Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley is a hidden gem filled with mountain adventure!
Few people will have "Southern Oregon" written on their bucket list of must-visit mountain destinations, but if you've ever driven through Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley while heading up or down Interstate 5, you might wonder why you've never heard of it before. Rolling mountain ridges surround the valley, with the tallest mountains soaring over a vertical mile above the valley floor. In the distance, snowcapped volcanic peaks tower over the landscape, providing omnipresent navigational landmarks. This mountainous landscape is home to hundreds of miles of trails and a lifetime of adventure... if you're willing to dig a little.
While the Rogue Valley wasn't originally high on my hit list, I had been vaguely familiar with the town of Ashland for some time. Mt. Ashland has long been a paradise for enduro riders looking to rip endless shuttle runs. In fact, mountain bikers have been skidding down the flanks of Mt. Ashland since before the word "enduro" was associated with the sport. These days, Ashland is a popular stop for the California Enduro Series, as it sits just across the California border. When the opportunity arose to immerse myself in the landscape of Southern Oregon, I jumped at the chance!
A four-month stay gave me plenty of time to work with. I not only pedaled and hiked as many trails as I could find in the Rogue Valley, but I ventured further afield to explore the Mount McLoughlin area, Klamath Falls, Grants Pass. Mount Shasta and Redding in Northern California. I also ventured to Oregon's Coast Range on a long weekend and spent a week exploring Oakridge, but you can find out more about those two stops in separate guidebooks.
Thanks to my extended stay in true vagabonding style, this guidebook is chock full of adventures, both large and small. But if you're looking for a greatest hits list of the best mountain bike trails in Southern Oregon, be sure to read this dedicated guidebook.
While naturally I focused on shredding singletrack, my stint in the Rogue Valley spanned the changing of the seasons from late summer to mid-winter. After soaking in as much of the beautiful fall colors as possible, I had to embrace the cold and the rain, powering through less-than-optimal trail and weather conditions. But finally, finally, it began to snow! While I didn't get to spend a full season snowboarding at Mt. Ashland, I was fortunate enough to thoroughly explore the small ski area before departing the region in January. In uncharacteristic style, you'll find both summer and winter adventures in this guidebook.
Even after four months spent exploring the region, there are still stones that I didn't get the chance to turn over, still trails that I didn't get to ride or hike. But the ones I did explore thoroughly impressed me! Most notably, the shuttle runs on Mount Ashland can rank among the best shuttles in the Western USA. The backcountry rides near McLoughlin are wild and immersive. And the purpose-built trails on the Mountain of the Rogue are the stuff mountain bike dreams are made of.
The next time you're heading up or down the West Coast, consider a lengthy stop in Southern Oregon!