We’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the Pacific Northwest riding some amazing terrain all year. Many of the trails we rode are long-time favorites but here are the best dirt ribbons that laid fresh tracks on our hearts in 2016.
They’ve only built 10 of the planned 50 miles at Klamath Falls’ Spence Mountain system but already it’s one of the most well-designed rowdy flow trails we’ve ridden. Spence is on a spectacular plot of private land on the shores Upper Klamath Lake with unique natural topography and stunning views of Mount Shasta and Mount Mazama. Keep your eyes on this one, it’ll become its own front country destination in no time. Check out the full Spence trail plan.
Technically this trail wasn’t new to us in 2017. We’ve ridden the IMBA Epic loop before and frankly weren’t impressed. The over 4,000′ of elevation gain provides some amazing views of the Oregon Cascades but much of the descent was strangled by tight, unrideable switchbacks designed for foot traffic, not modern mountain bikes. All of that changed this summer with a concerted effort from the Willamette National Forest and local trail groups as they blasted (yes, dynamite!) out the rock face to create a finger-cramping yet still technically challenging backcountry descent finally worthy of its Epic status. Learn more about the O’leary Trail.
British Columbia is an undisputed mecca for mountain biking. The legendary North Shore, Whistler, and the ever-expanding trail systems along the Sea-to-Sky highway near Squamish and Pemberton. Because of this lens, nobody pays attention to Vancouver Island which is home some equally fantastic riding year-around. Even on the island most focus is on the Cumberland system, so we were surprised to find the steep rocky drops threading twisted Arbutus groves on Maple Mountain and Tzouhalem almost uninhabited. Both of the neighboring mountains are extremely easy to access, boast a dense network of varying skill levels, and provide several good loop options. Learn more about riding Maple Mountain and Tzouhalem.
Oh what a surreal experience it was spending hours in the rain pushing and lifting our loaded bikes up and over the melting ice pack on the Chilcotin’s Deer Pass to be rewarded with a view of seemingly endless snowy peaks into the distance. When the wind chill finally mandated we stop ogling the scenery and get off the exposed ridgeline we had no idea what a splendid, sustained ripping descent we had in front of us. Steep, narrow, fast, primitive, and completely choked with wildflowers and wispy clouds. It takes a pretty concerted expedition to get into Deer Pass, but trust us: it’ll be the highlight of your season. Check out Deer Pass on Trailforks.
Yeah, okay, we’re a little biased. There is a reason we live in Oregon and what the Oregon Timber Trail represents is a perfect representation of that: backcountry exploration and diverse landscapes. The trail is no small feat at 650 miles but can easily be broken up into Tiers or even smaller section loops depending on your schedule. It starts where few have ridden in Southeastern Oregon along Winter Rim and traverses the entire state northward criss-crossing the Cascade Range. Have we ridden the whole Oregon Timber Trail yet? No. But we’ve spent more time thinking about it, mapping it, and scouting it than anything else this year. And we’re riding the whole damn thing in 2017. If you’re up for a challenge we hope you’ll join us. Find out more about the Oregon Timber Trail.
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