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The ATCA Trail

My buddy Chris always told me "The less you know the better." This has been my approach to mountain biking in general so when we loaded up the truck and left for Oakridge I really didn't have an idea of what I was getting into. Now don't get me wrong. I am not one of those foolish people that show up to ride in the backcountry unprepared. In fact I am the opposite in that sense. When my friends are rationing their last bits of a cliff bar I am the guy on the trail that will pull out a slice of left over pizza. Ok so back to the ATCA Trail.

The ATCA Trail is a legendary point to point in Oakridge linking up Upper Alpine, Tire Mountain, Cloverpatch and Lower Alpine. 24 miles of singletrack bliss. For some more detailed information on the ATCA Trail system head on over to the MTB Project.

It's late when we pull into our campsite in Black Canyon. We set up our tents and our tents and head right to bed. Rest.

Apparently some people climb up the gravel road but since we had multiple cars we shuttled our way up to the trail head. We even gave a couple other riders a lift up. Trail karma.

"From Windy Pass ride 1.2 miles on Alpine until you come to a trail junction. Tire Mountain is carved into an old log, turn right here, it’s a sharp little climb but mellows out quickly for awhile until you begin a very fun descent to the junction for the Cloverpatch trail. Be sure you are indeed heading up Cloverpatch and not dropping in on the Eugene to Crest Trail. Cloverpatch requires a bit more climbing to get to more run flowing trail. At the end of Clover patch you will be on a forest service road. Up until 2013 you would have had to descend this and ride the North Shore Road back to Westfir but thanks to local trail building efforts and the Cascade Cream Puff they built a connector trail to bring you back out just above Buckhead Shelter. To get to the connector just ride down the road until you see a green forest service gate on your left…it’s a bit set back from the road you will be on so don’t miss it. Ride past the gate and up Road 130 for 1.9 miles until you reach the connector trail. It can be a bit tricky to see so don’t miss it. Climb another 1.9 miles until you reach Road 683 and turn left which will bring you back to the Alpine Trail. Most of this trail is considered to be intermediate except the Cloverpatch section which is rated advanced." - Oakridge Bike Shop

" This trailhead can either be reached by bike or car. Oregon Adventures runs a shuttle from May to October (start up and shut down dates are contingent…please call Oregon Adventures to verify) to the start point (Kate’s Cut In) which leaves you with a 15.4 mile blissful ride, most of which is downhill. The trail itself is considered intermediate but if you want to increase the aerobic aspect (or you just don’t want to shuttle) you can ride up from the Office Covered Bridge. From the bridge take the Aufderheide Scenic Byway to either forest service road 1910 to Windy Pass (7.9 miles) or 1912 (9.8 miles) all the way to Kate’s Cut In. If you take the 1910 to Windy Pass you will then need to locate the 1912 and continue heading up on that the remaining 3.1 miles. Be aware the 1912 is steeper than the 1910 and many people choose the longer road because of this.

The 15.4 mile ride from Kate’s does include a few short sections of singletrack climbing. Right from the start you climb a gentle grade up to Sourgrass Meadow then it’s downhill until you cross over the 1912. Another set of climbs brings you to the fabled Jedi Section. Once you reach the bottom and cross the road it’s a short pedal until you cross over the 1911 and begin another climb for around a mile. Past the viewpoint there are a few short hills to climb but the majority of the ride is downhill so check your brakes and make sure your pads have some substance to them.

If you’ve never ridden Alpine you might be surprised to learn there are a few variations to the trail you can do if 15.4 miles isn’t enough for you." - Oakridge Bike Shop

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Where to camp while in Oakridge? Black Canyon Campgrounds is the perfect jump off spot for shredding in Oakridge. Fall asleep to the sounds of the Willamette and trail access can be ridden to from your tent.

Where to eat? Cedar Creek Meats and Provisions is located on the Willamette Highway just a stones throw away from camp and has always been our go to spot. Breakfast burritos? Brisket burritos? Yes, please. Take one to go you'll want it on the trail.

Bike broken? Definitely make sure to head over to the Oakridge Bike Shop. Show your support. Buy a trail map and whatever else you may need for the trail. Most of not everyone in the shop plays a huge role in the trail system your about to ride.

Need a shuttle or a guide? Oregon Adventures has you covered. Hell they even offer a 17k day!

So thats about it. The ATCA is an amazing trail system. It's a big day. Be prepared. Hope this article helped. Leave a comment below if you have any questions or want some recommendations for other trails in or around Oakridge.

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Mountain Biking and Bushwhacking Gales Creek

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Winter is just around the corner and the Pacific Northwest has been getting hammered with rain. Many of our weekends have been spent on the road bikes, looking at the weather and praying for a day to hit the trails. Just when it starts to get you down a window opens and your sitting in the back seat on your way to the trails. I am staring out the window. My eyes fixate on the clouds above. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been on the Mountain bike. The separation is sobering. I know next to nothing about where we are headed. It’s better that way.

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We’re in the Tillamook Forest at the Gale Creek trail head. It’s really cold out and we’re all trying to figure out how much gear to wear. The creek is a river and the it rose during the storm is incredible. From here things just kept getting more interesting.

We make our way to the trail head. The dirt is good and I am tripping out on how fucking beautiful the forest is. Trees are down on the trail. One after another; yet we push forward. There are some runners off in the distance. We’re not alone. As they pull into focus we learn that they ran into a avalanche up ahead and turned around. The trail is gone and theres no way around it. Still, we pedal forward determined to see this wash out ourselves.

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The creek is a river and we need to cross it. It’s cold out and no one wants to get there feet wet. I am indifferent and accept my wet fate. Michael on the other hand…. was determined to keep his feet dry. Soon after we find ourselves confronted with the washed out trail. Theres only one way around it and that way is up. This is the part of the ride where mountain biking turns into bushwhacking. Every mountain bike ride should be this awesome!

The bushwhack worked and we’re back on the trail. The rest of the ride was made up of incredible single track with dozens of water crossings. Too many to count. Jeff led the effort in clearing the trail with a packable saw and together we took care most of the down trees. I learned an important lesson on being a good trail steward and definitely have plans to start carrying a hand saw on future rides.

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You can download information and the trail map to Gales Creek here : http://tillamookforestcenter.org/resources/Gales_Creek_Trail.pdf

Oregon Outback : Klamath Falls to Silverlake

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I wake up to the sound of Dave’s alarm; my sleepy limbs are draped over the hotel floor and the distant sound of rain slowly fills the room. Dave’s already packing and I know it’s time to get up.

We warm up our legs in route to the Mavericks Hotel, the start of the Oregon Outback in Klamath Falls Oregon. We are greeted by a parking lot full of riders ready to take on the infamous 369 mile route created by Velo Dirt. It’s 7am and the group rolls out. Bikes are everywhere. It’s fucking chaos. The first 8 miles of the OC&E Woodsline State Trail is paved and here riders scramble to find their friends and get into position.

The pavement quickly gives way to the rugged rail bed that once carried timber and cattle through the Pacific NorthWest. It feels real now. We’re on the Outback. This is the fucking Oregon Outback. Our group of three forms into a group of seven; Dave, Don, John, Calvin, Bryan, Brad and myself. We’re a goofy bunch from Portland, Berkeley, Los Angeles and New York. I know Don; Don knows Dave, John, Calvin and Bryan. Calvin knows Brad and so on and so on. We’re an eclectic bunch and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of dudes to ride with.

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The gravel dances beneath our tires as we make our way through the vibrant green. We eventually catch up with the clouds as we make our way through Switchback Hill. With our rain jackets on we navigate our way through the muddy switchbacks in route to Sprague River.

We spit out onto the road and grab lunch at the Running Bear Deli. The place is packed with BikePackers. The line is out the door and my mouth is watering. Pulled Pork Sandwich or Burrito? I went with the locally smoked ham sandwich. Winning. After filling our bellies and our bottles we head back on the road. The trail follows the Sprague River and I recall this particular stretch being pretty muddy from the rain . At some point Dave hit the deck and I narrowly missed running over him. We had a good laugh and took a detour in Beaty to load up on Water and most likely some form of Junk Food.

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Back on the trail we pedal along Five Mile Creek in the Fremont National Forest; which is just fucking beautiful. I recall moments where the woods opened up and the creek twisted through a lush landscape of green. It was so cinematic. The long day on the saddle was taking a toll on me. My body was longing for food and I set my eyes on our 7pm reservation at the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Dave had legs and set off to make sure we could eat our 30oz Top Sirloin Steaks.

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The sun is setting fast and we realize we’ve missed the turn to the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Was Dave there waiting for us or did he miss it too? We take a moment to figure out our options. Do we ride back and look for the turn off? Do we push forward and hope Dave meets us at camp? My energy levels are at an all time low and we decide to push forward.

Dave is shivering in the Silverlake general store. The sun is nearly down and the temperature is quickly dropping. We all missed the turn for the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Bummed but it’ s a huge relief that we’re all back together again. Cold hot dogs and frozen burritos kinda taste good after a 120 mile day anyways.

Mount St Helens : Ape Canyon, Plains of Abraham, Smith Creek

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Mount St. Helens is an active Stratovolcano located in the Cascade Range just 50 miles northeast of Portland. In 1980 the volcano erupted devastating the region and drastically changing the landscape of the mountain. Fast forward to present day; hikers and bikers have been granted access to it's beautiful trail system. [portfolio_slideshow id=4265 width="1200px"]

We’re currently dealing with extremely high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest so we set out early hoping to avoid the afternoon heat. With the sun already beating down on our necks we bombed the paved road from the parking lot to the trail head of Ape Canyon. The trail slowly climbs through an old growth forest of Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock. There is the occasional kick of the gradient but for the most part your making your way through a labyrinth of switchbacks and twisty climbs.

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Our legs are warmed up as we enter the Plains of Abraham which is an iconic stretch of trail with the resemblance of a moonscape. The ground is littered with Pumice and there are occasional sections where I had to hike and bike. The trail briefly flattens out offering incredible views of Mt St Helens. Its here that we paused to reflect on how nice the weather was. We were expecting temperatures in the high 90s but there was an amazing breeze sweeping through the ridge lines cooling the summer air. From here the trail hugged the mountain walls, twisting and climbing until we reached the epic view of the volcanic damage. The view is breathtaking and I feel fortunate to be here.

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I pedal out ahead traversing the spine of the mountain in hopes of capturing a picture of the crew. I love riding with friends but there is something to be said about being alone on the trail. After snapping the photograph I catch up with the guys. We have lunch at a lookout, it’s hot now and that once cool breeze is long gone. From here we jump on a paved road and climb to the Smith Creek Trail head. The trail is steep and loose with pumice. I am chasing dust left behind the crew and I struggle to keep up. The trail is overgrown and at times it’s hard to see where the tires are going. We fight our way through the overgrowth but not without taking a branch to the face. Reaching the river bed we’re disappointed to find the water is static and dirty. The glacial water is freezing and regardless it feels damn good crossing it. After a punchy climb the trail opens up to a flowy section following the river. The section is short and drops us off at the foot our climb back to the car. Once a fire road is now a 4 mile tree covered climb from Smith Creek to Apes Canyon. It’s one of those climbs that just keeps going and going and going. Eventually the trail opens up and spits us onto the road.The summer heat is reflecting off the pavement and we find relief at a small glacial stream just off the road. The water is freezing but too good to pass up.

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River View Natural Area

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Portland Oregon is an amazing city for cycling. It’s been awarded the prestigious Platinum Level Status from the The League of American Cyclists and it’s vast network of commuter routes is incredible. Yet Portland has severely underserved and blatantly ignored  a large community of citizens that love to ride Mountain Bikes. For a long time the River View Natural Area has been home to a small network of trails shared by both hikers and Mountain Bikers. Just five miles from Downtown Portland it’s the perfect place to get a quick ride in before or after work. Unfortunately the city recently decided to ban bicycles at River View leaving riders and myself no place to ride.

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Since I moved back to Portland just as the ban was put into place I decided to check it out and see what I’d be missing. First off the commute to the trails is great. I took the Spring Water Trail to the SellWood Bridge and rode up through the River View Cemetery. What an awesome way to get to some single track! After leaving the cemetery I made a left onto SW Palatine Hill Rd which quickly led me to the trail head. At the trail head I was greeted with freshly printed signs stating the new rules of the park. In fact the signs don’t even talk about cycling but they do state that it’s for foot traffic only. Bummer.

"River View is a formerly private 146-acre parcel jointly purchased in 2011 by the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau, the Bureau of Environmental Services, the Trust for Public Land, and Metro. The land was previously owned by River View Cemetery. While people have been riding bikes and hiking on the property for decades, that use was illegal but not often enforced. The City of Portland is now leading an effort to re-develop the land and make it a nature area and public park.” - Bikeportland.org

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From what I’ve explored there seems to be one trail that has some nice flow single track. Berms, Roots and all the good stuff to have a rad time just five miles away from home. I can neither confirm nor deny that I rode said single track. These pictures could have been taken way before the ban right? Anyways the rest of the trails are pretty mellow and make for great connectors to get back to the top. Everything seemed well maintained and the only visible trash was from negligent dog owners. In short I had a blast and look forward to coming back.

"The decision to prohibit mountain biking for now at River View was made in partnership with Commissioner Fish and the Bureau of Environmental Services, with due consideration of the reason for dedicating ratepayer dollars to purchase the site to protect water quality. We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed. I encourage you to participate in the upcoming City Budget process, to urge funding for the citywide Master Plan for cycling that Portland Parks and Recreation and I have proposed in our requested budget allocations."

-Amanda Fritz, City Commissioner

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After seeing the trails first hand it’s really hard to see how the city could justify the bicycle ban. Honestly it’s just a kick in the face to a group of people that just want to have a positive place to enjoy Mountain Biking. The ban was the last straw for a lot of riders. There comes to a point where it becomes moral to bend the rules. That time is now. I’ll never advocate for breaking the “law” but your life is yours and mine is mine.

I say roast them! ATMO!