Applegate Lake Loop

A beautiful cross country mountain bike ride way off the beaten path.

Mountain Biking Moderate

Distance
28 km
Ascent
666 m
Descent
667 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
594 m
High Point
680 m
Gradient
Applegate Lake Loop Map

While most of the mountain bike trails in Oregon seem to be either straight up or straight down, circumnavigating Applegate Lake is a beautiful cross country mountain bike ride the defies the convention.

Description

The Applegate Lake Loop mostly follows narrow, sinuous singletrack along the edge of the lake basin, with some short sections of road used to connect both ends of the loop. While there are one or two stiff climbs to be overcome, the vast majority of the trail is quite flat and mellow, providing the perfect long-distance mountain bike ride for cross country riders. Short rises and dips punctuate the mostly-flowy trail, keeping the ride engaging at all times.

Aside from a couple of rocks and roots, the singletrack is quite non-technical and easy to navigate. Cross country mountain bikers of all stripes will enjoy the flowy singletrack, and even ambitious riders on gravel bikes can negotiate this trail. Possibly the only true challenge comes from the narrow, tight trail tread. In some places, the trail snakes between tall trees and the eroded bank above the exposed lakebed. Some of these bankside sections are considerably exposed, and in places the trail tread has eroded away, requiring a reroute.

The entire ride is filled with beautiful views of the lake bed, the Applegate River, and the surrounding mountain peaks. The nearby forested ridges are seemingly endless, but off in the distance, you can glimpse taller, rocky peaks across the border in California.

If you're looking for additional mileage and climbing, consider adding on Collings Mountain or the Sinns Bar Trail. Neither of these trails is very technical, but you'll be adding considerable elevation gain, especially with Collings Mountain.

If you've bitten off more than you can chew, on the western side of the lake you can bail off the singletrack at a few points and finish the ride on the pavement. However, do note that the stretch of trail on the eastern shore is quite committing. At points, you'll be many miles from the closest road, with your only two options being continuing forward or turning around and going back.

However you choose to tackle this loop, Applegate Lake will reward you with an incredible backcountry mountain biking experience!

Difficulty

Moderate

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Flow
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • Roots

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area