Middle Tier - West
These loop routes are few miles to the west of Big Elk Campground on Hilltop Road (NF-31) and feature Gopher Ridge Road and Gopher Creek Road. The former is a gated and decommissioned logging road that is slowly devolving into a single track trail. The latter is an exceptionally scenic gravel road. Three loops are possible: Two smaller ones (using either Gopher Ridge Road or Gopher Creek Road) or one big loop using both roads. These routes are described below.
Gopher Creek Road Loop
Distance and elevation gain: 11 miles and 970' of climbing. If you add NF-1100: 15 miles and 1500' of climbing.
Description: A very pleasant 11 mile loop route with under 1000' of climbing, with the option to extend the route to 15 miles. The route features three pretty coast range waterways: Gopher Creek, Meadow Creek, and Drift Creek. The later is a major waterway in the Coast Range that meanders through the nearby Drift Creek Wilderness and flows into Alsea Bay near Waldport. The route begins at the the intersection of Hilltop Road (NF-31) and Gopher Creek Road (NF-3125). It loses almost 500' of elevation in the first mile before descending more gradually for the next 4 miles to a bridge over Drift Creek on 1000 Line Road. It begins the return journey by following 1000 Line Road to the north. At about mile 7, it turns east on Hilltop Road and, in the only significant climb on the route, gains about 750' of elevation over 4.5 miles to return to the starting point.
Options: At mile 5.5, NF-1100 heads south for 2.2 miles along Drift Creek. This worthwhile out-and-back adds 4.3 miles and 475' of climbing to the route.
Parking: The route begins at the intersection of NF-31 and Gopher Creek Road (location: 44.536500, -123.803972). Alternative parking is available at the Gopher Ridge Lower Trailhead (location: 44.527806, -123.820389).
Gopher Ridge Road Loop
Distance and elevation gain: 8 miles and 1400' of climbing.
Description: Gopher Ridge Road (NF-3120) is a decommissioned logging road that is a segment of the C2C Trail and is most suited for hikers and mountain bikers due to frequent waterbar crossings. The route starts at a large parking area just off Bull Run Road (NF-3119) one mile south of Hilltop Road. It climbs Bull Run Road for 1.4 miles to the Gopher Ridge Upper Trailhead, gaining almost 300' of elevation. It then descends Gopher Ridge Road for about 3 miles with 1200' of elevation loss. The return route turns north on Gopher Creek Road (NF-3125) and gains almost 500' in elevation as it climbs to Hilltop Road (NF-31) in about a mile. It proceeds on Hilltop Road for 1.3 miles without any significant climbing. It returns to the starting point via Bull Run Road (NF-3119), gaining about 300' in elevation in just over a mile.
Parking: I recommend starting the route from a large parking area just off Bull Run Road (NF-3119) one mile south of Hilltop Road (location 44.525972, -123.771111). Alternatively, you could park at the Gopher Ridge Upper Trailhead where Bull Run Road (NF-3119) meets Gopher Ridge Road (NF-3120) (location: 44.513806, -123.774722).
Double Gopher Loop
Ride with GPS Route (courtesy of Mid-Valley Bicycle Club)
Description: This route combines the two routes described above into one big loop.
Distance and elevation gain: 17 miles and 2000' of climbing
Elevation profile: see below.
Camping is available at Big Elk Campground (location map) and dispersed camping in the Siuslaw National Forest.