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The Logging Road Maze: A Gravel Rider’s Backyard Paradise

Marin ambassador Lynnee Jacks on where and what she's been riding these last few months.

Marin rider Lynnee Jacks aside a Pine Mountain 2.

It’s been a wet winter on the Oregon Coast. Every attempt at a cold-weather overnighter has been thwarted by icy conditions or yet another sickness, but I had to keep my legs spinning and ready for spring.

I moved out to the Oregon Coast in October, just in time to watch the leaves turn and start getting the lay of the land in my new backyard. In a tiny town just off a river on Highway 101. Less than 500 people live here, and we’re surrounded by endless acres of state and managed forest land.

Logging road in rural Oregon.

My house sits at the base of a hill, and to get anywhere, first you have to go up. I start a steep climb up the neighborhood behind my house, and in about 20 minutes I’ve crossed over onto a gravel road, blocked off to cars, with a sign outlining the hours of usage and to always be on the lookout for logging trucks.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 frame detail.

The steady climb continues, and it’s quite the warm-up to start the day. But the Marin Pine Mountain 2 is made for adventures like this, and it makes for a pretty chill climb. After some slow switchbacks, I reach a peak, and I’m rewarded with sweeping views of remote mountains — impressive walls that are completely unexpected and out of nowhere — difficult to see from any highway. I feel like I’ve ridden into another world (at the very least it’s certainly a different micro-climate) and for a moment I’ve forgotten how close home is.


On the Oregon Coast, most of the riding is like this. Remote networks of logging roads sweep up and down the undulating mountainscape, taking you from dense forest canopy to bare mountain peaks. It’s a maze of roads that were built for the sole function of finding the quickest and most direct way to transport logs downhill — this means any given route will have dozens of potential offshoots and loops, or roads to nowhere. This maze of gravel makes for a perfect short adventure or long expedition as long as you’re armed with a good map.

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I pack up the lunch I’ve been eating on a tree stump and pack up my bike. Oftentimes I’ll take the Gestalt XR gravel bike out on these roads, but today I’ve opted for the hardtail. This is really the bike that does it all. It’s got a classic look that I love, and the ride quality is incredible – perfect for bouncing between gravel roads and the occasional singletrack I find on the coast.

But most importantly, it’s bikepacking ready with tons of space and mounting options for gear. I’m working on my full bikepacking setup for future rides, but for days like this I can just quickly attach a frame back to stash some snacks and an extra layer.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 in a logging area, Oregon.

Today I thought it would be nice to have the extra cushion and slightly bigger tire given the recent rain and possibly muddy conditions. I’m grateful I made that call, because a few of the offshoots I took today gave way to chunky loose rock.

But besides a few sections, the descent is fast and flowy.

Suddenly these roads that were designed for utility and function seem to be creatively and intuitively designed for a ride that gives the best angle of every sweeping view of my backyard wilderness.

As I ride, I’m thinking about the river that will be there to greet me at the bottom. Soon the bare mountainside will give way to dense, wet forest and a borderline tropical river that I will follow back to the main highway and then it’s just seven7 short miles back home.

Nehalem River outlet into the Pacific Ocean.

When I get back, It feels like I’ve been out for days in remote wilderness. The whole time I was out there, I never saw another person or car — but I did see the ocean and my own house from the highest peak in the Nehalem valley.

These are the kinds of adventures I’ve been living for this winter, and the bite-sized rides that are holding me over into spring. The potential for weaving together long rides from these logging roads is limitless — whether it be direct routes from sea to mountain top, or long routes that stay inland and traverse multiple passes. These privately owned roads are our playground — just respect signage and usage times, and this entire wilderness is waiting to be discovered.

Marin ambassador Lynnee Jacks and Oregon mountains.