The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway — the first official scenic bikeway in the United States — follows its namesake river as it winds through the Valley, past beautiful fields and farmland, through charming burgs and historic downtowns. The Salem stretch of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway offers its own special charm, taking cyclists past farm markets bursting with berries, hop fields, vineyards, wineries and even a wildlife refuge.
The Salem portion of the Bikeway starts at Champoeg State Heritage Area, where you can park your car or camp overnight in a tent, cozy cabin or yurt the day before your journey. The 35-mile stretch from Champoeg to the city of Salem meanders along mostly flat, scenic country roads.
As you enter Salem, be sure to stop at EZ Orchards Farm Market, where they serve up smoothies, shakes and shortcake, made with berries fresh from the farm. As you cycle towards downtown, you’ll pass the historic Oregon State Capitol grounds, filled with fragrant roses and bright rhododendrons that bloom throughout the summer. For a hearty meal in downtown Salem featuring fresh ingredients, try Bo & Vine Burger Bar, Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails or Taproot Lounge. To make it a leisurely two-day trip, stay overnight at the Century House B&B – a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century home located just a ½ mile off the Bikeway in the heart of town.
As you leave town heading south, you’ll find Ankeny Wildlife Refuge, a 2,492-acre wetland and haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. At nearby Ankeny Vineyards, enjoy a glass of estate grown wine and a slice of wood-fired pizza. As you continue along the bikeway to the Independence Bridge, take a slight detour over the bridge and head to Rogue Hop Yard – Rogue Ales’ 33-acre working hop farm and tasting room. Enjoy a farmstead ale made with honey and hops grown on the farm and tour the processing facility for a first-hand look at how hops are harvested and prepared before they become a key ingredient in craft brew.
For more ideas about what to see and do on a cycling adventure through the Salem region, go to www.travelsalem.com.