Olallie Ridge: A Descent Worth Climbing For

  • Author:
    Brynna King
  • Posted in:

Photo courtesy of Nate Pfeifer

Calling all mountain goats and adrenaline junkies: Olallie Ridge is a trail that belongs on every mountain biker’s bucket list. Tucked behind the McKenzie River near the little mountain town of McKenzie Bridge, Olallie is a purely single-track loop that turns, twists, rises up and dives down for a gnarly 20 miles, with one of the most rewarding descents you’ll ever experience. This hard-earned 5,000-foot rush follows more than 4,000 feet of climbing up ribbons of single-track that lace around tight switchbacks to amazing views of the river, Central Oregon backcountry and the Three Sisters Mountains.

The ride is well worth the hard work, and the International Mountain Biking Association agrees — in 2013, IMBA designated Olallie Ridge as one of its Epic Rides. To qualify as an Epic, a trail must be a “demanding, single-track adventure in a natural setting.” IMBA’s 2013 selections are all at least 80 percent single-track and at least 20 miles long, described as “true backcountry riding experiences that are technically and physically challenging.”

We say “challenging” is an accurate assessment. If you decide to take a trip up the ridge, stay safe out there — make sure you and your bike are both geared up for a tough, all-day ride, and bring a buddy and emergency gear; this is real backcountry.

Olallie Ridge is rideable from mid-spring through late fall. For more trail stats and details, check out these resources:

Olallie Ridge Loop
IMBA Epics: Olallie Ridge
MTB Project: Olallie Ridge Loop

If you’re unfamiliar with the area or want someone to hold your hand up the steeps (figuratively, of course), Cog Wild offers two McKenzie River-area guided mountain biking tours that include Olallie Ridge.

Jonesin’ for more Central Oregon trails? Check out trails near Oakridge, an IMBA silver-level Ride Center that’s home to Waldo Lake Trail, another IMBA Epic Ride, or choose a trailhead near McKenzie River or Bend.

Photo courtesy of Cog Wild

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  1. Easily the best ride in that area. Doesn’t get the recognition it deserves…until now!