Mountain Biking in Oakridge, Oregon

Continuing the tradition (2009: Santa Fe, NM, 2010: Portland, OR, 2011: Colorado, 2012: Sun Valley, ID, 2013: Park City, Utah), this year I went on an epic mountain biking trip with some friends. We flew into Portland, crashed at Paul’s place for the night, and drive to Oakridge early the next morning.

Made it to Portland with Marc and Paul

We rented some nice bikes from Willamette Mountain Mercantile (I got a Ibis Mojo HDR 650b) and headed out for the trails. Charlie, Diane, Marc, and I were all on rentals, and Paul was on his shiny new Pivot from home.

08/06/2014 Day 1: Larison Rock, Flat Creek / Dead Mountain. 27.2 Miles, 6515 feet up and down.


Oakridge, OR Day 1: Larison Rock, Flat Creek / Dead Mountain from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

First up were two ‘little’ rides near town. A loop up the road for the fast downhill Larison Rock trail, followed by an out-and-back up ‘Flat Creek’ which is neither flat nor next to a creek (Flat Creek in Blue Ridge, GA at least has a creek). Marc had a nasty wreck towards the end of the day, and we’re happy he seems to have no permanent damage.

Whelp Oregon sucks

For Dinner we stopped at Brewer’s Union Local 180 which has a good selection of house beers which were all naturally carbonated. Cheeseburgers? Check.

08/07/2014 Day 2: Goodman, Sawtooth, Hardesty. 18.4 Miles, 5332 feet up and down.


Oakridge, OR Day 2: Goodman, Sawtooth, Hardesty from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

Thanks to his wreck, Marc skipped out on day two. With our weird mix of thru-axels and fork-ups and a rental car, the 2 cars were just enough to hold 4 people and 4 bikes so we took this opportunity to drive to the Hardesty trailhead for a long nice climb up Goodman, a hike-a-bike-filled traverse along Sawtooth, and an all-smiles high-speed descent down Hardesty.

Next up on the top-rated restaurants on Oakridge, we had some great Chinese food at Lee’s Chinese Cuisine

08/08/2014 Day 3: Alpine. 26 Miles, 3288 feet up, 6603 feet down.


Oakridge, OR Day 3: Alpline from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

As a mid-trip break, we piled into a shuttle (with Marc again!) to the top of Alpine. This saved us a few hours of grindy climbing from 1000ft to 5000ft, and let us spend most of the day flying downhill. We first looped on ‘Chrome Toilet’ which I suspect, contrary to local opinions otherwise, doesn’t actually conceal a chrome toilet in the woods. A short climb afterwards, and we were back to the top of Alpine for 12-mile 5200ft descent. We also ran into a guy with a flat tire, no repair kit, and no idea how to fix a flat. Paul gave him a lesson in tire changing and we finished flying downhill to the end of the trail.

Just chillin in the woods with some trees on the Alpine trail

Recovery dog

Dinner was early, with a pile of delicious and artery clogging food at Stewart’s 58 Drive-in, followed by a trip to Waldo Lake to soak in some views, followed by a pile of cookies, cheeses, and beers to hold us over to breakfast.

Waldo Lake

Doing dinner right.

08/09/2014 Day 4: Lower Bunchgrass, Heckletooth. 30.6 Miles, 5663 feet up and down.


Oakridge, OR Day 4: Lower Bunchgrass, Heckletooth from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

The bike shop informed up that most of Bunchgrass (One of the ‘signature rides’ in Oakridge) was interrupted by lots of downed trees, and showed us a loop we could do instead that takes a cut in from a forest service road that did not appear on our maps. We climbed all morning, passed what ended up being the cut-in for a few hundred more feet of climbing, stopped to eat sandwiches, and began our descent. This descent included the most technical bits of the trip, and I did my share of walking down exposed rooty/rocky tight switchbacks.

We all agreed that Mexican food was next on the list, and Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant helped us out with the biggest plates of food most of us had ever seen.

08/10/2014 Day 5: Larison Creek. 25.4 Miles, 4272 feet up and down.


Oakridge, OR Day 5: Larison Creek from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

Last up was our first and only ‘river trail’, of which Oregon is famous for having. This one took a long climb to get to, and down to just Marc, Paul and I, we decided the climb was pretty boring and were happy when it ended. The 6ish mile descent down Larison Creek was anything but boring, and I look forward to riding more trails like Larison Creek in the future. It was the closest to things we have in North Georgia of everything we rode, while also being uniquely Oregon. And a bee stung me on my lip which was my least favorite thing in a long long time.

Carina’s Cantina Food Truck happened to be at the bike shop at the end of our ride and after turning in bikes we enjoyed some tacos and a quick dip in the river.

Sweaty and gross, we drove back to Paul’s place in Portland to clean up. Due to some wrecks and traffic it took seemingly forever to get back, but we finally made it and met back up with Charlie and Dianne for dinner and drinks at East Burn. For breakfast the next morning Marc and I wandered over to New Deal before hopping on the train to the airport to get back home.

While in Oakridge, we stayed at the Best Western Oakridge Inn. It wasn’t the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and the included ‘hot breakfast’ wasn’t always ‘hot’, and the included ‘internet’ didn’t always work, but it was easy to book, super convenient, and didn’t mind mountain bikes in the rooms.

~130 Miles, ~25,000 feet of climbing, and almost 30,000 feet of descending.

Want to come next year? Add your contact info to The Pile and we’ll get started sometime later this year on planning for 2015.

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