Dirt love, deep in the Coast Range.
If you want true MTB fun, find trails built by your fellow dirt fanatics. The Alsea Falls Trail System is a prime example of a playground designed by the kids who want to play on it. This is the work of a dedicated team of both professional and volunteer trail builders, and their labor of love shows out. And of course they included a lot of fun toys: berms, jumps, booters, rock gardens… and more berms.
The setting is a big part of the scene here – the primeval, densely green forest of the Coast Range provides a lush backdrop to the action. You can ride Alsea Falls from late spring to fall. The soil has a high level of clay content, which can be a problem in the spring, but conversely the trails hold up better than other compositions in the heat of summer, providing prime conditions when other trails are dust bowls.
The trail starts with a tease: asphalt and gravel. You’ve got to earn your dirt here. Go past a locked gate and start warming up with an attention-getting uphill stretch of road for the first mile and a half. The pitch levels out after that, and about 2 miles from the trailhead, turn right off the pavement and join Road 14-7-27 (a signpost also guides you to Whistlepunk Trail). The climbing gets a little tougher here, since it’s on gravel – but you’re making your way to your reward. Along the way you’ll pass by Gutrobber Trail on your left, and then you’ll arrive at the top of Whistlepunk.
Here comes the good stuff. Whistlepunk provides a great introduction to what you’re going to experience and enjoy, with a plethora of rocks and roots – your choice to roll or fly them. The well-designed berms provide a slingshot effect that multiplies your own energy and keeps you rolling fast. Cross a gravel road and quickly flow into Sexy Tree, where you can pick up even more speed (if you dare) through more rollers and some final giant berms.
Take a breath on a short stretch of logging road before you jump onto the upper section of Highballer, which showcases a tight, twisty flow that rewards smooth riding and quick acceleration. Be on the lookout for gnomes! Lower Highballer stretches it out with a series of jumps packed into the trail. There are no gaps to fly, but you’re painting your art on a narrow canvas of trail — so be mindful of your airtime and focus on your scrubs. Solid berms are placed to help you maintain mo’ all the way down.
The last trail section is on Springboard. This is one lightning-fast trail, so you might want to regroup and recalibrate your mind. The conditions are typically hard-pack, so you can bust out your micro-sprints and pump-track skills, or just hold on for the ride. You’re going to have lots of chances to pop some air and lay into the turns.
Springboard will drop you right back at the trailhead. And chances are, at this point you’re going to want more – so go ahead and point your bike back up the road and enjoy a second lap.
Note: The access road will be closed on weekdays from September through December 2017 to complete logging activity in the area. Make sure to visit Saturday and Sunday for full access.