Summer in the Oregon Mountains
I have been blogging all winter/spring about what to do in the Oregon Mountains…well it’s summer and there is still plenty of fun to be had in the beautiful white-capped Oregon Mountains (and surrounding areas)!
Oregon astounds me sometimes.
It is a place that always seems to keep me smiling. Every time I visit a new area, I think: I have been in Oregon for 10 years, and this is the first time I have been here? What have I been doing all of this time?
There are hidden gems in every valley, on every mountain top and in every small town you have never traveled through. (This photo to the left was taken at one of the beautiful sections from the Alpine Trail outside of Oakridge, OR.) Get out a map of Oregon, highlight every route and every community you have visited or traveled through. See all of the roads and places that aren’t highlighted? Plan a trip there. One at a time, as I am sure your wish list is too comprehensive to do all at once (I know mine is)! Visit TravelOregon’s website and get a glimpse of what you have been missing, then pack the car and take a road trip.
You will be amazed at what you find out there.
This was the case in visiting the Oakridge area in the summer. My friend, Dave and I have skied/snowboarded Willamette Pass several times and both have had phenomenal conditions and experiences…but the Oakridge area in the summer? We were pleasantly surprised to find a thriving mountain bike community there.
Dave, my great companion on this road trip summed it up nicely on the drive back to Portland: “Oakridge embraces the mountain biking culture, like how the French and Oregonians embrace cheese and wine.”
We contacted Randy with a company called Oregon Adventures. Randy started his business in the early 1990′s as a dream, now there is a focus on tours, shuttle services and events. The shuttle service is growing at a very nice pace, and Randy says that “Oakridge/Westfir will become as well known as Moab [UT], Downieville [CA] and other hot mountain biking spots within three to five years.”
Many of Randy’s clients are passionate mountain bike riders that travel the west looking for the “hot spots” of mountain biking. Randy told us a story on the way up: he was shuttling a couple from Redding, CA up to the Alpine Trail, and they mentioned hearing about Oakridge during a shuttle trip in Downieville, CA. They were told if they are to ride anywhere, it needs to be Moab, Downieville or Oakridge, Oregon…so the couple made the trip and will surely be back, as the riding is phenomenal, the surrounding area has endless opportunties for recreation, the pricing is great and the people are fantastic (this is Oregon we’re talking about).
We booked the shuttle service for a Saturday morning ride up the moutain to the top of Alpine Trail.
We arrived at the meeting spot, a quaint little coffee shop in the middle of Oakridge. There were 5 other cars there, equipped with bikes on the roof and attached to the bumper. The large Oregon Adventures van pulled up into the parking lot was soon loading bikes on top of the spacious passenger van.
We were soon in our cars, following the van to the bottom of the Alpine Trail. We were to drop our vehicles at the bottom of the trail (near the longest covered bridge in Oregon – photo), and load up into the van for our trip up the mountain. The ride up to the top of the Alpine Trail was about 25-30 minutes, in which two locals proceeded to give us some background and details about the upcoming ride.
At the top, we unloaded and everyone was gone in a flash…most were returning for the second, third or even 26th time. This was our first and we enjoyed it. We like to play a quick game of Hacky-Sack before we start our ride. It seems to loosen up the legs, gets the heart pumping and also creates some chemistry and great communication/teamwork between my friends and I.
Needless to say, the Alpine Trail was amazing. From top to bottom, we used a full 3 hours of our time. We stopped plenty along the way, as some parts of the trail push you out of the woods and onto singletrack that offer phenomenal views of the valleys, rolling hills, and mountain tops.
I believe it is about a 3,000 foot vertical drop on the Alpine Trail, but it isn’t a quick drop, it is a fun, winding trail that offers everything a singletrack mountain bike trail could offer – great terrain, winding banks, white-knuckle descents, technical switchbacks and ridiculous views. I actually ran out of space on my camera, as the amount of video and pictures I could have taken, I would have needed several gigs of memory to hold.
After the final descent, we were dropped along a beautiful flowing river, and some well-deserved accomplishment celebration was in store. We went back and forth on the longest covered bridge in Oregon on our bikes, explored just a bit of the old mill that used to be at the bottom of this beautiful hill and headed back to town.
After the ride we went to explore the Warm Springs that is right outside of Oakridge. This place was gorgeous! And nobody was there, so it could be a hidden gem. If you are lucky or adventurous enough to find this place, please leave it as you found it (or better). Thanks.
The following day we headed to Willamette Pass Ski Area to ride the Eagle Peak Gondola to the top and mountain bike down. There are some serious downhill bikers at the area, and some gnarly trails to ride. There are a couple of easy ways down, but make sure your brakes are well-equipped, as you will be dropping 1800 vertical feet, with views of Lake Odell and Diamond Peak as you descend.
A lot of the downhill riders were equipped with mountain bikes that had shocks and suspension that resembled motorcycles/dirt bikes. There are some very technical trails with man-made features (obstacles) and sharp drops from tree roots and other natural terrain. My friend was riding a hard tail (a bike without rear suspension/shock), and he managed the trails very well. I had a soft tail (bike with rear suspension/shock) and was still feeling very uneasy about some of the stuff we were doing. We did find the EZR trail and had a great time exploring that trail, it suited our skills perfectly.
After mountain biking, we headed down to the café and got some great lunch. Then we put the bikes away and played 18 holes of Disc Golf. If you are unfamiliar with Disc Golf, you can learn more here.
If you like playing Frisbee and/or golf, it is something you should look into. There are Disc Golf Courses (DGC) all over Oregon. The beauty is, once you have a disc or Frisbee, its FREE! Several Oregon Ski Areas offer disc golf courses, including Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl and Willamette Pass. The rules are very similar to regular golf, except you’re throwing a Frisbee / Disc into a Basket / Disc Catcher (photo). It is a lot of fun, and will give you a reason to get out in the beautiful Oregon outdoors and explore some areas you might not have ever hiked around.
The following weekend Dave, Katy, Leianna and I set out on another adventure in/around Central Oregon. We combined a fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, concert trip near Mt. Bachelor/Bend. We rode our mountain bikes on some awesome singletrack: Whoops Trail, in the Phil’s Tail complex; and the Deschutes River Trail to a swimming spot on the Deschutes River.
If you enjoy mountain biking, you MUST check out the Whoops Trail and the network of Phil’s Trails near Bend, OR. There are some Oregon Classics and will have you planning a trip there annually.
This is just 3 or 4 days in the Oregon Mountains…wish I had more time to explore and tell you all about it. Unfortunately, after 10 years in Oregon, I am moving back to my hometown this summer – Houston, TX. I know it will be a drastic change, but sometimes we all have to do some things that we did not plan on doing. The key is to try and enjoy everything you do, no matter where you are, or what kind of situation you are in.
Thank you to everyone that has read my Ski Oregon Blog. There should be a new individual telling his or her stories very soon. I just have one last video to leave you with…it’s me mis-timing a snow-patch ride in the beautiful Oregon Mountains; thanks.
Below are links to the Oregon Ski Areas and some fun activities they offer throughout the summer months:
Weddings and retreats
Hiking and camping
Weddings, events, catering
Summer sightseeing, sunset dinners, disc golf, hiking
Mt. Hood Meadows
Mt. Hood Skibowl
Adventure Park, disc golf, mountain biking, hiking and much more
Ski Anthony Lakes
Weddings, reunions, retreats, parties and hiking
Skiing and snowboarding, summer music series
Summer sightseeing, Gondola rides, disc golf, mtn biking, and hiking
Happy trails and safe travels to you all!!