mountain biking oakridge oregon

The Four Best Mountain Biking Trails in Oregon

If you love taking jumps, climbing/descending hills and tackling diverse terrain, Oregon is the state for you for mountain biking. It’s the ninth largest in the country, with an average elevation of 3,300 feet. Unlike Arizona, Utah and Colorado, it’s also right next to the coast, creating a vibrant blend of scenery guaranteed to keep you on your toes. Use this guide to find the best mountain biking trails in Oregon for an off-road adventure you’ll never forget.

Mountain Biking in Oregon: General Tips

You’ll encounter a wide range of terrain if you hit every trail on this list. Consider a mountain bike designed for the landscape. Use a cross-country bike to get a moderate grip on different types of ground. Go with a downhill mountain bike with reinforced brakes and coil suspension on steep descents to improve braking and reduce vibrations. Reduce your tire psi levels in the sand and increase it when navigating rocks. 

Wear the proper mountain biking gear to protect yourself from slips and falls. You should use a full-face helmet or a half-face helmet with goggles to shield your eyes. Add knee, shoulder and elbow pads when climbing or going downhill to cushion what would otherwise be a painful fall.

The state tends to have dry summers and wet winters with little snowfall, which makes for a longer riding season. However, the extra moisture and steep elevation can lead to mudslides. Avoid slick conditions, and prepare for rain by waterproofing your gear. Long ponchos, waterproof boots and gloves are a must.

Taking your hands off the handlebars or your eyes off the path is always risky, but it’s especially dangerous when the trail could curve at any moment. Dense mist and rain can also obstruct your view, making it difficult to navigate. Use Bluetooth bike helmets to communicate seamlessly with your riding partner up to a mile apart. You can coordinate your speed and direction to stay together when the road gets narrow. 

Buy the Cardo Packtalk Outdoor with voice activation to stay focused on the path. It automatically connects when in range using Dynamic Mesh and Bluetooth technology for hands-free communication every step of the way. You’ll feel like you’re right next to your companion, even if they are a mile up the trail. 

Use the Cardo Packtalk Outdoor to Communicate Hands-Free on the Trail
mckenzie river trail oregon

Source: Exploring and Living/

The Best Trails for Mountain Biking in Oregon

1. McKenzie River

A bona fide tourist magnet, this versatile trail has options for riders of all experience levels. The upper course winds through steep leafy hills to help you escape the sun, while the lower portion runs through the forest with moderate elevation. Both loop around waterfalls, the river and crystal-blue, tropical-looking reservoirs. 

The entire route runs 25 miles, but we recommend hitting the Tamolitch Pool if you’re in a rush, a 3.9-mile stretch that only takes around 90 minutes to complete. Watch out for birders, hikers and dog walkers throughout, especially around the park’s signature blue pool.

2. Trillium Lake

This wooded trail is the perfect introduction to the Oregon wilderness. It’s only 1.9 miles long and climbs 26 feet. The loop circumscribes the lake and offers stunning views of Mt. Hood, the state’s tallest peak. You can easily tackle it in under an hour, leaving plenty of time for a hike or picnic. The area is a popular campground destination, so be prepared to yield.

3. Tide Ride

The Tide Ride jets out over the water for panoramic ocean views. You have to ride 15 miles through wet sand to get to the end of the jetty, passing a historic shipwreck along the way. It’s entirely flat, with harsh winds coming off the water. Go to the end around sundown to see the best sunset of your life.

4. Misery Ridge

With a name like a Stephen King novel, this brutal loop offers genuine thrills. It’s a tight-weaving trail that demands serious climbing chops. It gains 1,761 feet in elevation over 6.2 miles, often in rapid succession. It will transport you to the great American West with rigid rock formations, including one that looks like a monkey. There’s virtually no ground cover, so pack plenty of sunscreen and water. 

crooked river misery ridge

Source: Marisa Estivill/

From rocky coasts and sweeping lakes to jagged hills, Oregon has a little bit of everything. The terrain changes rapidly as you travel east, with mountains, deserts, beaches and everything in between. Adjust your bike and riding style based on the topography to experience everything this unique state has to offer.