Smith River itself takes up 79 of those miles, and this road follows it closely. It is paved throughout, and has some fine side roads worth exploring.

OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Smith River Area, Lower Smith River, North Fork Community, Lower Smith River Road at North Fork [Ask for #276.025.]
Lower Smith River Road passes through North Fork Community. Coast Range in Douglas County, Oregon. [Ask for #276.025.]
OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Smith River Area, Roman Nose Area, Esmond Ridge Road, The ridgetop approach road to Roman Nose gives mountain views over tall Douglas Firs [Ask for #276.792.]
The mountains above the Smith River Gorge, center on a peak known as Roman Nose. Coast Range in Douglas County, Oregon. [Ask for #276.792.]

Smith River Road 

The Elliott State Forest

The spectacular Elliot State Forest takes up 140 squares miles between Coos Bay and Reedsport. A network of good gravel roads includes a 49 mile scenic loop along its ridgetops.

OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, The Ridgetop Drive, Cougar Pass Area, Wide views over clear cuts from FS 7000 (the northern mainline) at Cougar Pass [Ask for #274.518.]
Wide views from the Elliott State Forest's Ridgetop Drive at Cougar Pass, as it passes over clear cuts. Coast Range in Douglas County, Oregon. [Ask for #274.518.]
OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, The Ridgetop Drive, FR 7000, This mainline logging road runs through a Douglas Fir forest [Ask for #274.608.]
The Elliott State Forest's scenic Ridgetop Drive runs through a Douglas Fir forest. Coast Range in Douglas County, Oregon. [Ask for #274.608.]

The Elliott section has four pages for an in-depth look of this little visited area.

About the Elliott State Forest
The Ridgetop Scenic Loop
Side roads to the Millacoma River
Side roads to the outside world 

BLM's Camp Creek Area

This little known area has one of the finest waterfalls in the Coast Range, along with ten miles of sandstone canyon, a fine view, and a very odd bridge.

OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Camp Creek Area (BLM), Camp Creek Canyon, Camp Creek Falls, View of the waterfall [Ask for #276.979.]
Camp Creek Falls, a waterfall in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camp Creek Area. Coast Range, Douglas County, Oregon [Ask for #276.979.]
OR: Douglas County, Coast Range, Camp Creek Area (BLM), Camp Creek Area (BLM), Lower portions of Camp Creek Road pass along the bottom of a cliff-lined gorge [Ask for #274.637.]
Lower portions of Camp Creek Road pass along the bottom of a cliff-lined gorge, in this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) tract. Coast Range, Douglas County, Oregon [Ask for #274.637.]

There is one page about the Camp Creek area:

Camp Creek 

Golden and Silver Falls State Park

Located outside the city of Coos Bay, this park features two waterfalls that flow over cliffs, set in an old forest grove.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Allegany Community, Gold and Silver Falls State Park, Silver Falls [Ask for #271.136.]
Silver Falls, in Golden and Silver Falls State Park. [Ask for #271.136.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Allegany Community, Gold and Silver Falls State Park, View of Golden Falls [Ask for #276.943.]
Golden Falls, in Golden and Silver Falls State Park. [Ask for #276.943.]

There is one page about the Golden and Silver Falls area:

Golden and Silver Falls State Park

The Old Coos Bay Wagon Road

One of the state's most historic and beautiful roads, crossing the Coast Range between Coos Bay and Roseburg, has hardly changed since it was the only road linking Coos Bay with the outside world.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Old Coos Bay Wagon Road, Sitkum Community, The Old Wagon Road passes rock cliffss at the eastern edge of Sitkum. [Ask for #276.272.]
The Old Coos Bay Wagon Road passes along rock cliffs at the eastern edge of Sitkum. Coast Range, Coos County, Oregon. [Ask for #276.272.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Old Coos Bay Wagon Road, Upper Brewster Canyon, Waterfall on the East Fork Coquille River, as viewed from the Old Wagon Road [Ask for #274.233.]
A waterfall on the East Fork Coquille River in Brewster Canyon, as viewed from the Old Wagon Road. Coast Range in Coos County, Oregon. [Ask for #274.233.]

There are two pages on the Wagon Road, one on its history and another describing the drive, including directions.

About The Old Wagon Road
Touring the Scenic Old Wagon Road 

Mountains of the Old Wagon Road

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains a network of paved public roads throughout the mountains that flank the Old Wagon Road. These roads can be connected to form a fine scenic loop surrounding the Old Wagon Road.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Drainage, Burnt Mountain Area [BLM], Coos Mountain, Bear Track Road, Paved BLM road gives public access to these actively logged mountains, running through a clear-cut in a ridge-top fir forest with broad views [Ask for #274.112.]
A paved BLM road gives wide views, here from the top of a clearcut. Coast Range in Coos County, Oregon. [Ask for #274.112.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Drainage, Burnt Mountain Area [BLM], Burnt Mountain, Tioga Creek Road, Paved BLM road ends at the North Fork Coos River in the Weyerhauser Millicoma Tree Farm (closed to the public). Terminus of the BLM road, with sign. [Ask for #274.123.]
A BLM road sign marks the beginning of a paved forest road. [Ask for #274.123.]


There are three pages describing these roads, one giving a description and maps, one tracing out a 68 mile scenic loop (easily extended), and one describing some of the more interesting side roads.

About the Mountains of the Old Wagon Road
A Scenic Loop of the Mountains of The Wagon Road.
Side Roads of the Old Wagon Road's Mountains 

The Sixes and Elk Rivers


East of Cape Blanco the Sixes River and the Elk River drain the Coast Range. Both are beautiful but their characters are different. While the Sixes is exploited by loggers and gold miners, the Elk runs through cliffs on the borders of two wilderness areas.

OR: Curry County, Coast Range, Sixes River, Sixes River, A mining claim sign. Gold is found in the Sixes River's deposits [Ask for #277.008.]
A sign marks a gold mining claim along the Sixes River. Coast Range in Curry County, Oregon. [Ask for #277.008.]
OR: South Coast Region, Curry County, Coast Range, Northern Rivers, Sixes River, The gravel road that parallels the upper stretches of the river runs through a clearcut, giving views. [Ask for #277.014.]
The Sixes River Road gives views towards cliff bound Mount Avery. Coasst Range in Curry County, Oregon.[Ask for #277.014.]

There is one page about the Sixes and Elk Rivers:

Sixes River and Elk River 

The Rogue River Area

The Rogue River Gorge is the premier recreation region in the Coast Range, popular with rafters and kayakers. Campers, fishermen, and swimmers drive out onto its extensive gravel bars; further upstream, the cliff-sided gorge splits a major recreation area. Remote corners hide several striking historic sites.

OR: Curry County, Coast Range, Rogue River Area, Bear Camp Coastal Route. Mature Douglas fir forests cover the higher elevations of this notoriously difficult scenic byway [Ask for #274.715.]
Mature Douglas fir forests cover the higher elevations of this Forest Service scenic byway. Rogue River Area in the Coast Range, Curry County, Oregon. [Ask for #274.715.]
OR: Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Drainage, Powers Community, Pioneer Museum, a restored log cabin [Ask for #277.048.]
Pioneer Museum, a restored log cabin in Powers Community, just north of the Rogue River Area in the Coast Range, Coos County, Oregon [Ask for #277.048.]

There is one page about the Rogue River area:

The Rogue River Area 
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Coos Bay, OR
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