McMinnville Peavine Climb
Something that’s easy to overlook when people explore wine country is that, beyond the valley floors and rolling vineyard hillsides, Oregon’s wild and lush Coast Range is just a few miles away. If you’d like a bit of climbing challenge and love the low traffic of gravel roads, here’s a ride that takes you from the heart of a vibrant community, into the peaceful isolation of the forest, and back – all in 41 miles.
Oh, yeah: You’ll also pass near multiple wineries along the way, in case you’d like to make a stop or two. One other note: Make sure you have tires you’re comfortable with on gravel – the gravel segments can be more loose than hard-packed.
Start on 3rd Street in downtown McMinnville, which offers a bustling, eclectic mix of food, drink and shopping that can both fuel your ride and also serve as motivation to finish it.
After 3.5 miles getting out of town, a right turn puts you on Peavine Road, this route’s namesake. And once you’re on Peavine, feel the civilized world gradually fade away as you head up into the foothills of the Coast Range.
Yes, “head up” means this is where the work starts. Just before 5 miles, warm up with a mile of gentle rise. Then it’s about 4 miles of real climbing, during which you’ll gain 700-plus feet. Don’t forget to consider the views back down into the valley behind you – if needed, they provide an excellent reason to stop and take a photo.
Just after you pass Powerhouse Hill Road on the right, about 10.3 miles in, the pavement ends and the adventure ramps up. Riding gravel, you’ll encounter a short series of false summits as you make your way up to a maximum elevation of 1,300 feet – well over 1,000 feet above the valley below.
The climbing is more gradual after that, and you’ll top out right about mile 14. It’s through this section you’ll also notice fewer and fewer signs of settlement, as you pedal through forest stands of varying ages and enjoy some dramatic views. Once you turn onto Gopher Valley Road, you’ll cross a series of creek drainages on your way back down over 5 miles of low-effort descent.
It’s not until you’ve dropped into Dupee Valley and turned onto Grauer Road – when you see center stripes on the road – that you realize you’re heading back into the normal world.
Soon after, you’ll pass Coleman Vineyards, where you can stop to sample some pinot noir while enjoying valley views. And next up is the tiny crossroads burg of Bellevue – where the Bellevue Country Store may surprise you with its comprehensive offerings, including bike repair supplies, gourmet coffee, picnic fixings and house-made caramels. Riding back toward McMinnville, you’ll also pass near Maysara Vineyards.
There are a couple short side trips to consider. At Bellevue, you can zip down Highway 18 a short stretch south to the Mason Rivera Sculpture Garden and Art Gallery, which features a walk through metal and carved-concrete works. And just before mile 34, you can take McCabe Chapel Road to the right for a few hundred yards to the namesake Methodist church, still active more than 130 years after its founding.
From here it’s a gentle cruise back to town, where you can enjoy the amenities of a bountiful community in the middle of wine country. But at least for a few hours, you’ve gone far off the beaten path – without traveling all that far.