FATMAP difficulty grade
Spence Mountain offers mountain bikers a curated mountain bike-specific trail experience in Southern Oregon.
With professionally-built trails covering the mountain, the caliber of the singletrack here is higher than most places in Southern Oregon. The loop ride mapped here descends the most technical trail on the mountain, earning it an "extreme" FATMAP difficulty rating.
However, over three quarters of this loop is much easier than that rating belies.
You can definitely construct a less technical ride on Spence Mountain by avoiding the North Ridge descent. The route begins by looping around the mountain on the Mazama Trail.
After a few miles of mellow, rolling singletrack, Mazama gains some elevation, delivering riders to the flow trail descent on Lower Hooligan.
Small tabletop jumps and berms offer a great little downhill rip, but it does feel like the builders didn't account for bike speed properly when they built this section.
It's very easy to overcook the jumps and the berms. Once at the upper trailhead, take a turn and begin the second major climb of the day as you head for the top of Spence Mountain.
While the climbing trail is bike-optimized and rideable the whole way, it's still a serious grunt to get to the top of North Ridge. Finally, you're at the main course of the meal! The North Ridge descent is what this ride is all about.
This steep singletrack packs in everything an advanced mountain biker could ever want.
The upper section offers up steep rock rolls, ledge drops that can turn into significant hucks if you launch far enough, and chunky rock gardens. The middle section of the trail is packed with technical, challenging rock gardens.
In sections, you'll have to slow your roll to carefully pick your way through fields of sharp lava rock. Down low, Spence Mountain changes character dramatically by switching into a big jump line with massive tabletops and a few doubles.
While all of the jumps can be bypassed, this is a serious jump line for expert riders. North Ridge is easily one of the most technical trails in Southern Oregon (maybe all of Oregon?).
Sending all the drops requires double black diamond skills, but if you pick your line carefully and ride around all the obstacles, you could potentially call this trail a single black.
Either way, this is a true masterpiece of technical mountain bike trail construction!