Quoc Phan, owner of Tam Bikes, slicing his Santa Cruz Bronson through a sliver of perfection on Alpine Trail above Oakridge, Oregon.
This is the dry time of year. It seems that regardless of where you live, so long as it’s in the northern hemisphere, you’re either riding marbles, shoveling dust with your front tire, or scampering across sizzling rocks. The lovely heat of deep summer has left our formerly perfect trails desiccated and in a shriveled state of revolt.
Unless you’re in Oakridge, Oregon.
If you’re in Oakridge then your trails are perfect. All Summer Long.
A lush, green, canopy envelops the trails, nurturing what must be perpetual clay. Tires gain a life of their own, singing with audible delight as one can actually hear side knobs bite in a whirring, toothy zeal of delight. The area is dominated by ridges. Ridge upon ridge upon ridge is shamelessly impacted into a river valley of converging drainages. Logging roads pepper the folds and creases of the green, rumpled blanket landscape.
Nonstop ridges, everywhere you look there's ridges and the next ridge to sear your way down is just a quick van ride away from Oregon Adventures. Quoc Phan, owner of Tam Bikes and Sean Fekete poised above perfect trails
This is not the place to come if you’re looking for a cute getaway. If you don’t like trails, you’ve got no business in Oakridge. Wealth and prosperity left this place in great haste with the closure of two lumber mills in the 1980s. More windows read closed than open as paint peels off dilapidated clapboard on storefronts that once threatened food and drink.
But something is stirring.
Mountain biking is saving Oakridge.
People like Randy Dreiling, owner of Oregon Adventures and organizer of Mountain Bike Oakridge, all members of GOATS (Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards) and DOD (Disciples of Dirt) get it. Have great trails and access that you work on and improve, provide maps and shuttle guiding, and poof! Your town’s financial woes are over, mountain bikers will flock to tacky ribbons of perfection.
The West Fir Lodge has delectable gourmet food, beer on tap, and rooms for a reasonable rate in a preserved, historic lodge a stone's throw from the famed Alpine Trail finish. They also donate a healthy percentage to GOATS, the Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewardship to keep the trails perfect and growing. Don't let cutesy scare you away, prices and people are great at this place.
While mountain biking hasn’t turned Oakridge into the next Boulder, it has certainly helped and those seeking singletrack overload at seemingly too reasonable of pricing need not look further. You can stay in a clean hotel and not even feel like you’re getting ripped off, imagine that. Warning to the needy: there is no Starbucks in town but a drive-through espresso station should satisfy most caffeine-cravings.
No Starbucks and no Boulder, CO but neighboring Westfir has two key ingredients that'll satisfy the scenic-hungry: roses and a covered bridge. Yeah, sensitive like.
Those who would like all the work done for them and none of the thinking involved, look no further than Mountain Bike Oregon. Three full days of shuttles, demo bikes, mechanical support, amazing barbeque and meals, local beer and wine every night in the beer garden, and camping are included for $399. Yup that’s everything listed for that price. Sign up here.
You know it's trouble when the sombrero comes out and you've got babies and beer present at the same table. Good times in Oakridge.
If you’d rather head up with your own crew, give Oregon Adventures a ring (541-968-5397) to book shuttles, they’re economical and very worth it – the lovely old-growth trees that make for some of the world’s best soil also make it difficult to navigate by sight when bombing around the maze of logging roads. Things are marked but you quickly feel enveloped and swallowed by the greenery, almost a Heart of Darkness feel to self-navigating.
Quoc coming up for air from a sea of green.
One thing to note, if you’re headed up from the bay area, Oakridge is a very healthy drive north. Think all of and then some from 8 hours. This can make a standard weekend a hard sell. Want amazing trails at the sub 6 hour mark? Go to Ashland and get shuttles with Bill and Sue of Ashland Mountain Adventures, it really is that good – read this post here to get an idea of a couple trails.