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Route Talk – Flowing Downhill

Starting off from Diamond Lake it’s 4 miles to Highway 138, then let that freewheel fly downhill all the way to Steamboat Creek. This lengthy downhill cruise follows the designated Wild and Scenic Umpqua River and is yet another of the beautiful stretches of National Scenic Byway we will be riding this week. Enjoy the view for a while without the distraction of sweat getting in your eyes.

If you listen carefully, you may hear rushing water–that’s your first clue that you you’re riding through prime waterfall country. We’ll pass several waterfalls that are within a short distance from the highway. Make a mental note and save the waterfall chasing for another day because today is all about bagging those miles and getting to the picturesque shores of Dorena Lake with daylight left to burn.

After that long descent and a turn off of Highway 138 onto lesser travelled roads, it’s time to tackle the only real climb of the day. It starts off with 10 miles of gentle climbing then gets a little more serious for about three miles with a pitch ranging from 6-10%.

What goes up must come down and after you’ve defeated the climb, you’re rewarded with a five-mile descent with a few fairly steep brake-grabbing sections. After that, it’s pretty flat road for the rest of the day.

The last ten miles of Day 4 will be ridden on the Row (rhymes with how) River Trail, which follows the shoreline of Dorena Reservoir. This National Recreation Trail is the result of a successful Rails-to-Trails project that converted the abandoned Oregon Pacific & Eastern (OP&E) rail line into this gorgeous excursion.

Our overnight camping location is past the Dorena Reservoir dam at Schwarz Park, about 5 miles from the town of Cottage Grove. Kick back in the green grass and bask in the glory of your long, but rewarding day–you’ve earned it!


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  1. The descent down Sharps Creek to Dorena Lake is not “brake grabbing.” It’s more like “can I ever get off my brakes?” Carefully is the word of the day. Be safe and leave no skin behind.