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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

Smith River Rd, Drain to Reedsport

Ride Report

Date Reviewed: 05/05

Length: around 80 miles

Technical Difficulty: Difficult.

Location: This is a very complex route. A detailed map in addition to the directions below is highly recommended.

From the east, find Smith River Rd on Hwy 38 between mile posts 52 and 53 at a well marked junction (N43° 41' 16.50" and W123° 17' 52.56"). Follow Smith River Rd for about 35-40 miles to the junction with South Sister Road (N43° 49' 37.03" and W123° 41' 7.27"). Turn left and continue about 40 miles to the coast.

Captured in the map above and in the pictures below is a split where the South Fork Smith River Rd departs from the Upper Smith River Rd. Find the junction at a ridge's apogee about 6 miles in (N43° 44' 26.28" and W123° 20' 21.95"). The South Fork Smith River Rd is also called 21-5-18.0 and reunites with Upper Smith River Road between mile posts 16 and 17.

Connects With: Wolf Creek/Smith River Rd, Buck/Elk Creek, Hwy 38, Hwy 101, Weatherly Creek Rd, Paradise Creek Rd, and South Sister Rd.

Amenities: None

Places of Interest: Smith River Falls, camping sites, and a beautiful route.

Review: - described from Hwy 38 - This road was made for adventure loving riders!!! It starts out winding along a river, gets very twisty while climbing a mountain, becomes a poorly maintained one lane gravel trap, and ends as a brilliant two lane coastal road. This road is something of an adventure all by itself.

For sport oriented riders, Elk Creek Rd bypasses the gravely stuff by connecting to Siuslaw River Road (look for this turn just past mile post 15).

From the get go, you'll notice this road is different. Even though there are quite a few houses, few turns are marked and some certainly should be. Road surfaces are excellent for the most part. Just as a rhythm becomes clear, Smith River Rd breaks into a mountain climb.

The mountain climb is reason enough to ride this road. Multiple second gear switch backs with excellent visibility offer large lean angles with minimal risk. Locals in 4wd vehicles also seem to enjoy this section and occasionally spray gravel over all the turns. In spite of this, the mountain climb is one of this road's highlights.

Smith River Road follows the mountain's eastern edge for about a mile before dropping to rejoin the river. At the road's summit, look for South Fork Smith River Road taking off on the left. Finding it requires close attention because it looks like just another logging road.

Nimble bikes with rule on South Fork Smith River Road. One lane, initially, it's a ridge run with wide open views of the coastal range. After a steep descent to the river, corners become more relaxed while the road surface degrades. While not bad in terms of ruts and obstacles, it contains lots of rock chip debris.

While on the South Fork, watch out for some enticing turns on the left. The key is not to turn. Continue straight for 10 miles. South Fork Smith River Road will rejoin a two lane Upper Smith River Road at this point.

While the South Fork leads riders on a rugged one lane adventure, Upper Smith River Road continues as a civilized and fun two lane road along Smith River's main fork. With both scenic beauty and rather tight sweeping corners, most riders will prefer the upper route.

At mile post 22, both the two lanes and County Maintenance end. In spring, 2005, the next 10 miles were quite rough and the map was very generous to call them paved. It gets bad enough that differentiating Smith River Road from numerous logging roads becomes challenging.

Smith River Road markedly improves after the junction with Weatherly Rd. Entirely paved, Weatherly leads to Hwy 138 about halfway between Drain and Reedsport. At the junction of Weatherly and Smith River Rd, there will be mounds of gravel on the right. Turn right and continue for about eight milesto the junction with South Sister Rd. At this junction, turn left to meet Hwy 101 in 42 miles (odometer reading). Alternately, turn right to meet Siuslaw River Rd in 15 miles.

As stated, Smith River Rd meets Hwy 101 in around 42 miles. At Hwy 101, turn left for Reedsport (about one mile) or right for Florence (about 20 miles).

Smith River Road is great fun and is perhaps the most remote yet paved East-West coastal route in the region.

Rider Comments

"Along this road 10 to 20 miles from its eastern end is a signboard directing you to Eugene. The road is well paved, scenic and curvy, and connects to Territorial road." - Dennis, Salem, Oregon

"This is agreat ride. Well marked with road in good condition. But be on the watch for a couple of sink holes in the pavement at about the 26 to 35 mile marks in from the eastern (Drain) end. They are in the shaded sections along the creek in the left side of the lane. My buddy and I both hit the first one which is 2 feet in diameter and about 10 inches deep. Not fun on a big cruiser. Did some damage but we both kept our bikes upright. Second one not so big, but would make you pucker if you hit it. Someone could get seriously hurt, so pay attention in that stretch of road. Will ride it again." - Mark P., Sutherlin, Oregon

Oregon Motorcyclist - Motorcycle Roads in Oregon

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