With the rains at the end of this past week and sprinkles over the weekend, nearly all of the local mountain bike trail networks are in prime shape for spring riding. Adding to the great (read: just tacky enough) trail conditions is the fact that wildflowers are beginning to appear along some routes.
So without further ado, here's a handy guide to decent spring riding, and in some cases, updates on possible changes to certain trail systems.
The Maston has been riding firm and fast and much later into the spring because of so much rider traffic over the past two years. Note that some of that firm trail will go away in the future as it's being replaced by a new alignment. Given the Maston's sandy soils, some time will pass before we have a decent tread again in that section.
In question are the trails at the southeastern end of the system. They pass through a wildlife habitat area the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants skirted. In the future, if you ride counterclockwise from the proposed new trailhead (a quarter mile east of the current one), you'll follow the old canal all the way to the Deschutes River canyon rim before turning north and linking into the existing trail.
Meanwhile, note that a short easy get-around trail has been created for those who don't want to ride or walk the steep rocky hill on the northwest part of the outer loop trail. The get-around breaks to the left as you approach the top of the hill and is marked by a small cairn.
Also, there have been unconfirmed reports of recent ATV damage to some of the trails.
Just like the Maston, the tread at Horse Ridge has gotten much firmer over the past two years because of so much rider use. Most of the muddy sections on Phil's East and other trails higher on the ridge are gone.
The River Trail
Even though it's not yet the tourist season, don't ride the River Trail (Meadow Camp to Big Eddy to Dillon Falls, etc.) on weekend days. The trail is packed with runners, hikers and stroller pushers all of whom are taking advantage of the trail before the real hordes descend in June.
There are several short muddy sections along the trail at Big Eddy, Aspen Camp and going up the long hill from the river to the Dillon Falls parking area.
For consistent year-round riding, Peterson Ridge has become the go-to spot for many riders. Currently, the trails are in excellent shape with small patches of muddy terrain that are easily passed through.
Here's another trail to ride in the spring before it gets heavy equestrian use come summer. While most people ride the trail clockwise, try riding it counterclockwise to better enjoy the series of swooping s-curves in the downhill section on the north end of the loop.
To do the trail counterclockwise, park at the traditional parking spot off Horse Butte road and ride south up the road about a quarter mile where the loop trail heads off to the left.
Note: Avoid Horse Butte when it's at all breezy as winds howl across most of the area, which was denuded of pine tree protection by the Skeleton wildfire several years ago.
Now is definitely the time to ride Gray Butte. The snow is gone and with it Gray Butte's famously oh-so-sticky mud.
Note that there's been quite a bit of equestrian traffic at Gray Butte this winter and most of the trails are heavy with horseshoe imprints. This means bumpy going if you're on a more traditional hard-tail bike.
Judging from this past weekend and the crowds at the Phil's parking lot, there's a lot of pent-up demand for close-to-town riding. The soggy trails of a few weeks ago are now firm. If, however, you run into long muddy sections, please walk around them or turn back. Give the trails time to dry out and remain rut-free.
Note that change is coming to the Phil's Trailhead in the form of a paved parking lot with room for 90 cars and two overnight RV spots plus improved toilet facilities.
The Mrazek trail rides nicely for about three-plus miles before mud and snow become a problem and riders should turn back.
Shevlin Park and Environs
A week ago, any loop you made above or in the park had some muddy sections. Most are dry now and those in search of a good hour-long ride will find it here except on weekends when hiker, walker and runner traffic is heavy.