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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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Waldo Lake Loop Trail

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It’s Sunday morning and we’re hungover at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile in Oakridge. Our goal is to find a new trail to explore before heading back to Portland. Last nights Margaritas and IPAs have done some serious damage. Our crew is beat. With some help from the locals we decide on the 21.2 miles IMBA epic at Waldo Lake. [portfolio_slideshow id=4529 width=1200]

Waldo Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon and one of the purest in the world. The alpine lake is located in the Cascade Mountains 18 miles from Oakridge. The water is incredibly clear and it is said that on some days you can see to depth of 120 feet.

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Theres talk of mosquitos. Apparently they can be pretty bad up there. Our heads clouded with the previous nights bad decisions. Damn. I am so fucking hung over. Life slowly comes back to the legs as we descend into the loamy forest ripe from a previous rain.

"The elevation gain of the overall ride is manageable, however the relentless short, steep climbs and technical sections will give you a quite a workout. There are incredible views of the lake throughout the ride and plenty of spots to cool off during the hot summer months. Pick up the Waldo Lake Trail from the main parking area at the northeast corner of the lake and complete the loop either clockwise or counter-clockwise.” - MTB Project

Larch Mountain 2.0

Larch Mountain is an extinct volcano roughly 25 miles from downtown Portland topping out at over 4000ft of elevation. The name Larch Mountain does not come from the Western Larch tree but rather how early loggers would describe Noble Fir. The mountain has been heavily logged in certain sections and is now a mixture of second and old growth forests. It’s become an iconic climb for cyclists due to it’s infamous 14 mile climb to the summit. Most climbs around Portland are rolling while Larch goes straight up for over 12 miles. [portfolio_slideshow id=4448 width="1200"]

After some last minute planning Craig and I set off from the Velo Cult parking lot at 7 am. The streets of Northeast Portland are empty and we gladly take the road. Riding out to Troutdale is probably my least favorite thing to do but with good company it aint half bad.

We cross the Sandy River and head up the Historic Columbia River Highway aka U.S. Route 30 aka the King of Roads aka HRCH. The hangover is fading and the weather is perfect. It’s a little after 9am and we pedal up to the Portland Woman’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. I take some obligatory photos of the Columbia River Gorge. The view is epic! I’ve taken dozens of photos from the exact spot yet I still feel compelled to snap a few more. It’s our last chance to fill up on water before making the 14 mile ascent up Larch Mountain. Its Craigs first time up. I am looking forward to the summit. I brought a slice of pizza to celebrate at the top; like a boss!

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Larch Mountain Road is quiet. The occasional cyclists zooms by; teary eyed from the long ascent. We’re all out here early trying to beat the 90 degree heat. Some earlier than others. At mile marker 2 I tell Craig that it’s all up hill from here. The climb is infamous for it’s long 12 mile ascent and probably more so for the incredible descent back down! We’re surrounded by towering Noble Firs and my legs settle into a rhythm. The mile markers slowly go by as we crawl to the summit. I am feeling good and all of this Mountain Biking is really paying off. Mile 9, Mile 10, we’re getting close. The trees are getting shorter, the sky is bluer and Craig is bonking. I back off and we push forward. Cadence is everything.

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We summit. I drop five bucks into the Fee box and we hike up to the viewpoint called Sherrard Point. Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer, Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Jefferson. It’s all fucking there. I love this ride and this is why I celebrate it. Pizza has never tasted so damn good. Am I the first person to bike up Larch Mountain with a slice of pizza? Fuck yes I am.

The descent back down to U.S. Route 30 is incredible. The roads are still empty and we occasionally fly by someone climbing. This time we’re the ones teary eyed, focused on the road ahead. Craigs out in front and I can only imagine he’s smiling as much as I am.

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.

Wilder Ranch State Park

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[portfolio_slideshow id=3339 width=1200px] Wilder Ranch is a coastal preserve just a few miles from downtown Santa Cruz featuring dozens of trails and fire roads that are mostly legal for cycling. During my three months in Santa Cruz I found myself exploring Wilder in the early mornings every day before work. I fell in love with the sunrise, the thick coastal fog, the dew covered meadows and the grazing deer.

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Wilder became my morning sanctuary and I am grateful for all the time I got to spend there.

I can recall climbing up Old Cabin in the stillness of morning, Niterider on, headlamp on, ascending in the darkness, nothing but the sounds of breathe and tires rolling over soil. Eventually the thick forest giving way to a blooming sunrise, deers grazing to my left, dew covered spider webs blanketing the meadow floor. Life seems infinite during these momements.

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There are endless ways to get into Wilder but here are the ones that I come to love :

- Up Bay St and hop onto the Fire Road in UCSC. Check out the sunrise at the top and then climb up Star Wars. Take the Single Track to Pipeline. Follow Pipeline along Chinquapin to the Twin Gates.

- Up the Emma Mccrary Trail to U Con Trail. From the top of U Con take one of the many trails that link up with Pipeline. Roast Pipeline to Twin Gates. [su_divider top="no" divider_color="#DDFF99" margin="0"] [su_spacer size="10"] [su_quote cite="MBOSC" url="http://www.mbosc.org/local-parks/wilder-ranch/"]Wilder Ranch is home to some of Santa Cruz’s most iconic riding. On the coastal side of Highway one, trails wind along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. On the inland side of the highway, trails climb up rolling grasslands that overlook the ocean, and dip down into verdant redwood timbered drainages. Wilder offers a up miles of fire roads and singletrack. Some singletrack highlights include, Enchanted Loop, Twin Oaks, and Old Cabin.[/su_quote]

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Here is a breakdown of the trails I regularly rode in Wilder :

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Chinquapin Trail : This is where most people pedal into Wilder via UCSC / Twin Gates.

Enchanted Loop : The first time I rode down the Enchanted Loop I was on my Cyclocross bike. It was pretty radical to say the least. This is arguably the most gorgeous Single Track in Wilder and my personal favorite! Radical descent littered with roots and rocks followed by flowy Single Track and a extremely steep climb out.

Mailboxes : Arguably the most frequented illegal Single Track in Santa Cruz. First time down this I was on my Cyclocross bike and had to walk two steep rock gardens. Worth it for the river crossing at the end!

Fence Line : Another really popular section of Single Track that will take you down to the end of Mailboxes. Make a left at the bottom to navigate a gnarly rock garden and river crossing or head right to head back into Wilder.

Old Cabin : Yet another trail first explored on my Cyclocross bike. I love looping Enchanted and Old Cabin together. Highly recommended. After Old Cabin hop onto Wild Boar and smash down Engelsman to the Bike Path at the bottom.

Engelsman Loop : I love this trail. Perfect for the Cyclocross bike and my go to way to loop back into Santa Cruz.

Eucalyptus Loop : This is a Fire Road that will connect you with various Trail Heads. I tend to avoid this trail unless I am climbing back up Wilder to do some more loops.

Wilder Ridge Loop : This is a great way to climb up Wilder from Highway 1. It seems like a lot of group rides will meet at the bottom.

Baldwin Loop : This is probably the most unused trail in all of Wilder. When I rode it the fog was so thick I could only see 10 or so feet in front of me. The Woodcutters : A fire road that goes through Wilder via Chinquaphin Trail up to Smith Grade. Theres a lot of hidden single track in the surrounding area if you keep your eyes peeled.

Woodcutters : Fire Road at it’s best. Lots of Single Track out there if you keep your eyes open. Drops you off on Smith Grade.

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So if you ever find yourself in Santa Cruz, wake up before the sun, gear up and pedal towards Wilder. You won't regret it. I promise!