: Dylan VanWeelden

Mountain Biking Hot Spots in the Willamette Valley

August 29, 2017
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The Willamette Valley is home to two areas recognized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association: the Black Rock trail system and Oakridge.

Black Rock is located outside Falls City, southwest of Salem. It’s maintained by a great partnership between the Black Rock Mountain Bike Association and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Designated as an IMBA Epic Ride, Black Rock consists of smooth terrain bolstered by extensive human-built wooden features, including skinnies, ladders and jumps. You’ll also find big gaps, berms and drops in this free-rider’s paradise.

Black Rock has four primary trails, a couple secondary trails and a skills-development area at the base of the mountain known as Basic Training, where riders can practice on the same types of features they’ll encounter throughout the area.

It’s recommended that visitors to Black Rock have previous mountain biking experience, as all the terrain is rated for intermediate to extreme skill levels. If you’ve ridden before but aren’t super comfortable with free-riding and human-built features, the Basic Training area can help you get acquainted — and if you get stuck on the mountain, all trails have ride-around routes to help you get down safely. (But before you ride down, you may want to camp out for a while. Black Rock has great spots in the woods where spectators can watch skilled riders hit the massive features.)

At Oakridge, southeast of Eugene, it seems like the trails never end — and maybe they don’t. Hundreds of miles of singletrack through the foothills of the central Cascade Mountains offer massive alpine rides for all skill levels, with close proximity to even more riding in the Willamette National Forest and lift-served downhill rides at Willamette Pass.

Oakridge has adopted the “town-as-a-trailhead” concept, with close-to-town loops and a large volume of trails ending and originating within the city. It also offers variety: dirt jumps and pump-track at Diamond Park give Oakridge additional riding options, and singletrack ranges from easy river trail rides to long, ripping descents.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association named Oakridge one of its 11 IMBA Ride Centers. This prestigious designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for “large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider.” The Oakridge community has put a noticeable effort into creating a friendly and helpful atmosphere for mountain bikers.

To learn more about how the community of Oakridge has been developing its mountain bike tourism, check out our short documentary video: Communities Powered by Travel: Oakridge, Oregon.

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