Getting Weird in Oakridge
Oregon, specifically Oakridge, has been on our MTB destination bucket list for a couple of years now. Armed with a new adventure camper, and ten days with nowhere to be, the time seemed right to finally check it out. Now a sleepy remnant of a once thriving logging industry, Oakridge has been slowly experiencing a comeback thanks largely to MTB and outdoor tourism. The town is it’s own brand of Oregon weird, and the type of place you see everyone at least twice.
Day 1 – Park City, Utah to Fields, Oregon
Our first night was spent, unexpectedly, camped out in the Fields Station parking lot, which is apparently par for the course when you’re 80 miles from the next gas station and close for business at 6pm. No self-service gas, but there is beer on draft inside – that’s Oregon for you.
Day 2 – Fields to Oakridge, Oregon
Affectionately referred to as ‘Randyland’ the Oregon Adventures campground is conveniently located and offers secluded, riverfront camp sites to OA shuttle and tour clients.
Day 3 – Flat Creek Trail, Oakridge
Oakridge’s Flat Creek trail is anything but flat featuring a fast & flowy 2,000 ft, 5 mile descent through giant old-growth Douglas Fir trees. We actually had so much fun on this trail we rode it twice!
Above:The Oakridge Brewer’s Union is a must stop in part because it’s the only place in town, but most of all because it features incredible beer and food in true English public house fashion.
Above: Oakridge’s best and only bike shop. Pro-tip: bring the tech’s some beer and post-up on the shop’s back patio.
Day 4 – Alpine Trail, Oakridge
Next up was the Alpine Trail, which is a must-ride if you’re in the area. With a shuttle the ride clocks in at 15 miles with 2,000′ of ascending, 4,500′ of descending and features classic Oregon style loam with big trees and bigger views along the way.
Day 5 – Oakridge to McKenzie River
After leaving Oakridge, the next leg of our trip took us through Willamette National Forest on some breathtaking forest service roads en route to McKenzie River.
Above: Oregon’s Three Sisters
Below: Rest Day at Cougar Hot Springs
Day 6 – McKenzie River Trail
McKenzie River Trail is billed as America’s Best Trail. While that’s quite a reputation to live up to (we personally preferred the Alpine Trail), it is definitely one of the most scenic trails we’ve ever ridden. At nearly 25 miles long when ridden as a point-to-point with a shuttle, there is no shortage of places to pull over and take advantage of crystal clear swimming holes.
Above: Clear Lake
Above: Swimmers brave the frigid 40 degree water temperature at the famous Blue Pool.
Day 7 – King Castle Trail
By day seven it’s fair to say that we’re pretty worked after a week of riding and travel. We squeeze one last ride in on King Castle trail which is still in the McKenzie River area, before packing it in and setting off on our return to Park City by way of Bend and Boise.
Total Mileage: 1,750 miles
Ride Days: 5 | Travel Days: 4
Route from Park City: Fields, OR – Oakridge, OR – McKenzie River, OR – Bend, OR – Boise, ID
Food/Drink: Brewers Union
Local Bike Shop: Willamette Mountain Mercantile
Shuttle / Guide Company: Oregon Adventures (Oakridge) Horse Creek Shuttle (McKenzie River)
Southeastern Oregon is a remote outback. There are large 80 to 100 mile stints between gas stations, and in Oregon, there is no self-service gas. Which means if you’re rolling through BFE after hours on empty, you might be stuck there for the night. Plan ahead, and don’t push your luck with the gas gauge – it’s better to be stuck in the parking lot for night, than to be stranded alongside the road for however long.
Awesome write up! I moved to Oakridge nearly 11 years ago to work at the bike shop and ride my bike. It’s great to see you perspective on our little town, and I think your article was right on point. You hit a few of my favorite trails, but left so many still to explore. I hope you can come back and session some more!
Eugene, I think we chatted at the shop when we were there this past July. Not sure if you remember me, but I’m a friend of Brad Tollefson’s of Poison Spider.
Guess we’re going to have to come back to ride all that good stuff we missed 😉
Amazing writeup and good representation of the amazing things that Oakridge has to offer. I need to come back and ride some of the new trails.
Love this, I live in Bend so it is an easy shuttle, but man this makes me want to go!