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Our View: Scenic Bikeway is another way to put Ashland on the map

Along with several other firsts, Oregon has the only official Scenic Bikeways program in the nation. So far there are 12 designated routes showcasing some of the best scenery the state has to offer, with one glaring omission: There is no Scenic Bikeway south of Eugene.

That is likely to change if backers of the proposed Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway succeed in getting the new route designated by the state Parks and Recreation Department. Travel Oregon is co-hosting a workshop on the proposal next week, along with the Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway Proponent Group.

The proposed route would cover a 55-mile loop starting and ending in Ashland. The route would head east up Highway 66 to the Greensprings. turn north past Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes, then back to Ashland via Dead Indian Memorial Road.

The route features more than a mile of vertical climbing, and shows off the unique blend of ecosystems at the intersection of the Klamath, Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges.

Scenic bikeways cater to the growing cycle tourism market, drawing serious cyclists to the area and benefiting businesses along the route. No special bike lanes are involved; the routes follow established roads.

The bikeway is now in the recommended phase. Anyone interested in helping plan is encouraged to attend the workshop Wednesday, March 18 at The Grove. Register and get more details at Industry.TravelOregon.com/CascadeSiskiyou.

Other official bikeway locations in Oregon include the McKenzie Pass, the Tualatin Valley and the Blue Mountains. The Cascade-Siskiyou certainly deserves to be among them,