Applegate Lake is a rewarding destination at the southern end of the Applegate Valley. ##Photo by Robert Cortright
The historic McKee Bridge spans the Applegate River south of Jacksonville. ##Photo by Dan Shryock
Downtown Jacksonville remains an excellent hub for bike rides in the Rogue Valley. ##Photo by Carla Shryock

Cycling Series: Part 6

Rogue Valley

By Dan Shryock

Editor’s Note: This is the final of six monthly guides exploring places to cycle in Oregon wine country. Cycling can be a safe activity as long as riders continue to practice social distancing, officials say. Research suggests cyclists extend spacing as far as 20 yards when riding single file to accommodate extended airflow or the slipstream. Please check winery safety guidelines before visiting.

The Rogue Valley AVA spreads across Southern Oregon with wineries scattered from the foothills of the Cascades west to the Coast Range. Vineyards stretch along fertile valleys of the Applegate, Illinois, Bear Creek and Rogue rivers. There’s no single bike route that reflects the diverse region, so consider finding one appealing place to experience both wine and wine country cycling.

Jacksonville, for example, remains an ideal starting point with its easy access to excellent restaurants, lodging and wineries. The city’s historic downtown is a popular destination with or without a bike, and there’s much more to see from two wheels.

Here are three ways to explore the Rogue Valley by bike. 

Easy Rider

The downhill glide from Hummingbird Estate sets the tone for a day of cycling. Pass the lush vineyards along the winding driveway of this five-suite inn; make a right turn. From here, it’s easy to visit several wineries without straying too far.

A ride from Hummingbird Estate south on Old Stage Road/Oregon Street can start at Rellik Winery, only a mile down the road. Venture into the downtown area, turning left on East California Street — the city’s main street — and look for Quady North’s tasting room at the corner of California and Fifth streets.

Daisy Creek Vineyard, another mile away, offers a third destination. Ride north on Fifth, turning right on Shafer Lane to find the winery beyond a driveway at the end of the road. Consider using safe, quiet residential streets for this part of the ride — Fifth Street (Highway 238) lacks a bike lane in some places.

Finish the excursion by returning to Hummingbird Estate where Kristina Alvarez and her staff pour wines made from their 17 acres of grapes as well as fruit other area vineyards. Alvarez, who relocated from the Midwest, appreciates the local climate that makes the Rogue Valley appealing to both grapes and cyclists.

“It’s so cool in the morning and there’s no humidity,” she said. “That makes winemaking and bicycling so nice here. The Rogue Valley has the largest diurnal (temperature) swing of any wine region in the world. That makes for good biking, too.”

Stretch the Legs

Some of the most beautiful area vineyards are found on a route from Jacksonville to the nearby town of Talent. Starting from Quady North, ride east on South Stage Road for a mile to DANCIN Vineyards. Traffic here may be busy at times, but the wide road shoulder allows a level of safety. A long, picturesque driveway to the DANCIN tasting room makes this an attractive stop. Consider DANCIN for a post-ride celebration: The patio is an excellent place to enjoy great food and sample Pinot Noir.

Back on the road, follow South Stage Road east in the direction of Pioneer Road and Stoneriver Vineyards. There are several routes, each with quiet country roads. Map an appealing route knowing this is hilly terrain. Some effort will be required.

Stoneriver Vineyards, boasting a spacious indoor tasting room and outdoor seating, is a regular stop for cyclists along Pioneer Road.

“I have a couple bike racks outside because I get cyclists here quite often,” tasting room manager Jamie Lange said. “Serious riders will stop just to take a break. Others will stop and hang out for a while and then circle back later (by car) when they’re finished riding because they want to buy wine.”

Extend the day with an easy, three-mile ride to the Trium Wines tasting room in downtown Talent. Looking for more? Follow Suncrest Road for two miles back into the countryside where Paschal Winery’s vines will appear and, no doubt, tempt.

A Different Loop

The Applegate Valley is a popular Southern Oregon wine destination, but Highway 238, extending from Jacksonville west to several wineries, is a densely traveled road with minimal shoulder space for safe cycling. Consider an alternative following the Applegate River south to Applegate Lake near the California border. Traffic is much lighter, even though road shoulders are nonexistent.

The primary challenges on this loop are two climbs that start and end this ride. Be sure to consult the online route map and profile (53 miles and 4,100 feet of elevation gain).

Enjoy a long downhill run after the initial climb before eventually turning on Upper Applegate Road, a winding country path lined with towering pines and occasional deer grazing in nearby fields.

Turn around at any time, but remember: This tour is incomplete without a rest stop at McKee Bridge, a historic covered bridge at the 21-mile mark. The structure and adjacent picnic ground make an ideal spot to rest. There’s also water on tap, a restroom and shelter from rain or excessive sun in the picnic area.

Continue to the Applegate Dam. The water there will look so refreshing you may be tempted to ride off the end of the fishing pier but keep going another mile or so, turn left and roll down to the water’s edge. There’s a small store, fresh drinking water and flush toilets at Hart-Tish Park and campgrounds. This makes a perfect turn-around point.

The return to Jacksonville retraces Upper Applegate Road north and on to Highway 238 for a final uphill climb into town. Once at the summit, it’s a swift drop into Jacksonville and an effortless ride to Doc Griffin Park.

Rogue Valley Resources

Route Map:

Rellik Winery:

Quady North:

Daisy Creek WIne:

DANCIN Vineyards:

Stoneriver Vineyards:

Trium Wines:

Paschal Winery:

Hummingbird Estate:

Southern Oregon Travel Info:

Applegate Lake Information:



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