May 19, 2021 5 min read
Where are the best Oregon mountain biking trails? It’s a question that has more than one answer depending on what type of riding you’re looking to do. With climates ranging from arid desert to lush rainforest, Oregon’s mountain biking terrain has something for every type of riding style.
As a series of posts dedicated to exploring Oregon’s MTB trails, this post focuses attention on three MTB trails within close proximity to Portland that offer a relatively vast system of trails. By no means an exhaustive list, these are some go-to Showers Pass staff favorites that always deliver on the fun factor.
Oakridge, Oregon is a small town located about an hour southeast of Eugene. Surrounded by forests on all sides, it boasts some of the best mountain biking trails in the lower 48. In fact, each year these trails play host to one of the best mountain bike festivals anywhere in the world. Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO) is a unique experience wherein attendants converge at Oakridge for a "fun weekend of riding, river swimming and camping under the stars." With shuttle services provided for the following trails, food & drink vendors, as well as an amazing selection of demo bikes, MBO is the summer event that you never want to miss! This years festival runs from July 15th - 18th. Get your tickets now.
Alpine Trail – Often called the “crown jewel” of the Oakridge area, Alpine trail provides 20 miles of out-of-this-world, intermediate single track. Weaving through evergreen forest canopies, the Alpine trail can be accessed by shuttle or you can earn those turns by making the climb by bike. With stunning views, this loop offers some of the best groomed singletrack that all skill levels can enjoy.
Hardesty Mountain Trail – A shuttle is recommended to access the descents at Hardesty mountain trail. At 6-miles, this intermediate, one way trail system is a real brake-burner. Descents are fast and flowy, but some serious switchbacks require technical maneuvering. With shade provided by the forest canopy, Hardesty mountain is a great spring/summer ride that has no shortage of hero dirt.
Lawler Trail – Not for the faint of heart, Lawler trail is a classic Oakridge decent that will have you alternating between tight turns and straight-line steep sections. This 7.8-mile, out-and-back trail system features some varying terrain. One moment you’ll be riding smooth hero dirt and the next it’ll be loose and chunky, so be sure you’re ready for the switch. With a ton of views, your efforts are rewarded once you tackle the climbs, but the real fun comes at the lower part of the trail wherein you’ll be greeted with relentless turns down steep, exposed slopes.
Attracting mountain bikers from all over the world, Oakridge has more trail systems to offer than the ones mentioned here, but these should offer some ideas of what you can expect.
Much like the forest covered terrain of Oakridge, Phil’s trails just outside of Bend offers 820-miles of variable terrain. From flat, easy greens, to hair-razing blacks and everything in between, these mountain biking trails support every type of riding style. For the most part, these trails interconnect, so its easy to never riding the same trail twice.
One of the staff favorites is the large loop from Shevlin Park to Phil’s Trailhead via Flagline. This 44.8-mile loop, labeled intermediate/difficult covers just about everything that Bend singletrack has to offer. With lots of climbing, around 4K all together, riders can expect breathtaking views and long downhill descents that will induce those everlasting ear-to-ear grins. Be advised. There are some technical sections throughout that require balance and riding precision, as well as some jumps and flowy sections that should only be attempted if one feels comfortable with a full send.
With so many trails from which to choose once you park, it’s easy to set off without a plan. You might find yourself in full autopilot, focused completely on what’s directly in front of you, or you might take a wrong turn, or forget to turn all together. At Phil’s trails, there is no shortage of ways to get lost, which is a great way to explore, but a little unnerving when you find yourself with dwindling light and miles left to do in order to find the comforts of the car.
Keep in mind that you most likely started riding east-to-west if you parked off century drive, directly Southwest of Bend. Unless you’ve made a point to ride the longer, perimeter trail systems, it’s pretty safe to say that you will eventually converge with a route that cuts back to the parking lot via Swampy to Phil’s.
This 18.2-mile mountain bike trail undulates up and down for the first several miles, so be prepared to actively pedal. Once you’ve surmounted Swedes Ridge, the trail starts to open up to a steeper downhill section which features gorgeous views peeking out through the trees from the North. Soon after, Section 16 will have you headed full force down a curvy, rooted section towards one of the best systems at Phil’s: Upper and Lower Whoops. Considered the local favorite, Lower Whoops is replete with “sendy” features which can be avoided if you’re trying to play it safe. Make note, this section is one-way only due to the steep terrain and technical features.
Again, there are many more mountain bike trails to explore at Phil’s, so take some time to do a little research and prepare yourself for a wild ride.
Post Canyon is a compact mountain bike trail system that sits within the forest around Hood River, Oregon. Segment 10 of the beloved Oregon Timber Trail runs through Post Canyon, which can be used to access more trail systems around the Mount Hood area if you’re feeling up for an ambitious 30 mile out-and-back. However, one doesn’t need to go far to realize how special these mountain bike trails are.
Just from the East parking area, access to the ever dependable 9.6-mile Post Canyon Hot Lap will offer a mix of twisty climbs, flowy singletrack, and fun descents featuring tabletops and banking berms. Along the way, several adjacent trails will provide some variations to either shorten or lengthen the ride, which is the case for most of Post Canyon given its relative size. It should be noted that this area features plenty of heart pounding climbs; however, what comes up, must come down, so riding here should be attempted when energy reserves are full and the stoke is high.
One of our favorite systems to connect is Mobius Strip to Spaghetti Factory. Starting from the East parking area, Mobius Strip is a fun, technical climb that will get you warmed up for what comes next: a fast descent. Not soon after the sweat has been blown off your face and your tear ducts begin to dry up, Spaghetti Factory comes into view. As the name suggests, this trail offers a wide variety of twists and turns which serpentine down a gradual slope which terminates at the center of Post Canyon proper. From here, almost all trail systems can be accessed, so it’s a great place to take a break, have a bite to eat, and figure out where to go next.
As it’s relatively close to Portland, Post Canyon is a great mountain bike trail system that’s easy to access if you’re coming into Oregon from someplace else. What’s more, there are a few great bike shops within Hood River that provide rental services, along with great beta for those uninitiated riders.
Oregon is often forgotten, and even more often mispronounced, but this state is a veritable gold star when it comes to mountain biking trails. Each system offering riders considerable terrain to explore and hours of enjoyment in some of the most beautiful environments that can only be found in this part of the world.
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