FATMAP difficulty grade
The Heckletooth Trail isn't on the radar of most mountain bikers that visit Oakridge.
Instead, this is a local's loop ride that most riders choose to pedal from town.
But with 4,600 feet of climbing in a 24-mile loop, you'd better be prepared for a beat down! After climbing thousands of feet of little-used forest roads, you'll drop into the Lower Bunchgrass trail.
This trail is even lesser-ridden than Heckletooth, since you can skip this section of trail and drop into Heckletooth earlier on in the climb if you're looking for an out.
But if you do choose to pedal up to Bunchgrass, you'll be rewarded with a narrow, serpentine singletrack trail twisting through a dense forest, that then rips down a high-speed descent. Both Heckletooth and Bunchgrass are perennially overgrown, with vegetation leaning into the trail and sticks and debris covering the trail tread.
And yet, the locals keep these trails cleared of down trees so that they are still 100% open and rideable.
If the locals didn't do maintenance, one winter season could close these trails for good.
Even though maintenance is definitely undertaken every season, you'll still get the feeling of being on a true adventure ride as you journey through deep, dark forests and pop out on top of cliffs with jaw-dropping views.
And you might not see another soul on the entire loop! Heckletooth keeps that backcountry feeling alive, but it's a bit better ridden in than Bunchgrass.
Here, you'll find classic loamy Oakridge singletrack, but the trail tread is generally narrower and tighter than the more popular trails, demanding constant vigilance.
Some steep, tight switchbacks are unrideable for many mountain bikers, and you'll even encounter some of the steepest, most technical, and most exposed rock moves in Oakridge. In one spot, the singletrack bursts out of the trees on top of a ridge, providing stunning views over the Cascades! A delightful stretch of exposed ridgetop riding follows, with dry, rocky soil reminiscent of points further east. A few of the tech sections on Heckletooth are no joke, and a fall could cause serious injury.
Remember that you might not see another soul? If you crash and get incapacitated out here, you could very well die.
Ride aware and cautious. The combination of dark loam, steep tech moves, and rocky singletrack all help make Heckletooth not only one of the most demanding rides in Oakridge, but also one of the most diverse and most rewarding.
If you're up for the challenge, Heckletooth guarantees a sweet reward!