Keeping Warm All Winter: Mountain Biking through Oregon
Even as temperatures start cooling and snow starts dusting the mountains, Oregon’s mountain bike trails await riders looking for off-season adventure. Trace the coastal route through Florence and Bandon, climb the Central Oregon trails of Horse Ridge and Maston, head to The Dalles and the Syncline Trails up in the Gorge, or stay near the city and amble through Powell Butte in Portland. The key is to know where to go and how to handle the specific challenges that face winter and early spring riding — such as freezing temperatures, winter downpours and early spring run-off that might catch riders by surprise, creating dangerous trail erosion.
For those who prefer gorgeous freshwater views, head to the Columbia River Gorge and the Syncline Trail. The Syncline Trail is like a ”Choose Your Own Adventure” book, giving riders their pick of old orchards, dirt roads or gravel switchbacks. The Dalles offers a peaceful ride along the river for those who want to amble. Closer to Portland, riders looking for a more challenging ride that’s still winter-accessible can hop on the Sandy Ridge Trails west of Mt. Hood in the Gorge.
If a drier desert climb is more your style, Central Oregon is the place to go. The Maston area boasts several trails with relatively low elevation and minimal snow in the colder seasons. For a shorter, moderately challenging ride, try the Shevlin Park Loop in Bend. Or, head just east of Bend on Highway 20 to the scenic Horse Ridge Trailhead, starting on Frontage Road.
If a sandy coastal trek is your calling, check out the Cummins Creek Loop south of Yachats. Coastal mountain ranges, though prone to rain, rarely experience snow and ice, making them very accessible during the winter.
No matter where you plan to hit the trails, it’s very important that you dress for the occasion. Dress warmly, but shoot for clothing that breathes well — you dont want to become an icicle of frozen perspiration on two wheels! Oregon riders are used to cycling through wet terrain, but as winter turns to spring, paths may be especially flooded and eroded, requiring some extra awareness. Oregon mountain biking is skill-based and many trails can be kid-safe depending on individual experience and supervision. So why not plan a mountain biking adventure for this year’s holiday itinerary? Oregon boasts both the climes and climbs for a wide gamut of skill levels, rain or shine, and biking up a mountain is sure to keep riders warm.