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Oregon Motorcyclist - Motorcycle Roads in Oregon

"You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world." - William Hazlitt






Merlin to Wolf Creek Loop


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Ride Report

Date Reviewed: 04/15/2007

Length: About 40 miles.

Technical Difficulty: Moderate due to tight one lane road after Grave Creek

Location: Click for Garmin Tracks of this route. Happily, the route is easy to navigate without GPS.

From I-5 in the south, take Exit 61 to Merlin. Ride into and through Merlin without turning. Continue without turns for about 26 miles to the bridge at Grave Creek. After crossing the bridge, stay right on Lower Grave Creek Rd. There will be one junction about 9 miles after Grave Creek Bridge. Stay straight on Wolf Creek Rd. Turning right results in a paved journey to Sunny Valley.

Connects With: FR 23 (Gold Beach to Galice), Leland Rd, and Robertson Bridge Rd.

Amenities: Fuel in Wolf Creek and next to I-5 in Merlin. The best food seems to be in Merlin and Galice. Multiple lodging options from Merlin to Galice.

Places of Interest: Wolf Creek Inn, Incredible natural beauty

Review: Were someone to ask Ted for a list of top five rides in Southern Oregon, this would be on it. Curves range from gentle to very tight. It follows the Rogue River, breaking off only at the Wild and Scenic section. Canyons, mountains, water, and sky. This route has it all.

With such a glowing introduction, the straight section between I-5 and Merlin will have you wondering whether you took a wrong turn. Several groups of cruiser riders were spotted at various taverns along the way. Car traffic is moderate, but don't get overly concerned with passing. Most cars turn off before or in Merlin.

West of Merlin, the road eases into corners. Ample straight stretches make passing slow cars a breeze. If in a hurry, take advantage of the opportunity as legal passing later on is almost impossible. However, speeding through this section means missing some of Oregon's most beautiful landscape. Try not to be impressed at Hells Gate Overlook. To resist the urge to visit the water's edge is to lose an exceptional opportunity.

Lean angles go from great to "Oh My God" status after Galice. The road loses its median strip, but maintains the feel of a two lane road. Asphalt clings to cliffs as the road tightens substantially. Overshooting a corner could easily mean falling to certain death on a rocky bank. However, running perfect lines at prudent pace is incredible. Even cruiser riders seemed to love these turns.

It's after Graves Creek that the road truly tightens. While beautiful, the scenery is less stunning than the Rogue River. This makes it easy to focus on corners. Pavement remains near perfect even on this one lane section. Corners become so tight that on a 1000cc V-Strom, second gear occasionally felt a touch high. And it's not because the road was taken slowly. In spite of frequent picture stops to let them cool, the Pilot Road tires looked overheated and near melting. Even if it means mentally riding it in the evening, hooligans will visit this section more than once.

The road opens up about six miles from Wolf Creek. The bike can actually hit sixty miles per hour without immediate hard braking. The road ends across from a gas station in Wolf Creek. If continuing north, consider riding I-5 to the Glendale Exit (about five miles). Then enjoy Cow Creek Loop to Riddle. If needing to fuel while doing this route, grab gas in Wolf Creek. It appears to pump significantly more volume than Glendale's station.

Do not miss this stunning route.

Rider Comments

"I agree with Ted. This is one of my favorites also. I have ridden this road a few times and I highly recommend one start from the northern end and go south. This way, if you ever encounter a cage on this narrow road, you won't be on the cliff side." - Tekkamaki, Myrtle Creek, Oregon

Oregon Motorcyclist - Motorcycle Roads in Oregon

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