Custom-built for your pleasure
a good, hard ride. These rides will involve a
combination of length and climbing that
casual cyclists would not find enjoyable.
Custom-built for your pleasure
There’s something to be said for a trail that is sort of organically created – maybe it’s an old game trail, or an ancient hiking path, and now you can ride it. It rolls how it rolls, and it flows how it flows, and sometimes it all comes together to be epic.
But Sandy Ridge is at the other end of the spectrum – where you take a great piece of land and plan, design, build and maintain a custom bike playground – an off-road paradise with something for everyone. If you love riding trail, you’ve got to get here; this is the mountain-bike embodiment of “If you build it, they will come.”
The short description: Sandy Ridge is a purpose-built system of trails all emanating from one trailhead, with varying levels of difficulty. The longer description is going to take a while.
Let’s start with the scene at the trailhead parking lot. As you pull up and start unloading, a series of riders will emerge from the forest – adrenalized, wearing dirt-spattered grins, and making loud noises of pure joy. It’s like talking to someone who just went wild at the donut shop: “Dude, you’ve gotta try the crullers! And the maple bars! And the…”
The Sandy Ridge system offers enough combinations and permutations to keep your imagination fired up all day. It’s all a matter of what you’re looking for: how much time do you have, how much do you love vertical, what kind of skills do you want to improve or show off? Then pick your poison – you’ve got a massive collection of banked berms, challenging natural rock features, big-air jumps and rippin’ straightaways to string together.
We’ve put together a suggested route that includes all the highlights this system has to offer, and it’s usually in decent riding shape no matter what season you’re here. A note: The trails at Sandy Ridge are directional, so you don’t have to worry about riders coming up what you’re going down. So don’t hold back – give it all you’ve got. It should be comforting to know that some of the finest trail-builders in the business have worked over the last ten years or so to conceive, create and tune the trails you’re enjoying.
And, also: This route is for experienced riders. If you’re bringing a newbie or your kid, there’s a sweet little practice loop that starts at the east side of the parking lot and comes out on the west side; it’s appropriate for basically anyone who can stay upright on a bike.
For our route, start (naturally) from the parking lot; first thing you do is climb a paved road that’s closed off to motorized traffic. Youǯll often be sharing the road with other riders headed up to various jumping-off points; strike up a conversation and you might find a riding bud or learn some crucial trail intel.
When you reach the upper trailhead, jump onto the single-track and keep climbing, until you get to the top of Communication Brakedown. The Sandy Ridge system is tightly packed, but the intersections have signs to point you in the right direction.
You’re climbing about 1,200 feet here, and the last few switchbacks will put your legs to the test. Think of it as taking the chair lift to the top – the hard way. You’ve earned a couple minutes to savor the view up here before you point your front wheel downward.
Once you drop into Communication Brakedown, it plunges right away into a rocky landscape that twists down through a serpentine of tight turns. The serpentine squeezes you out into a rock garden on Quid Pro Flow, so make sure to keep some speed so you maintain momentum. Negotiate a few small drops, then brace yourself for a set of wide-open jumps and side hits – revel in your first hit of airtime.
If you hear strange sounds drifting through the forest, don’t worry –it’s just the whoops and hollers of your fellow two-wheeled travelers. Once you come down from the last bit of hang time, the trail transitions to a gradual climb and comes together with Three Thirty-Eight, which gives you another stunning view of Mt. Hood on the horizon.
After you take a pause to appreciate the scenery, drop left into Two Turntables and a Microwave, and brace yourself. This trail starts you with some decent-size tables, and then it suddenly lets you loose for a hillside traverse like you’ve been shot out of a cannon. Test the upper end of your speed limit, and then ease on back to highway speed and as you make your way to the scenic bridge that overlooks Little Joe Creek.
Your final descent comes on Lower Hide and Seek. This is a more mellow stretch of landscape that lets you think less about self-preservation and more about self-expression. Let ‘er rip. Try to tune in to the small booters and accelerator berms; they’ll help you reach the ultimate flow.
By the time you become one of the energized, grinning fools back in the parking lot, you’ll be wrung out but probably ready to ride that lift up again for a new combination back down. Aren’t you glad someone built this for you?