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MailTribune.com
  • Families on Wheels

    Tips for places to go free-wheeling with the kids
  • From mountain parks to picturesque little towns and greenways, Southern Oregon offers all sorts of options for family-friendly bike rides.
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  • From mountain parks to picturesque little towns and greenways, Southern Oregon offers all sorts of options for family-friendly bike rides.
    Just about anywhere on the Bear Creek Greenway offers great riding for families with children, says Jenna Stanke, bicycle pedestrian manager for Jackson County Parks.
    "The whole greenway is family friendly," with numerous access points and parking areas for those who can't easily ride to the path, she notes.
    Stanke recommends planning other activities when riding with family along the nearly 18-mile path that stretches from Ashland to Central Point, because the path is dotted with other attractions, including ballfields, a nature center, parks and nearby places to eat.
    Blue Heron Park in Phoenix and Bear Creek and Hawthorne parks in Medford are along the path and offer playgrounds for children who might want a break from cycling. U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford is another good area for stops, with ballfields and the Coyote Trails Nature Center.
    "What we like to do with our family is ride and bribe with food," says Stanke. "It's a great family outing to ride to Talent and have pizza or food and then ride back."
    Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association secretary Derek Starr, a bike mechanic, says Jacksonville is another excellent place for rides with kids, because the streets are generally calm away from the main routes.
    "It's a good spot for parks and places to eat," says Starr. He notes the town offers historic attractions for times when riders are tired.
    Residential areas in Central Point and Medford can offer parents the chance to ride with kids to nearby playgrounds and schoolyards, say Starr and Stanke. Parents should scout low-traffic routes in advance.
    "In Central Point, you can ride on Pine Street with a bike lane," says Starr. "There's the neighborhood by the elementary school. It's flat. You don't want to be pushing them up hills."
    Another place to get away from cars in Medford is Prescott Park. The 1,740-acre park features numerous trails, and plans are underway to add multiple new hiking and biking trails. But be prepared to work. From the first gate in the park to the Roxy Ann picnic area, the road is composed of packed and loose gravel. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very steep, it is a consistent 3, according to the city's website.
    Kids from 7 to 10 are now getting into mountain biking, says Starr. Woodland trails starting at the Britt Festival grounds in Jacksonville offer opportunities for families who want to experience the sport on gentle paths.
    "You don't force kids into mountain biking," says Starr. "If they like it, you kind of fulfill that and get them educated."
    The Rogue River Greenway provides a nice ride along the river from Depot Street in Rogue River for two miles to Valley of the Rogue State Park, says Stanke.
    Another family-friendly area Stanke recommends is Stewart State Park at Lost Creek Reservoir, which has 6.1 miles of paved bike paths. There's no day-use fee at the area located beyond Shady Cove on Highway 62.
    Lake of the Woods resort on Highway 140 offers compacted gravel trails that work for family rides, says resort manager George Gregory. There's a $5 day-use fee.
    A family trail runs from the lake's east side starting at Sunset Campground and heading north where it connects to the High Lakes Trail, which runs to Fish Lake. The High Lakes Trail, also compacted gravel, has more challenging sections that may not work for families.
    The trail connects the Aspen Campgrounds and Rainbow Bay day-use area to the resort area. Extensions run to the Great Meadow area. Gregory is working with the Forest Service to extend the trail around the lake, but that is probably a couple years away, he says.
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