Oregon is home to some of the best mountain-biking destinations in the world, and the Umpqua National Forest is no exception. Southern Oregon’s 79-mile North Umpqua Trail (The NUT), with its old-growth forest and technical singletrack, is a long-time favorite of Oregonians and visiting mountain bikers — so much so that it’s included on the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s exclusive list of IMBA Epic Rides.
Summer and early fall bring drier, sunnier weather perfect for trail riding. And with its insane river views, mountain vistas and a healthy mix of smooth rollers and technical descents, the NUT is a totally worthy destination. This is what mountain biking was meant to be in its purest form: a place where you can feel one with the terrain and surroundings, surrounded by reminders of Mother Nature’s extreme splendor and enjoying a challenge that’s intensely physical and mental at the same time.
The 79-mile-long trail is made up of 11 segments; the longest, the Tioga segment, is 15.7 miles long, and the 3.5-mile Hot Springs segment is the shortest. Trailheads and campgrounds in several locations along the NUT lend themselves well to day trips as well as longer journeys. You can ride the full distance with a support vehicle or packed gear, or base out-and-back combinations from a single trailhead to your heart’s content.
A few Oregon companies, including Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours, lead mountain bike tours along the NUT with varying levels of support. If you decide to make all your own arrangements, be sure to visit the North Umpqua Trail BLM site for trail and camping maps and lots of segment-specific information.
A few insider tips
We want everyone to have a great experience at the NUT, so we snagged Melanie Fisher, co-owner of Cog Wild and a NUT veteran, for some insider tips. Here’s what she said:
- Watch out for poison oak, which can be found along the entire trail. Exceptions usually include the Dread and Terror and Hot Springs segments — but keep your eyes out just in case.
- Although most of the trail isn’t expert level, it also isn’t for total beginners. Be aware that there are several sections with steep descents, as well as narrow single-track with serious exposure.
- If you’re camping, avoid holidays and busy weekends if you can. Campgrounds can be very popular during the summer months, although the trail is normally empty.
- Turn to the locals for shuttle help. There is no set local shuttle service along the NUT, but Lemolo Lake Resort and the store at Dry Creek might be able to help you out.
- Be on the lookout for ticks if you go through the bushes.
- Don’t expect cell reception along the trail; the North Umpqua area is a great place to disconnect and enjoy nature!
- Bring all your supplies with you and get gas before entering Highway 138, as there are few options in the area.