MERA: North Knob -> Caffeine Loop

Ride from the low point to the high point—and back!—of the MERA trail system.

Mountain Biking Difficult

Distance
24 km
Ascent
851 m
Descent
851 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
966 m
High Point
1.7 km
Gradient
MERA: North Knob -> Caffeine Loop Map

This loop climbs from the lowest MERA trailhead on Igo Lane all the way up to the top of North Knob, the highest point in the MERA trail system! In just 14.8 miles round-trip, you’ll climb and descend a whopping 2,800 vertical feet. Logging almost 200 vertical feet per mile on a loop ride is no joke, so be sure to bring your climbing legs for this one!

Description

The MERA Trail System is a convoluted network of singletrack, and this route weaves one of the best paths through the maze. Consequently, I won’t dive into all of the turns in detail—it’s best to just follow the map. However, one key option is to dive off of the Caffeine Trail onto Doing Time, and then doubling back to the Caffeine Trail after Doing Time’s jumps and drops end. This variant is known as the Tom G Special and is mapped separately.

Aside from the vast amount of descending, one of the highlights of this ride is the opportunity to enjoy incredible views from the upper reaches of Mount Emily. The higher you climb, the more incredible the views get, until you reach the Ridgeline trail and get to see the entire expanse of the valley spread out below you, and the Wallowa Mountains dominating the far horizon. The vistas from Ridgeline are truly jaw-dropping—be sure to savor them for a few minutes before you drop back into the trees.

North Knob and Upper Doing Time are a bit more technical than most of the rest of MERA, although they still aren’t much to write home about in the gnar department. However, you will get to enjoy some high-speed descents a few chunky bits before you drop back into the tight twisties of Caffeine’s berms.

For an even longer ride, you could consider dropping down the moto trails on the opposite side of the mountain, then climbing back up and completing this ride as mapped. But if you drop down the opposite side, be ultra-certain that you can climb back up and over to get back to your original starting location!

Difficulty

Difficult

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability featuring larger and more unavoidable obstacles that may include, but not be limited to: bigger stones, roots, steps, and narrow curves. Compared to lower intermediate, technical difficulty is more advanced and grades of slopes are steeper. Ideal for upper intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Flow
  • Technical
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Drops
  • Jumps
  • Roots
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area