2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
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! 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](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2039637/MERA:_Tom_G_Special_Loop) 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](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2039669/North_Knob_-%3E_Dead_Bull_Moto_Loop/) 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!