Fall colors can be seen in this 2013 photo taken along Highway 99 approaching the city of Rogue River from Gold Hill. - Photo by Janice Johnson

Route to fall color in Southern Oregon

One of the prettier routes in the Rogue Valley for observing fall colors is the Gold Hill-Wimer-Rogue River Loop.

This 50-mile route follows Highway 234 north of Gold Hill, then exits the highway, passes through Sams Valley, climbs northward along the west slopes of Cinnabar Mountain, winds downhill along East Evans Creek, passes through Wimer, the Evans Valley, Rogue River and ends back at Gold Hill. At this time of year this ride will reward you with plenty of vibrant, colored, fall foliage, and possible sightings of wild turkey, deer, raptors and other wildlife.

I like to start this ride in Gold Hill and proceed in a counter-clockwise loop back to the start. Leaving Gold Hill on Highway 234 (Second Street), turn left on Dardanelles Street, cross the railroad tracks, then turn right on Fourth Street, heading east. Follow Highway 234 (Sams Valley Highway) along the Rogue River, passing Gold Hill Recreational Park on the right.

After five miles, turn left on Ramsey Road, then right on Old Sams Valley Road.

This 3½-mile detour gets you off busy Highway 234 and follows a flat route, with much less traffic, through Sams Valley and then back to Highway 234. At the intersection of Old Sams Valley Road and Highway 234, turn left onto the highway. After a half mile, turn left on Table Rock Road, passing Sams Valley Elementary School and then take a sharp right-hand bend onto Webber Road.

Turn left on Meadows Road, which gradually climbs for the first two miles. Then you start a three- to four-percent grade that takes you along the west slopes of Cinnabar Mountain, summiting at mile 15.5.

The climb is followed by a series of downhill curves for about two miles. At the intersection of East Evans Creek Road (mile 17.3), turn left and enjoy roughly 15 miles of rolling hills that drop at an average three- to four-percent grade all the way to Wimer.

This stretch is where you will see the most fall colors as you wind along the road following the East Fork of Evans Creek. As you drop in elevation, you can pick up some pretty high speeds.

If you want to see the fall colors and safely negotiate the many turns on this narrow road, I suggest you use the brakes judiciously. Slow down and enjoy the view.

When you arrive at Wimer, your odometer should read close to 31 miles. There is a nice little market on the left by the old covered bridge as you come into town. I like to stop here to refuel.

If you take this route on weekends during the summer, you might catch the market owners cooking hamburgers on the grill near their outside patio.

From Wimer, continue east on East Evans Creek Road, which makes a sharp left turn about a half-mile after leaving town. A quarter-mile farther, at the intersection of East Evans Creek Road and Queens Branch Road, you have two choices to get to Rogue River. You can continue on East Evans Creek Road or you can take my favorite route, which has less traffic.

For my favorite route, turn right on Queens Branch Road, then left on West Evans Creek Road. Stay on West Evans Creek Road all the way back to Rogue River. West Evans Creek Road and East Evans Creek Road intersect with West Main Street in Rogue River.

Turn right on West Main Street, then onto East Main Street. Make a right turn onto North River Road, which parallels I-5. Follow North River Road for approximately 10 miles back to Gold Hill.

This route provides a nice ride almost any time of the year. However, when the foliage shows its multiple colors in the fall, it becomes extra special. Enjoy the scenery and have a great ride.

— Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.

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