They don’t leave much doubt about the remote and risky nature of these climbs!
Bear Camp West (Top 100 U.S. Climb)
Cycling Bear Camp West is a Top 100 U.S. Bike Climb and that ranking is well deserved. The ascent is brutal and the descent one of the most difficult (dare we use the “T” word?? . . .Treacherous) we have ever encountered. We initially ascended from the east for the 20 miles to Bear Camp Overlook, then began the 16 mile descent to the Rogue River and beginning of the western ascent. The “roadway” has by our rough estimate 6 short gravel sections and several extremely slick mossy patches that can prove quite perilous to the unwary, particularly in damp and/or rainy conditions. The roadway is single lane, very narrow and windy.
The Climb begins on the NF-23 (just east of the Rogue River) in an extremely remote section of southern Oregon at the "intersection" of Agness Road and NF-23, 30 miles along the Rogue River east of the Pacific Ocean and Gold Beach, OR)
That is a road sign in these parts - Forest Road 23.
However, what we lose on the rating scale for hazard-of-descent, we gain on the ascent – the term “Epic” was created to describe climbs such as Bear Camp West. For those with a profound sense of adventure who are not risk averse, this is a must-do climb. Caveat: the sign at the beginning of the eastern approach (photo) may be a bit of an exaggeration, but only by a slight margin – this is a climb that is best done with one or more other cyclists and SAG support. We have good views of the heavily wooded coastal mountains as we ascend up a very narrow roadway that is often bordered by a steep cliff on one side (of course there is no guard rail). The climb alone would warrant the trip at 16 miles, 6% average grade gaining 4,600’ in that brief distance, and make this a Grade “A” HC category climb.
Top of the climb.
Final note: It’s not easy to get to, but it’s worth the effort! It’s a Bucket List Climb.
Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 3.8 (8.5%) and steepest mile at 2 (7.9%)
Bear Camp East
Wow! Read and heed the sign (photo) – this is an all-time classic warning sign and is a bit appropriate as we barely finished this one, getting ourselves into a pickle with adverse weather towards the top of the climb (and then pushing on down and then back up the western Bear Camp ascent – when will we learn!). Beware that there are NO provisions and very little traffic and no civilization on this ultra-remote climb – well, that’s why it is EPIC! The east side of Bear Camp is a tale of 3 climbs (a) the first 4 miles are at 3%, (b) the next 5 miles are at 8.2%, gaining 2,350’ and (c) the final 11 miles are back to 3% average grade. We are surrounded by forest which borders the roadway most of the ascent, thus blocking distant views. There is a viewpoint at the end of the climb “Bear Camp Overlook” in fact! However, we were there on a miserable rainy overcast day which drastically limited views from the upper section of the climb. The roadway surface is very rough and this is a single lane road. There is very little traffic and the traffic we encountered was slow to react to us – we are certain drivers do not expect to see cyclists out there, so be very cautious.
Enter the National Forest at 13.4
Old sign - forest as of 2004 is the combined Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Established 2004; 1,723,179 acres.
It was miserable weather during our May, 2016 trip.
Source: The Weather Channel and Wikipedia.