A new lift-assisted trail system on Oregon’s favorite mountain
Mt. Hood is about as iconic as it gets in Oregon. Beyond dominating the horizon from all directions for many miles, it’s also a backyard playground option for the couple million people who live within an hour or two. And now it’s an even more multi-seasonal paradise with the addition of Timberline Bike Park, an ambitious and thoughtful MTB trail system that opened in 2019.
Bottom line: If taking a lift up and then screaming down the side of Oregon’s tallest mountain – ride, repeat – sounds like fun, this is a place you want to check out.
Phase 1, largely completed in time for the 2019 riding season, encompasses 8 miles of trails – from green to black, tame to testy. Anyone who can ride a bike can ride a trail here and have fun; there are options suitable for tykes on scoot-bikes, as well as high-speed thrill rides for the adrenaline junkies – and plenty in between. (There’s more mileage to come, as Phase 2 takes shape over several years.)
And it couldn’t be easier: You just start at the top, at the edge of the Wy’East Day Lodge parking lot, pick your route and drop in. All trails lead to the bottom of the Jeff Flood Express chairlift, which takes you back to the top – above the original start, which means you can keep the down/up cycle going as long as you like, then take a quick and easy shortcut back down to the lodge when you’ve finally had enough. Workers can give you tips on lift logistics and etiquette, if you haven’t done lift-assisted riding before.
Beyond the efficient trail/lift system, there are plenty of resources; you can rent bikes and equipment, take a private lesson to prep for the trails, or even sign up for a tour if you’re intermediate-level or higher.
But how’s the riding? Sublime. These are purpose-built trails, designed specifically for mountain bikes – so the camber is never off, the trail is always clearly defined and not crumbling at the edges, and the entire system was built (and re-routed, at some points) in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, to protect the species of flora and fauna in the surrounding ecosystem. There’s even a bike wash station at the start, so you can clean off any invasive soil, seeds and bugs you might have brought from your last ride.
A combination of natural and built features means you’ll traverse streams and small canyons on smooth wooden bridges, and grab air on a variety of ramps and whoop-de-dos that accentuate the existing terrain. You’ll float down in sweeping curves between towering trees, in what feels like primeval forest – deep, thick and green. You’ll break out into sunshine-rich alpine meadows. You’ll enjoy majestic views, both upward at the peak of the mountain and down to the carpet of trees dotted with lakes below. And you’ll be going downhill for almost all of it. What’s not to like about that?
You can get information on open dates, ticket rates, rentals and lessons, and a trail map at the bike park’s web page. Season passes are available, and include free days at partner bike parks including at Mt. Bachelor.
Besides the food, drink and lodging options at Timberline Lodge, a few spots to check out on your way to and from the bike park include Wraptitude (guess what their specialty is?), the Whistle Stop Bar & Grill, the Mt. Hood Brewing brewpub, and the venerable Huckleberry Inn or the High Mountain Café for breakfast or lunch. And if you want to round out your adventures with some additional fun activities, head over to Mt. Hood Skibowl, which offers 20 attractions in the summer.
Summer into fall, depending on seasonal weather.