By Randy Dreiling
*This entry is a continuation of Adventures in Mountain Biking, posted on 3/28/2007

Randy Dreiling, one of our resident mountain biking gurus, has decided to share his favorite biking trails in Oregon. Read on to discover a new trail- and start ridin’!

The Middle Fork of the Willamette Trail is approximately 40+ miles one-way, is technically difficult the higher you go and moderately strenuous, and consists primarily of single-track. The trail follows the river, as well as the historic Oregon Central Military Wagon Road. If you shuttle to the top your ride will begin at over 5,000 feet and the ride ends less than 1,500 feet elevation. The ride just keeps going and going…mile after mile of single track. This our favorite EPIC ride. This ride has many starting points that allow for a 5-40+ mile ride. The top of the Middle Fork Trail is the gateway to a great trail system that includes Indigo and June Lakes, Sawtooth, Cowhorn and other ride loops. We suggest only intermediate-advanced riders for the whole 40 mile Middle Fork ride.

North Shore Trail follows the north shore of the Lookout Point Reservoir (hence the name). It is a portion of the Eugene to Crest Trail, a lengthy ride that will take you from the city of Eugene to Waldo Lake. This particular stretch of trail is 17 miles long, and is moderately technical. The single-track varies, from wide, easy, pristine trail to rutty, rocky, steep and stumpy sections. A couple of tricky creek crossings will have the most agile of bikers testing their skills. It´s a challenging and fun ride. The length of your ride will vary depending upon your entrance and exit point; if you choose not to ride back on the single-track, the trail meets the gravel road in several places which will take you back to your starting point as well. Elevation gain on this trail amounts to less than 100 feet.

Larison Rock Trail is best when shuttled to the top (only $10), so you can hit other trails while in town, but if you decide to ride, this ride combines a steep climb on a paved logging road with a steep descent down a single-track. This tour is available as either a cross country ride or a shuttled downhill. The first part of the ride is a climb of about 500 vertical feet per mile! Burn, baby, burn! This trail is fast and fun! (trail is 4.5 miles) Are you up to it?! Once you´re at the end of the single track, it´s a measly 1.7 miles back to your car at Greenwaters Park via a gravel road and single track. Woo-hoo!

Goodman Loop Trail is the ride that can challenge the most experienced riders. This ride has some of the best single-track riding in Oregon and plenty of fun, fast, downhill single-track down hill. Miles can vary depending on ability and experience. Shuttle to the top or the ride starts out from the gravel parking area of Goodman Creek Trail and warms the rider up with a quick steep climb. It then drops and follow a small creek with small rolling climbs and drops. The trail eventually turns to a gradual single-track climb with lots of fun sections. From here it connects to Lost Creek Trail, and then down Hardest Mt. and back to Goodman Creek; or, for more miles and climbing , a more experienced rider can head over to Eula Ridge Trail. Then the loop incorporates South Willamette Trail and can be used in conjunction with or without Saw Tooth Trail for even more miles and fun technical riding. The combination of these trails provides some of the most rewarding climbs and enjoyable single track riding around. Other great trails in the area include Lawler and Eagles Rest.

Our Favorite Trails
Alpine Trail (20-50 miles) – The Crown Jewel. – Shuttle to the top. Smooth and fast, with breathtaking panoramic views. Once you hit the trail, there is a little work, some minor technical, and then it’s all downhill for over three hours! Lots of loops and offshoot options including: Tire Mt, Cloverpath, North Fork and more…

Larison Creek – Highly technical single-track, particularly at the top. TShuttle or the ride starts from Oakridge, up three miles of paved road, then ten of gradually climbing fire road to the trailhead. The creek ride is the perfect test of skill and courage. Extreme switchbacks, exposed roots, and stream crossings are a few of the challenges. About halfway down, it opens up and lets you ride, almost continually.

Larison Rock – Fun, short, and quick, with patches of technical. Shuttle or a five-mile paved climb from camp puts you at the trailhead. The trail winds down the hills over camp. Although mostly smooth and fast, it slows down for some steep narrows and tight spots.

Heckle Tooth (20-50 miles) – The other epic ride – Shuttle to the top or An easy ride from Oakridge puts you on the Salmon Creek Trail. Then it is up the fire lane, how far is your choice – the higher, the harder. The 20-mile loop climbs for six-miles before you enter the trail, a speed zone through the rolling hills and generous switchbacks. The 35-mile loop adds elevation plus climbing. It is only a steep climb in a couple of spots early and the reward is that you ride down the edge of the mountains. The 50-miler is a rider’s ride – tight, technical switchbacks and obstacles reward the extra climb. Not for the weak!

Salmon Creek – A beautiful ride up the river to the Salmon Creek Falls. This flat, groomed trail runs right through Oakridge and includes a variety of local points of interest along the ride. There are no hills or obstacles. A straight round trip is about 12 miles. For a harder Option: Cross the Salmon Creek Bridge for rolling hills with some technical patches. Gain some vertical with a trip up Dead Mountain then back on the Flat Creek Trail.

Middle Fork- Our favorite EPIC ride. 40+ miles one way. Awesome trail that follows the Willamette River. The higher you go the harder the trail. Our advice? Shuttle to the top and enjoy the ride all the way back. Plan to ride all day if riding the whole trail. We suggest intermediate-advanced riders only ride the whole 40+ mile ride. We offer shorter rides of 5-25 miles for people of all skill levels.

Additional – There are many additional trails. Oakridge/Westfir is just loaded with great options for riding – no matter your skill level.

Photos by Chad Sageser, www.backcountryproductions.com

-Randy Dreiling

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