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Olallie Ridge Loop

  • Length:
    19.1 miles
  • Difficulty:
    Extreme
  • Best Season(s):
    Late Spring to Early Fall
  • Nearby Cities:
    McKenzie Bridge, Blue River, Cascadia
  • Region:
    Willamette Valley
  • Attributes:
    Mountain Views, Single-Track, Technical

Trailhead Elevation: 2519 ft

Directions

In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.

Directions

From the Olallie North trailhead on National Forest Road #1993 head south on Trail #3529. The climbing starts immediately; get used to it. After what seems like too long surrounded by tall trees and leafy rhododendrons, the trail will cross National Forest Road #340 and you can take solace knowing that you’re about halfway up the mountain.

Not too far past the road, turn right on to Trail #3321 and out towards the ridge. The landscape changes and the trail gets narrower, more rugged and rocky. You’ll pass the high point next to McLennan Mountain, but won’t get a break until you’ve switchbacked up to Macduff Mountain. Stop here, scramble up the scree slope and savor the view of the Cascades.

The trail finally heads downward, and with a vengeance. The vertical peels off the altimeter as wildflowers and views fly by, but don’t take your eyes off the tread for a moment because the only predictable part of the ride is that it is unpredictable. Sharp turns, rocks, bear grass obscuring the trail and nonchalant porcupines are standard fare.

After passing a large segment of rock retaining wall that was built during the Great Depression, the trail crosses National Forest Road #411; don’t miss the barely discernable tread as it heads back up the hill on the right side of the road. The trail again takes a nosedive on an old-school descent that will have you wondering how people ever rode mountain bikes before disc brakes and dropper posts.

After crossing National Forest Road #411 for a third and final time keep your eyes peeled for the intersection with Trail #3506, which will sneak by as you float through the emerald woods. Turn right and head past eight-foot diameter Douglas fir trees while catching a break along this rolling segment before climbing to the intersection with Trail #4362.

Payback time. Ingest some sugar, shake the lactic acid from your legs, and get your flow on as you twist though a moss-encrusted forest on a trail that looks like it was tailor made for your weary body. Once you’ve whooped and hollered one last time at King’s Castle trailhead it is time to roll into McKenzie Bridge and eat a large meal of gluten, dairy and meat, because you’ve earned it.

Restrictions
Open mid-spring through late fall. Check with locals for snow conditions and removal of downed trees.

Overview
This ride is the burly, backcountry brother to the nearby and more famous McKenzie River Trail (MRT). While the MRT offers easily accessible singletrack, the Olallie Ridge Loop serves up endless backcountry adventure with narrow trail hurtling into tight switchbacks, rock walls built decades ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, throttling climbs and a final descent that makes you forget the pain.

Need To Know

Although both trailheads are accessible by vehicle, a good way to link the two is to ride from the King’s Castle trailhead east on King Road/National Forest Road #2639, and then climb south on National Forest Road #1993 to the Olallie North trailhead. Starting the ride from nearby McKenzie Bridge offers restrooms, parking, and food/beverages. Going big with this route adds several pavement and gravel road miles, but more importantly puts the total climbing near 6,000 vertical feet of leg-searing ascending. Ah, but the payback. . .

This ride requires fitness, skill and the ability to keep your cool in a remote, backcountry setting. If you break your ankle in the middle of this ride you’ll be spending the night before search and rescue can come retrieve you for your heli lift. Don’t do this ride alone and choose your crew carefully.

History & Background
The Civilian Conservation Corps built part of this trail in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Also make sure to check out the bronze plaque at the top of Macduff Mountain that commemorates Nelson F. Macduff who was an early forest supervisor.

Olallie Ridge Loop was designated as an International Mountain Biking Association Epic Ride in 2013.

Photos of this Ride

Comments

  1. Map, elevation profile and GPS track can be found here (includes the paved/gravel section that connects the two trail heads):

    https://ridewithgps.com/trips/9560067

Submitted by

Chris Bernhardt

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