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Central Oregon Mountain Biking Trails

Two-wheeled Fun for Everyone

From magazine spreads to filtered Instagram images, Central Oregon is making a name for itself in mountain biking. Consider this: More than 300 miles of linked singletrack (mountain biker talk for biking trails that are only wide enough for a single rider) is so close to town that many of the riders actually ride to the trails from town (or from Pine Mountain Sports, where a full fleet of Trek and Santa Cruz rentals are available.)

And just outside Bend, you’ll find another 700-some miles of diverse mountain bike trails with amazing scenery. Add to that Mt. Bachelor’s new lift-served downhill mountain bike park and cross country mountain bike trail system that will be ready in for Summer 2015 and, well, the “hub” of mountain biking in the U.S. is right here in Central Oregon.

Paulina Peak – Newberry Crater | 36 miles SE of Bend
20 miles
Aerobically strenuous, technically intermediate
This underrated Central Oregon mountain biking trail starts at the Paulina Lake Campground with a tough 3 mile, 1,600-foot climb but is very scenic, offering views of Paulina and East lakes and the Cascades. Be sure to pick up a day-use pass because the ride is within a national monument. This is some high-altitude riding with the trail taking you up to 7,600 feet.

Gray ButteSmith Rock | Terrebonne
9 to 12 mile loops
Aerobically strenuous, technically intermediate
This area north of Redmond in Terrebonne offers a diverse selection of trails. The riding within Smith Rock State Park has everything from pavement to gravel to buff singletrack and loose rocks on sidehill trails. Much of this area is busy during the day with hikers so be alert. The Gray Butte area offers some strenuous riding with some great views of Smith Rock and the Cascades. Both of these Central Oregon mountain biking trails are best ridden in Spring and Fall as it can get pretty hot out there in the summer months.

Phil’s Trail Network | Bend
Lengths vary
Moderately aerobic, technically easy to advanced
The Phil’s Trail complex is the most popular Central Oregon mountain biking trail area for locals and visitors alike. From the main parking lot, which is just minutes from downtown Bend, you can access hundreds of miles of trails for riders of every ability level. Most of the trails, including Ben’s and Kent’s Trails are fast, flowy singletrack but the are includes a couple of technical areas on C.O.D., Voodoo and Grand Slam. Several local bike shops do group rides in the area as well. Loops can range from 4 miles to more than 20 depending on how far up you want to go.

Deschutes River Trail | Bend
13.8 miles (one way to Sunriver)
Aerobically easy to moderate, technically easy to intermediate
This is a great trail to introduce yourself to what Central Oregon mountain biking is all about. It’s a pretty easy ride suitable for families, but it offers enough of a challenge that it’s a favorite among experienced riders as well. It’s a scenic out and back to Sunriver that follows the Deschutes River as it cuts through open meadows and a lava field with amazing views of class IV rapids and waterfalls.

The Radlands | Redmond
5 miles of singletrack in two loops
Aerobically easy/intermediate, technically intermediate/advanced
Here, 30 miles of new Central Oregon mountain biking trails are planned, but only about 5 miles of singletrack are done and ready to ride. A couple of short loops – one a little harder than the other – are a fun alternative to the Phil’s system, especially in the spring and fall. Plenty of double track trails are also available now in the area, but be sure to have a map as they aren’t well marked. The views of Smith Rock, the Three Sisters and surrounding desert are worth the drive north from Bend.

Horse Butte | Bend
Distances vary by loop
Aerobically easy, technically intermediate
This is a popular riding Central Oregon mountain bike trail system in the late fall, winter and early spring as its wide open landscape gets plenty of sun and rarely holds on to the snow that might fall there. The Coyote Loop Trail combined with the Arnold Ice Cave Trail is a fun 12-mile ride. It features a little bit of climbing, but lots of rolling, curvy singletrack with some lava rock to negotiate. The highlight is halfway through and a stop at the Boyd Cave, an 1,800-foot long lava tube. Trails can be connected to make the loops longer or shorter.

Horse Ridge | 20 miles East of Bend
Loop distances vary
Aerobically strenuous, technically advanced
When the snow flies, mountain bikers flock to Horse Ridge, the perfect winter Central Oregon mountain biking trail. Flowing singletrack cuts through juniper bushes and trees and over lava rocks – lots of lava rocks, making this ride a fun challenge. Like most of the biking complexes in the area, different trails can be put together to extend your time in the saddle.

Edison-Lava Trail | 23 Miles SW of Bend
21 miles (out and back)
Aerobically strenuous, technically advanced
More than 2,000 feet of climbing await skilled riders in a fun, but technical out and back. The reward – a dip in Lava Lake and a beer at the lodge.

Flagline Trail | 22 miles SW of Bend
Distances vary
Aerobically strenuous, technically intermediate to advanced
One of the best Central Oregon mountain bike trails also happens to have one of the shortest seasons. Because of its elevation, it’s usually only open mid-summer (in fact, part is closed until mid-August to protect an elk calving area.) You can do a shorter counterclockwise loop around Tumalo Mountain or continue down toward Bend connecting with one of several trails for the classic 20+ mile “Bachelor to Bend” ride. Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours & Shuttles offers a lift up the hill during the summer so you don’t have to worry about going back for your car.

McKenzie River Trail | 53 miles West of Bend
26 miles (one way)
Moderately strenuous, technically easy to advanced
The McKenzie River Trail might just be the one Central Oregon mountain bike trail to ride if you had only one trail to ride. It’s west of the Cascades – on the wetter side – so the scenery looks more like a rain forest than a high desert. The trail cuts through a lush old-growth forest filled with Douglas firs, moss, and ferns that overlook the McKenzie River. A good mix of fast, flowing singletrack and rooted technical sections take you to some amazing views of waterfalls and the river.

Shevlin Park | Bend
4.8 miles
Aerobically easy to moderate, technically intermediate
Just outside the city limits of Bend, Shevlin is a popular trail to do on its own or to start a longer ride heading up to and connecting with the forest service trails like Mrazek. The trail around the rim of the park is a short little loop where you’ll likely see a lot of joggers and hikers. It’s a perfect ride to introduce your kids to Central Oregon mountain biking trails as it’s relatively flat for them and scenic for you.

Wanoga Complex Trails | 15 miles West of Bend
Distances vary
Moderate to strenuous, technically intermediate to advanced
This growing Central Oregon mountain biking complex (new trails are opening each year) south of the Cascade Lakes Scenic bikeway is quickly becoming a favorite among locals. The trails start near the sledding hill and warming huts east of the park entrance. “Funner” is a fun little downhill right out of the gate that can be paired with “Tiddlywinks” and some others for a loop staying on that side of the road or, if you have a shuttle car, you can hook up with Storm King, cross the highway and access Phil’s Trail complex back into town.

Maston Area MTB Trails | About 10 miles from Bend between Tumalo and Eagle Crest
10 to 15-mile loop options
Aerobically easy and technically intermediate
An increasingly popular Central Oregon mountain biking area, especially in the off-season, Maston offers a few different loop options on singletrack through ancient junipers. The high-desert setting also provides plenty of good views along with some diverse trails.

For current trail conditions and reports, visit the Central Oregon Trail Alliance website.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

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