Smith Rock (River, Burma, Summit Loop, Wolf Tree Trails)
Trailhead Elevation: 2848 ft
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This trail system offers some of the unsurpassed views of the scenic Smith Rock area, with the pleasure – and pain – of accessing those views on two wheels. This ride connecting several trails involves some technical sections, some of them on steep uphills, and involves a lot of climbing. You can access these trails via the Grey Butte trailhead to the north, to enjoy coming down the trail instead of up it, but that involves a car shuttle.
The ride starts down from the Smith Rock parking lot, across a footbridge and onto the River Trail. This is a high-mixed-use trail, with plenty of hikers, climbers and dogs using it, so take it easy on this section as the Crooked River meanders to the left and sheer rock walls rise to the sky on the right.
The trail heads north, out of the canyon and congestion and onto some mixed-bag singletrack – stay to your left on the River Trial at the fork with Mesa Verde. From here, there’s more fun singletrack for about a half mile before things start heading up and getting interesting.
Veer left on to the Summit Loop Trail, and be warned – you’ll need some more advanced mountain biking skills to negotiate the steep, rocky climbs on this sidehill section of trail. Lose your balance left and you could tumble down to the river.
The trail enters a small section of private property and continues a gradual climb, but on much more forgiving terrain, with clear views of the Cascades behind in the distance. Take a right at the sign for a quick .6 mile trek to the viewpoint – it’s not the summit of the climb, but it’s a great spot to stop and take in the canyon below.
The next mile and a quarter includes about 13 switchbacks – some short and quick, some more spread out, all rideable, but all heading uphill to a peak elevation of about 3,500 feet.
Five miles into the ride you’ll reach the summit and more amazing views looking southwest into the park before heading down the Burma Road Trail, a wide, teeth-chattering dirt road with loose soil and large rocks that force you to pay close attention to your braking and line.
At the bottom, stay to the right and look for a sneaky entrance to more singletrack heading back into the canyon. This section is short but quite steep and technical.
Finish by riding back toward the river and connecting with the Wolf Tree Trail, a really fun half-mile section of trail along the river (again, crowded with hikers) that offers great views of the rock cliffs as you cross the footbridge over the river and back up to the parking area.
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