Odyssey of the VOG: Northern Tier Weekender
Beginning in the middle of the Tillamook National Forest, the Mini-VOG: Northern Tier Weekender criss-crosses the the coastal range of the Pacific Northwest on quiet logging roads and scenic bikeways, offering up a taster tray glimpse of what the Growler-sized 350-mile Odyssey of the VOG route has to offer.
The Odyssey of the VOG (Valley of the Giants) gets its name from the 51 acres of massive old growth forest found on the North Fork Siletz River at the western edge of Polk County. Most of these huge trees are Douglas-firs, with a few large western hemlocks as well, many of which are close to 500 years in age.
The Mini-VOG: Northern Tier Weekender doesn’t venture far enough south to explore this beautiful old-growth forest but keeps it’s big brother’s namesake as part of the Odyssey of the VOG circuit. Instead, the Northern Tier Weekender follows much of the northern section of the Grand Depart route with a few added timber company roads we can’t feature in the Grand Depart due to permitting but that are absolutely beautiful and worth checking out. Overall, the Northern Tier boasts tamer gravel, views of the Oregon Coast, a 20 mile ride along the Oregon Coast Scenic Bikeway (paved) and the always enjoyable pitstop at Pelican Brewing in Tillamook.
While it’s not quite as rugged as its southern tier counterpart, don’t expect the Northern Tier Weekender to be easy riding. It may not be as chunky or isolated as the Southern Tier, but the Northern Tier still has its fair share of monster climbs, white-knuckled descents, breathtaking ridgeline views, oceanfront roads, and even a bit of quiet farmland - a great route to dust off those winter legs. Northern Tier is a diverse riding opportunity that showcases the rural Willamette Valley, the rugged coast range, and the expansive Oregon Coast, all within the span of 130 miles.
Overall Difficulty: 5/10
While this route is quite physically demanding with a LOT of elevation gain, it also has an easy middle-of-the-route resupply point, an abundance of water, and some highway bailout options.
Technical Difficulty: 4 - This route is pretty tame overall. It’s about a 65/35 gravel to pavement ratio, but the gravel throughout the ride is very rideable.
Physical Demand: 7 - While not technical riding, the Mini-VOG Northern Tier has multiple 2,000+ foot climbs that can really catch up to you after a while. It is definitely a route for people accustomed to hour+ climbs multiple times throughout a day’s ride.
Resupply: 3 - The town of Tillamook has gas stations, markets, and even a Safeway for resupply, and there are streams and rivers throughout the ride. Resupply should not be a problem for most riders.
Seth and Ben are the sole creators of the Odyssey of the VOG Triple Crown of routes. They spent hundreds of hours pouring over maps (#ridewithgps), riding into deadends and rerouting, checking in with timber companies about land use, and the list goes on.
Recommended Number of Days: 2-3
Rideable: 100% (in theory)