Bates Road packs in amazing views of the Oregon Coast Range, a knife-edge ridge to drive along, fun and challenging trails, and the small but real chance of serious vehicle damage. The ridge narrows down to a knife edge in several points with the road running right at the crest. Those who take their eyes off the road are rewarded with views to the north and east across the patchwork of clearcuts and timber. Deep dug out sections of trail make for moments of slipping, moments of unexpected gripping, and occasional heart-pumping moments of a barely controlled descent down steep slopes. This is not a trail that Trails Offroad suggests as a first time 4x4 driving experience for beginners. This is a trail that Trails Offroad recommends for adventure and challenge.
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From the town of Banks, head west on Oregon Highway 6 toward Tillamook for nineteen miles (three miles west of signs for Brown's Camp). Turn left onto Bates Road. There is a large gravel pull-out. Fern Rock Falls is located at the southeast end of the gravel pull-out and the start of Bates Road is at the southwest end of the pull-out.
Due to high fire danger, the Tillamook State Forest is closing all OHV trails as of 1am on Friday June 25th. At this time the gravel roads in the TSF are still open for OHV use but all the trails are shut down.
The Tillamook State Forest is now in the "regulated use" portion of fire season. Please check fire danger before you go to the Tillamook State Forest and plan accordingly including minimum equipment you are required to carry while in the forest.
TSF general information: http://tillamookstateforest.blogspot.com/p/fire-season.html
More information and links to current fire danger: https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx
Andrew and I ran this in our Cherokees on March 15, 2020. His is a slightly modified WK and mine is a slightly modified XJ. This is a very fun trail. There was a bit of patchy snow but not too bad, although it did ad an extra element to this trail. With some good traction and a little care this trail is doable with little lift and does not require large tires, My Jeep has a 4" lift and 31' inch tires. Make sure your brakes are working good though and your tires have plenty of traction. Check out my full trail video from University Falls Road all the way out to Hwy 6 for more information.
Trails in the Tillamook State Forest are open again after a brief closure due to fire weather. Please be safe out in the forest, carry appropriate fire extinguishing equipment, and don't have open flames. More details are at: http://tillamookstateforest.blogspot.com/2019/08/ohv-trails-open.html
The Tillamook State Forest is under fire restrictions and all OHV trails are temporarily closed. More information is available at: http://tillamookstateforest.blogspot.com/2019/08/high-fire-danger-level-ohv-trails-closed.html
The dirt portions of the trail are closed due to high fire danger. The gravel portions are open but likely not for long. http://tillamookstateforest.blogspot.com/2018/07/tsf-ohv-trails-closing-on-wednesday.html
This trail is hella fun! Good views up on top and that descent is a blast. My buddy in a Jeep Cherokee kept locking up all four wheels on the descent. Got a little hairy for me, too. I wouldn't want to try that in the snow or ice.
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Douglas grew up riding in the back of pickups in Oregon and California. He comes from a long line of overlanders and adventurers dating back to the Mayflower and the Oregon Trail. During a stint working in Colorado, Douglas fell in love with the offroad scene and immediately gravitated toward the Toyota crowd. His first 4x4 was a 1988 Toyota 4runner nicknamed Goldilocks. After a year of running many of the iconic trails throughout the front range in the fully stock Goldilocks running on bald tires, it was time for an upgrade. Goldilocks went off to a new home and the Albino Rhino came home. The Albino Rhino is a built 1986 Toyota 4runner ready for any adventure anywhere at any time.
During the week, Douglas works on systems engineering and architecture problems in California. Douglas also enjoys backpacking -- especially in the central Sierras in California -- scuba diving along the Oregon and California coasts, and riding his motorcycle on the Pacific Coast Highway. Most weeknights you can find Douglas under his truck in the driveway performing maintenance or fixing the latest trail damage.
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