As the days cool down and the morning air brings a kiss of dew, we bid farewell to summer. We’ll miss you. But, oh, autumn! We welcome you with open arms and helmets and knobby tires. Because fall in Oregon was made for mountain biking. The twisting, tacky single track that winds across the high desert and Cascade Mountain foothills near Bend, along the scenic McKenzie River Trail and through the old growth forests of Oakridge is some of the best mountain biking trail you’ll ride. Ever. Pump up your tires, tune your shocks and get ready to ride!
Phil’s Trails, Bend
Just 5 miles outside of Bend, Phil’s Trails offers an 8.8-mile smooth, rolling loop. Non-technical and fairly flat, Phil’s will have you zipping along like a biking hero. It’s located within a network of other trails, including Phil’s Whoops (with an added 11 miles and a few tough climbs), and the Storm King ride for hardcore dirt lovers. Phil’s proper also offers a nice out-and-back for families with young kids.
Edison Lava Trail
For a more technical ride, check out the Edison-Lava Trail, an out-and-back that offers as many as 20 miles between Edison Sno Park and Lava Lake (you can turn around at any point). If you start at the Lava Lake trailhead, Edison includes ripping descents on the way back with some great shelfy rocks and fun drops. Also leaving from Lava Lake, there’s 11.5 miles of trail between Lava and Sparks lakes, which can be ridden for 23 miles total.
McKenzie River Trail
On the west side of the Cascade Mountains, the McKenzie River Trail is a scenic, challenging, 26-mile one-way trail that made Outside magazine’s list of 10 Great American Mountain Biking Trails. The trail, which most folks ride as a shuttle from the north end, passes Clear Lake, Sahalie Falls, the Blue Pool and other jaw-dropping viewpoints. For families with young kids or beginning bikers, ride from the south end of the trail and turn around at the Paradise Campground for a short, scenic, 5.4-mile taste of the trail.
In the forests of Oakridge, just 40 miles west of Eugene, you’ll find what many avid mountain bikers swear are the best trails in the country. Them’s fightin words, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. The Alpine Trail, a 16-mile epic (or 36-mile figure-eight option), has challenging climbs and sweet, winding descents through towering old growth forests. Oakridge is also home to gems like the gentle Salmon Creek Trail (12 miles) Larrison Creek (6.3 moderate miles) and many others.
For details about these epic fall mountain bike rides and others around the state, visit RideOregonRide.