Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Mountain Biking - Central Oregon

The high desert of Central Oregon, protected from heavy rain by the Cascade mountains, is a perfect location for Spring mountain biking. On some of the lower elevation trails, it might even be the best time of the year. The trails are still firm, not yet chewed up by heavy traffic, and there is not a sign of the duff you will experience laster in the summer. Despite being situated at over 3,000 feet above sea level, the Bend area is a prime location for Spring mountain biking due to it's dry, high-desert climate. There are a number of reliable locations where you can get out on the trails early in the season.

Phil's Trail System 
Kent's Trail in April

The Phil's trail system below Whoops is in great shape this time of year despite the high daily use. The lowest section within the first couple miles of the trail head parking lot can sometimes be a bit wet. Generally though it is smooth and packed at this time of year. Even with an inch or two of snow on the trail, the traction can be quite good. After a mountain snowfall, it only takes a few hours of sunshine to melt off most of the snow.


Maston, only 20 minutes north of Bend, is comprised of a series of larger and smaller loops through juniper forests bordering the Deschutes River. Even without a gps it is quite easy to get your bearings on while riding since Cline Butte is visible on the north side of the trail area. Most of the trail is winding single track with small climbs and descents and a few technical rocky sections. It's a great trail system to get a nice workout and warm up early in the season.

Deschutes River Trail--Near Lava Falls

Close to town, beautiful scenery: The trail near Lava Falls is a bit of Spring paradise. You need to shake off your cabin fever. This is a great place to do it.

View from Peterson Ridge
Peterson Ridge           

In Spring, the Peterson Ridge trail is in perfect riding condition: dry, firm and fun, even after a Spring snowfall. Once the sun is out, which is often in Central Oregon the moisture disappears. I rode this trail in April on a windy day as a cold front was passing down from Washington and dumping snow in the mountains. You could see the snow falling all day up in the mountains and the rain moving toward Peterson Ridge. Almost miraculously, it evaporated before it could fall on us.

Peterson Ridge trails start just south of downtown Sisters and are a mix of winding single track, fun climbs and quick descents. There are a few technical stretches where the trail winds through lava fields. The view alone is worth the ride. And when you are done riding there is good food in town.



Deschutes River Trail

Peterson Ridge Trail