Bend, Oregon reigns as one of the most famous mountain destinations in North America.
The formula to create a top mountain bike destination is now tried and true. Start with a small town with a few thousand people surrounded by sky-scraping mountain peaks or desert slickrock. Add a few hundred miles of high-quality singletrack trails, build a brewery and a bike shop, get the word out to the masses, and you’re good to go.
Bend, Oregon, on the other hand, defies this conventional formula. While Bend is renowned as one of the top multi-sport mountain destinations in the world, with mountain biking as one of the city’s main offerings, when you roll into downtown Bend you’ll realize that this isn’t your typical mountain destination.
Bend is a bustling city of about 100,000 residents with all the trappings that come with that population. Traffic is a thing, major big box stores are sprinkled across town, and the famous beer scene has lead to a different brewery being established on almost every street corner. While most top mountain destinations might offer one token brewery (maybe two if you’re lucky), Bend is home to a whopping 20-some breweries. That number continues to grow, and it could easily reach the 30s by the time you read this guidebook.
But as soon as you leave the bustling downtown and head west toward the mountains, the houses disappear and you’ll start passing a parade of trailheads along all of the major roads. The primary Phil’s Trailhead serving the bulk of the mountain bike trail system is located just out of town, and if you’ve picked a hotel or AirBNB on the west side, you could even ride from your lodging to the trails.
How many miles of singletrack does Bend boast? It depends on how big you draw the circle around, but it’s well over 300 miles of bike-legal singletrack. From the outskirts of town, Bend’s smooth, sandy trails spread out into an expansive interconnected network that provides all manner of mountain biking opportunities. Looking for a 5-mile ride for a totally new-to-the-sport mountain biker? Bend is the perfect place to learn. Prefer to spend all day riding 100 miles of singletrack without the need to do repetitive laps? Check out the High Cascades 100 for some inspiration.
If smooth, sandy singletrack isn’t your thing, head for one of Bend's popular feature-filled flow trails for jumps and berms: Tiddlywinks, Whoops, and Tyler’s Traverse. If you are in search of massive hits with no pedaling, bike parks like The Lair will fulfill that need.
While Bend isn’t known for rocky riding, a fair selection of rock drops and features can be found on trails like Funner, Storm King, and C.O.D. And for full-on downhill riding, head to Mount Bachelor for lift-served gnar in their bike park.
Some of the best mountain bike destinations in the nation can leave you asking “what now?" once the ride is over, but thanks to the diversity of Central Oregon and the amenities on offer in Bend, you’ll never be bored. Start by washing the omnipresent moon dust off in one of the crystal-clear mountain lakes along the Cascade Lakes Highway. After enjoying a cold one on the shores of a lake, head into downtown, spin the metaphorical wheel, and pick one of the dozens of breweries on offer. If you pick well, you’ll enjoy world-class beer, artisanal food, and possibly even live music.
The combination of a bustling city and hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails makes Bend a unique outdoor destination that appeals to both dirtbags and urbanites with outdoor aspirations. Whether you want to camp in the expansive national forest or stay in posh digs downtown, you can find your desired vacation experience and still get your singletrack fix in Bend!