Besides some of the mountain biking trails Oregon has to offer, what attracts most riders to the Cascade Range is the flora and fauna. It is estimated that over half of Willamette National Forest is covered in old growth trees. Since the coastal Douglas fir and western red cedar dominate here, you’ll ride under canopies of 300-foot monsters with diameters of up to eight feet. What the Willamette lacks in expansive views, it more than makes up for in scenery closed in by some of the largest, lushest foliage in the world. Here are the best trails you need to ride when you make the pilgrimage.
1. Alpine Trail
Dubbed Oregon’s crown jewel, Alpine is the trail of choice for most riders seeking an all-inclusive package. Although it’s the longest descending trail in Oakridge, an overall elevation gain of 2,000 feet make Alpine’s 15 miles feel more like 30.
Alpine begins with an earnest one-mile grunt (from the shuttle drop-off) before opening up to the picturesque Sourgrass Meadow. This marks the beginning of many high-speed descents punctuated by short climbs. The initial 800-foot loss swoops two miles through loamy singletrack peppered with rock and root. “Jedi Forest” follows, and is aptly-named for both its scenery and pitch, allowing for full speed descending through old-growth giants.
Short climbs and more ripping descents are interrupted by the occasional grand view of Willamette National Forest from bench-cut singletrack. In the final 7.5 miles, the bottom gives out as you drop 2,800 feet. If you pick the right time of year, you’ll be greeted by wild blackberries at trail’s end.
Technically two unique trails, I suggest signing up with Oregon Adventures for a double shuttle to ride both Lawler and Hardesty. You are, of course, free to climb any Oakridge trail, but you’ll need every bit of your legs for the descents.