Guidebook

Deep Forests and Loamy Dirt: Best MTB in Oakridge, OR

There's really nothing going on in Oakridge... except for mountain biking.

Greg Heil

Description

"You're just... visiting? Who comes to Oakridge just to visit?" asked Stewart.

"Well, I'm here to ride mountain bikes," I replied.

"Oh, ok. My name's Stewart. Robert Stewart. Have you heard of Stewart's Drive-in down on 58? Yeah, my family started that," Stewart told me and dozens of other people as we watched his brother tear up the electric guitar on a small outdoor stage on Halloween night.

Even the long time locals can't imagine why anyone would want to visit Oakridge. Stewart himself had spent most of his life in Texas and only just returned to Oakridge recently. But if you ask most any mountain biker in the western USA, they've at least heard of Oakridge, if not ridden there themselves.

This small Oregon logging town halfway between Eugene and Bend has literally almost nothing going for it. Sure, Stewart's serves a mean burger and milkshake, and you'll also find a small brewpub in downtown... but that's about it for decent restaurants. A few hole-in-the-wall spots sling high quality eats one or two nights a week, and there's also a small distillery where I found the aforementioned outdoor stage. But beyond that, all Oakridge offers is a few locals-only dives and a small grocery store.

That, and mountain biking.

Hidden in the deep forests of the Cascade Mountains is a massive network of loamy singletrack trails descending thousands of feet off the tops of the nearby mountains. Dark black dirt reigns supreme, with root webs and rock gardens punctuating the high-speed descents. Occasionally, you'll break out of the forest onto a rocky mountain peak or into a wide-open meadow and be awed by the expansive long-range views of the Cascades. The mountain ridges and pine forests spread out in an endless sea, giving the impression that the entire world is covered in trees.

While the core of the trail network consists of historic national forest singletrack, local mountain bikers have been hard at work maintaining and improving the existing trails, while simultaneously building new and better trails specifically for mountain biking. Even though Oakridge is downright tiny and completely nondescript, especially when you compare it to its nearby neighbor of Bend, it's now home to one of the best mountain bike trail systems in the Pacific Northwest. The quality of the trails here has even earned Oakridge a gold-level ride center designation from IMBA.

While the rest of the infrastructure might be lacking, the mountain bike infrastructure is well-developed. Willamette Mountain Mercantile is the OG bike shop and shuttle company in Oakridge, but shuttle demand is so high that Cog Wild, based in nearby Bend, has successfully established a dedicated arm of the company here. Trans Cascadia has created a groundbreaking race format, and is also based here in Oakridge. Mountain Bike Oregon has brought the bike testing festival format to Oregon and is based in, you guessed it, Oakridge. And above and beyond these organizations, a wide swath of different races have stops or make their homes in this small town.

No, there's really nothing going on in Oakridge... except for mountain biking. And that's kind of magical.

Alpine Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Alpine Trail

Oakridge
25.7 km
769 m
1,571 m
Known as the "crown jewel" of Oakridge, the Alpine Trail easily ranks among the best shuttle routes in the world.
Difficult
Private
Waldo Lake Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Waldo Lake Loop

Oakridge
31.0 km
544 m
544 m
IMBA Epic backcountry loop around Waldo Lake.
Difficult
Private
ATCA Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

ATCA Shuttle

Oakridge
42.9 km
1,545 m
2,347 m
A backcountry point-to-point ride of epic proportions.
Difficult
Private
Dead Mountain Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Dead Mountain Shuttle

Oakridge
11.4 km
67 m
828 m
Flowy intermediate-friendly shuttle run.
Moderate
Private
Lawler Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Lawler Shuttle

Oakridge
13.1 km
249 m
1,153 m
The deepest, darkest zone in Oakridge.
Difficult
Private
Larison Rock Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Larison Rock Loop

Oakridge
18.9 km
873 m
873 m
One of the best loop rides from downtown Oakridge.
Moderate
Private
Hardesty Mountain Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hardesty Mountain Shuttle

Oakridge
12.1 km
349 m
1,049 m
Deep, dark, and fast--this is one of the furthest shuttles from Oakridge.
Difficult
Private
Eula Ridge Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Eula Ridge Shuttle

Oakridge
10.7 km
360 m
1,067 m
The steepest descent in Oakridge!
Severe
Private
Heckletooth Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Heckletooth Loop

Oakridge
39.1 km
1,406 m
1,406 m
An overgrown but rewarding trail!
Severe
Private
Salmon Creek Out-and-Back
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Salmon Creek Out-and-Back

Oakridge
13.0 km
140 m
140 m
The perfect beginner trail!
Easy
Private