Oakridge, Oregon: If you haven’t heard, you need to.
You could do it in a weekend, but you might need a week to really get a feel for riding Oakridge. Oakridge calls itself a mountain biking Mecca and the title suits it. But somehow this Cascade biking gem is still unknown, or least unfamiliar to many Bend riders. Two hours from Bend and located on Hwy 58, the small logging town offers around 500 miles of trail in the surrounding Willamette National Forest. Downhill is the riding theme for the area, and nowhere is that more evident than in their signature Alpine Trail. The 15 miles of singletrack will drop you over 3,000 feet as you ride past mountain vistas, through alpine meadows and into old growth forests.
Like most trails in Oakridge, Alpine is accessible by Forest Service roads. It’s a murderous climb on a bike, shuttling with a car is highly recommended. Oakridge based, Oregon Adventures offers the only local shuttle service.
If You Go:
Camping and lodging opportunities abound in Oakridge. Right as you get to town, be sure to stop at Willamette Mountain Mercantile bike shop for a map and other ride suggestions. The shop is located right off Highway 58, across from Ray’s. Then after a long day of riding, stop in and grab a pint at the Brewers Union pub on Oakridge’s old main street. They offer their own cask conditioned brews on tap and an English style pub atmosphere with a Cascade twist. Go for a pilgrimage, you’ll thank me later.
Black Rock Mountain, a biker’s amusement park
Going big isn’t a problem, and neither are hikers at Black Rock. Located west of Salem, 500 acres of coastal range forest and singletrack is for bikers only and it shows. There’s no shortage of jumps, banked turns and log bridges. And hey, if you feel like hitting a jump that shoots you over a forest service road high enough to clear a U-Haul, they’ve got that too. There’s also plenty of terrain for those with less big air aspirations. It’s worth the three and a half hour drive.
Get a lift at Ski Bowl and Willamette Pass
Don’t feel like riding uphill? Catch a ride on one of Oregon’s two lift-served mountain biking destinations, Skibowl at Mount Hood or Willamette Pass off of Oregon Highway 58. (If you’re wondering, yes, Mt Bachelor has plans in the works for a similar set up on our local hill—possibly as early as next summer) Both Mt Hood and Willamette offer a variety of terrain but are definitely geared more toward the intermediate to expert level dual-suspension crowd. Both are currently open only on weekends, Skibowl will be open seven days a week starting in early July.
Portland bound? Stop at Sandy Ridge.
“It’s definitely the best riding close to Portland,” says Luke Mason, Bend bike racer and Cog Wild Guide. The relatively new and growing singletrack trail network just off of the Mount Hood Highway, near Sandy, is worth a stop according to Mason.
Go big in the back yard at The Lair.
Tucked away from the Phil’s trailhead area, it’s easy to overlook The Lair. The free-ride park is a training ground, proving ground and playground for mountain bikers of all skill levels. Even if you’re not the big air type, it’s worth checking it out just to watch the guys that are. “The slalom track jumps are some of the best around,” says Mason. It’s a place to watch experts go big, or test yourself on some of the beginner and intermediate obstacles. It’s located off Skyline Ranch Road close to Century Drive. Get out and see for yourself.
5 Bend Must Rides not named Phil’s
the name says it all.
A killer downhill ride
through the forest
Rollers and banked turns abound
Rocky and technical
Free-ride terrain park