: Dylan VanWeelden

Top Destinations For Your Next Mountain Bike Adventure

Countless miles of scenic trails surround these cool spots for off-road getaways.
August 27, 2019

To shred or not to shred? Yeah, that’s not really a question in Oregon. Of course you shred. Whether you’re a mellow mountain biker who’s into smooth, swoopy trails or an expert who likes to huck the gnar (that’s mountain-bike speak for going off jumps), every corner of the state has a little bit to offer. And in recent years, spirited mountain bike trail advocates around the state have built epic routes that make the scene even better. What are the top mountain biking spots in Oregon? Well, picking favorites is hard. But we can say you’ll never run out of trails to ride at these five MTB hubs, where you’ll find active cycling communities happy to point you in the right direction.

Phil's Trail courtesy of Cog Wild
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Bend

Central Oregon
Go for: Flow trails, high desert, post-ride IPAs 

Sure, Bend has 277 miles of mountain bike trails accessible from town — that’s why we come. But the town itself is a cultural haven for cyclists, where bike parks and pump track abound and taprooms that double as bike shops thrive — and that’s why we stay.  Indulge in a shuttle from Cog Wild that will drop you at Swampy Lakes trailhead, where you descend over 3,400 feet of swoopy singletrack to Phil’s Trail. Along the way, hit the tabletops and berms of Lower Whoops. For a classic cross-country trail, look to Mrazek, where 14 miles of buff trail flow through pines, with some technical sections, ramps and logs thrown in. 

Pine Mountain Sports offers mountain bike rentals and is known for its welcoming vibes. Bringing your own bike? Stay at Loge Bend, which has wall racks in the rooms and an evo mountain bike demo center and skills course on-site. Check out BendTrails.org for more ride info.

Oakridge's Alpine Trail by Dylan VanWeelden

Oakridge

Willamette Valley
Go for: Raucous descents, old-growth forest, creekside dips

The little recreation-obsessed town of Oakridge is a gateway to hundreds of miles of mountain biking. Its legendary cross-country trails and famous descents wind through the lush heart of the Willamette National Forest

Known as the “Crown Jewel” of Oakridge, the Alpine trail is the most iconic. Created for both speed and revelry, the 15-mile trail descends 4,500 feet (yet still ascends 1,900) past incredible Cascade mountain vistas. Some riders bust their chops to get to the top via fire roads; others take the daily shuttle. On the mellower side, the 7-mile Salmon Creek trail starts just a mile from downtown and has under 500 feet of climbing, though sections of root and rock will keep you on your toes. 

Bust a spoke? Oakridge Bike Shop and Willamette Mountain Mercantile is right in town. Extrovert? Experience Oakridge Mountain Bike Oregon-style (read: all-inclusive three-day mountain bike festival with shuttles, food and beer galore).

Sandy Ridge by Leslie Kehmeier / IMBA

Mt. Hood

Go for: Volcano views, rollers, jump lines

The brainchild of mountain bike fanatics, Sandy Ridge Trail System holds its own next to other top mountain biking destinations. Each berm and roller has been painstakingly designed to maximize the rider’s fun and exhilaration. The 9-mile Sandy Ridge trail is a classic, and with directional trails (one way), riders can hit it hard and feel secluded, even on weekends. For last-minute snacks and libations, the Brightwood country store is only 1.2 miles away. The nearest bike shop, Mt. Hood Bicycle, is 5 miles away and has bike rentals. 

On the other side of Mt. Hood, Surveyors Ridge is a classic 24-mile cross-country trail with scenery that will make you stop more than you’d imagine. Don’t let the insane views of Mt. Hood distract you from the punchy ascents and descents along the ridge. Hit local fave Solera Brewery in Parkdale for post-ride sandwiches and brews.

Mountain of the Rogue trail by Justin Olsen

Ashland and the Rogue Valley

Southern Oregon
Go for: Summit views, downhill thrills, easy access

Southern Oregon is home to pristine mountain ranges and off-the-grid landscapes that make it a mountain biker’s dream — thanks to the dedication of local trail builders. In the Rogue River Valley, right off of I-5, you’ll find Mountain of the Rogue loop, a relatively new trail that was designed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the Bureau of Land Management. This 10-mile trail has a little bit of everything — from narrow, exposed singletrack and technical sections to deep-forest rollers. Right near the trailhead, you’ll find Valley of the Rogue State Park, a lovely spot to take a dip or camp. Twenty miles south of the trailhead is Marty’s Cycle Center in Medford. 

A treasure trove of trails is also accessible right out of the city of Ashland. The scenic Lower Ashland Watershed Loop is a nontechnical 28-mile route on deserted doubletrack. And there’s a lot for downhill lovers, too, like Jabberwocky — a directional trail redesigned to maximize the downhill experience. Shuttle to it and other trails from town with Ashland Mountain Adventures.

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort courtesy of Travel Baker County

Baker City

Eastern Oregon
Go for: High alpine, bike lifts, sunshine

Don’t forget about Eastern Oregon, where you’ll find a number of mountain biking gems … and way less rain. Situated at 7,100 feet, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort isn’t just for skiing anymore. They’ve built 8 miles of loops on the loamy high-alpine terrain. Two of those miles are the Broadway Flow Trail, a flowing downhill trail with banked turns and granite-peak vistas. The Rock Garden Chair will take you to the top of the trail on select days. Lower down, just outside of La Grande in the Blue Mountains, is Mt. Emily Recreation Area, which has 45 miles of trails, including the 10-mile Sasquatch/Ricochet Loop with views of the Elkhorn and Eagle Cap ranges. 

Located in a former elementary school built in 1925, the Churchill Bike/Ski Hostel in Baker City provides budget digs, where you can link up with other adventure-inclined travelers. Also in town is The Trailhead bike shop.


Pro Riding Tips

Brush up on a few basics of MTB travel and trail etiquette before your next adventure. 

  • Know before you go. Check in with local ranger stations and local bike shops about closures and other relevant trail conditions like wildfire status and snow levels. 
  • Share your status. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Practice Leave No Trace. It’s an important way to show love and respect to the places we play. 
  • Pack goodies. Little things you might wish you had if you forget them: insect repellent, sunscreen, a bandana, extra snacks, extra water and a multitool.
  • Don’t harsh the flow. Abide by directional trails (don’t go up what you’re supposed to go down and vice versa). And trail etiquette dictates that the climbing rider has the right of way on two-way trails.

About The
Author

Ellee Thalheimer
Ellee Thalheimer is a Portland-based author and freelance writer. Her books include Lonely Planet's Cycling Italy, Hop in the Saddle and the Cycling Sojourner series – multi-day bike travel guidebooks for Oregon and Washington. She has contributed to a number of Lonely Planet guidebooks and various other publications, including Alaska Airlines Magazine, OnTrak Magazine, the BBC and Adventure Cyclist Magazine.

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