Any McKenzie River trail veterans?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Any McKenzie River trail veterans?

    I've got family living in OR and I'm thinking of combining a riding trip with a visit this summer. I've long heard about the McKenzie river trail. Would like to learn more about it so I can ensure I am adequately prepared.

  2. #2
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    The best peice of advice your going to get is to ride it mid week. I personally prefer to end the ride at Paradise vs the true end. It's gorgeous and you're going to love it, don't let anybody convince you otherwise.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  3. #3
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    It's beautiful and unique. Everyone who has the opportunity to do so should ride it at least once. Definitely don't go on the weekend (crowds). Bring swim trunks and soak in the Belknap hot springs afterward.

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    I've heard a ton of different numbers in terms of how long it takes. Just under 26mi right. Subtracting sight-seeing, swims etc...how many hours of riding is it?

    Not so much worried about the physical aspect of it, just wondering if I can reasonably drive out there, ride it, and drive back to my family's place in the same day or if I could plan to spend the night out that way after.

  5. #5
    Nat
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    Hard to say. How fast are you?

    It's a point-to-point ride so will you have a shuttle or do you plan on looping it?

    It's been years since I've ridden the entire length but I think it took me around four hours. Can't recall for sure though.

  6. #6
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    I'd say 5.5 hours for most mid pack riders is plenty of time.
    Bring your swim trunks and jump in the blue pool, it's almost as warm as Belknap anyway
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  7. #7
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    The MRT is a decent trail with some very nice scenery, especially around Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, the headwaters at the south end of Clear Lake, the view of Mt. Washington at the northeast end of Clear Lake, and Tamolitch Falls (aka the Blue Pool).

    It got voted in as "the best mountain biking trail in America" in 2008, which is... laughable. It's not the best mountain biking trail in Oregon, not even the best mountain biking trail with rivers and waterfalls in Oregon.

    It's also very crowded, especially the stretch downhill of Blue Pool to Trail Bridge Reservoir. Best to ride on a weekday or a day after a rain or when it's threatening to rain. The trail doesn't get muddy but you can get soaked.

    IMO the most fun sections of trail are the technical roots and lava that show up in sections between the headwaters and the reservoir parking lot. Below that it can get kind of monotonous, with a lot of sections you have to pedal hard for speed and it feels a little bit uphill even when it should be downhill.

    Horse Creek Lodge does regular shuttles. They're also big supporters of trail building projects in the area.

    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Bring your swim trunks and jump in the blue pool, it's almost as warm as Belknap anyway
    Please don't huck into the blue pool... people die doing that.

  8. #8
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    I've been riding MRT for over 30 years and can vouch for the solid rep it's earned as an excellent taste of Oregon as far as mountain bike singletrack goes. Suggestions to ride it mid-week are right on because the section between Trailbridge Reservoir and Tamolich Falls (aka Blue Pool) receives heavy -- and I mean HEAVY -- hiker traffic on nice weekends. This section is only a couple miles long but it can be a day ruiner if you're off the bike every 100 yards yielding to hikers. This is exacerbated by the fact that this section of the trail includes the Lava Zone -- full of tech challenges that force a slow and intentional pace. Blue Pool itself is one of the most scenic spots along the trail and this is saying a lot. There are many amazingly scenic spots along MRT's length.

    Here's a Relive track showing the route from the upper TH (just above Clear Lake) to Paradise Campground, just a couple miles from the lower TH (we stopped at Paradise because we were camped there).
    https://www.relive.cc/view/g13236301346
    Stats are shown at the end of the vid:
    Distance: 23.4 mi
    Ride time: 3.75 hrs
    Gain: 700'
    Avg spd: 6.2 mph

    It can be done faster but if you ride it fast, you'll ask yourself why in the world you hurried through such a scenic trail once you're done.

    If you've got time and want more (a lot more), check out the Olallie/O'Leary Loop in the same area. To do the O/O Loop, park at the King-Castle TH on King Rd just a few miles west of MRT's lower TH. Here's a Relive track of O/O:
    https://www.relive.cc/view/g12688635397

    As you can see, there's a lot going on here.
    Distance: 25.8 mi
    Ride time: 4.5 hrs
    Gain: 5600'
    Avg spd: 5.6 mph

    This is a massive ride. O/O includes raw and rugged terrain as much like riding through Wilderness as it gets in Oregon (as does Bunchgrass Trail east of Oakridge, OR). O/O ends with a frolic down lower King-Castle Trail which is as sweet as it gets -- very roller-coastery. I've never had enough gas in the tank to climb to the top of Castle Rock near the end of the O/O Loop but if you do, go for it. The view from the top is awesome.

    There's a bike shop in Rainbow across from the Blue Sky Market & Takoda's Restaurant. If you choose to go for O/O, personally I recommend you buy a map &/or consider recruiting a local guide.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbmaddux View Post

    IMO the most fun sections of trail are the technical roots and lava that show up in sections between the headwaters and the reservoir parking lot. Below that it can get kind of monotonous, with a lot of sections you have to pedal hard for speed and it feels a little bit uphill even when it should be downhill.

    Horse Creek Lodge does regular shuttles. They're also big supporters of trail building projects in the area.



    Please don't huck into the blue pool... people die doing that.
    I had a blast riding most of the MRT but agree that it can get monotonous/repetitive at the bottom. To be honest, I was ready for it to end at about mile 20. Highly recommend the soak in the Belknap Hot Springs already mentioned.

    We saw a guy jump into the Blue Pool from only about 1/2 way up, landed wrong and separated his shoulder. Not sure how he ever got out because he didn't have the strength to climb out of the pool after that. Luckily, he had several friends with him.
    Carpe Diem!!

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    I saw the Vini Caldirola jump into the Blue Pool from about 60' up. The place went wild, he could have had his choice of women that day. It was a day I will never forget, one of my good friends missed out, unfortunately, because his dropper post broke and didn't make it on the ride.

  11. #11
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    Caldirola is legend but I have it on good authority the guy with the busted dropper showed him where to jump from and that's more like 37-42 feet off the water. One time busted seat post guy forgot his swim trunks and jumped in naked. When he came back up every single blue pool reveler had left on account of his nakedness.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbmaddux View Post
    The MRT is a decent trail with some very nice scenery, especially around Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, the headwaters at the south end of Clear Lake, the view of Mt. Washington at the northeast end of Clear Lake, and Tamolitch Falls (aka the Blue Pool).

    It got voted in as "the best mountain biking trail in America" in 2008, which is... laughable. It's not the best mountain biking trail in Oregon, not even the best mountain biking trail with rivers and waterfalls in Oregon.

    It's also very crowded, especially the stretch downhill of Blue Pool to Trail Bridge Reservoir. Best to ride on a weekday or a day after a rain or when it's threatening to rain. The trail doesn't get muddy but you can get soaked.

    IMO the most fun sections of trail are the technical roots and lava that show up in sections between the headwaters and the reservoir parking lot. Below that it can get kind of monotonous, with a lot of sections you have to pedal hard for speed and it feels a little bit uphill even when it should be downhill.

    Horse Creek Lodge does regular shuttles. They're also big supporters of trail building projects in the area.



    Please don't huck into the blue pool... people die doing that.
    Interesting......so the fam lives near Roseburg. Are there better options closer than MRT?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damn True View Post
    Interesting......so the fam lives near Roseburg. Are there better options closer than MRT?
    Yeah. The dread & terror and deer leap sections of the nut or tons of stuff in Oakridge like ATAC. The nut can be challenging to find a shuttle if it's just you.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  14. #14
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    I'm kind of the same opinion as tbmaddux. I'm glad I've ridden MRT a couple times, but it is not worth the 3 hour drive to get there.
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  15. #15
    Nat
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    I was impressed the first few times I rode it many years ago but I don't willingly go there any more. I had just moved here from Arizona so to see gigantic trees and lush ferns was amazing. It's a thing you do once to say you've been there, since it is the signature ride of Oregon.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Yeah. The dread & terror and deer leap sections of the nut or tons of stuff in Oakridge like ATAC. The nut can be challenging to find a shuttle if it's just you.
    ^^^THIS^^^ All of that advice is excellent. Dread & Terror might be my favorite single ride I've ever had....aside from seeing the 200+ lb naked female hippie at the fern weeping wall. You can't un-see that Deer Leap was fun as well. This is a hiking page but if these photos of the Dread & Terror section don't get you excite to ride it, nothing will. Richard Hikes: North Umpqua Trail - Dread and Terror Section

    ATAC is a BIG ride. Make sure you go with somebody that knows the way or you have it on Trailforks. The 1st time we went the signage was minimal and even the mercantile wasn't real helpful. It's better now and even though I don't think I'd get lost, I still wouldn't do it solo.
    Carpe Diem!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Yeah. The dread & terror and deer leap sections of the nut or tons of stuff in Oakridge like ATAC. The nut can be challenging to find a shuttle if it's just you.
    Cog Wild does NUT shuttles but I think they're guided tours or something.

    I'd also add Crawfish, Adams, and Brice Creek trails, outside of Cottage Grove along Row River Rd. North end of the Umpqua NF.

    From Roseburg it's not too far to Medford, Rogue River, Ashland as well. Probably better in June down there than it is up in Oakridge where it could still be a bit wet...

    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    ATAC is a BIG ride... I still wouldn't do it solo.
    You're never really on your own on Alpine. Even ATCA gets a lot of folks on it. I rode it last year and started after a full Oregon Adventures van, a full Cog Wild van, a full truck-load of self-shuttlers, and another full load of Cog Wild guides. It wasn't until I took off from the lunch spot at the start of the Tire descent that I finally got some "alone" time. I wasn't really alone, though, there was a whole crew somewhere behind me.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbmaddux View Post
    Cog Wild does NUT shuttles but I think they're guided tours or something.

    I'd also add Crawfish, Adams, and Brice Creek trails, outside of Cottage Grove along Row River Rd. North end of the Umpqua NF.

    From Roseburg it's not too far to Medford, Rogue River, Ashland as well. Probably better in June down there than it is up in Oakridge where it could still be a bit wet...



    You're never really on your own on Alpine. Even ATCA gets a lot of folks on it. I rode it last year and started after a full Oregon Adventures van, a full Cog Wild van, a full truck-load of self-shuttlers, and another full load of Cog Wild guides. It wasn't until I took off from the lunch spot at the start of the Tire descent that I finally got some "alone" time. I wasn't really alone, though, there was a whole crew somewhere behind me.
    We did the NUT tour with Cog Wild.

    I've ridden ATAC (3) times now and once we leave Alpine, we've never seen another rider.
    Carpe Diem!!

  19. #19
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    ATCA (Alpine-Tire-Cloverpatch-Alpine) is a good one. You might check with the Merc in Oakridge (Willamette Mountain Mercantile aka Oakridge bike shop, 541-782-1800) to see if the largest bridge on Tire Mtn Trail is still being replaced. Extraction of the old bridge and construction of the new one started in mid-February.
    tire mountain trail update | Disciples of Dirt
    If the Merc is out of the loop, you could contact the Oakridge Ranger Station, 541-782-2283 to check the status of the bridge, but personally Iíd start with the Merc because theyíll probably have the most up-to-the-minute beta on snow & trail conditions.

    Hereís another fun ride option a few locals call The Dirty Hotdog.
    https://www.relive.cc/view/g15499650552
    This one starts at the lower Tire Mtn TH, then traverses Cloverpatch Trail, up NF130 to the Cloverpatch Connector, up (yeah, up) Alpine to the Tire Mtn Jct, then ends with a fun descent down Tire Mtn Trail back to the vehicles. The climb up Alpine will probably leave you convinced youíre swimming against the current unless you ride this mid-week, off-season. Alpine Trail typically only sees traffic in the downhill direction.
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  20. #20
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    All of you are doing it wrong...MRT OAB SS.

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    Itís a nice way to spend a weekday. The sspd is nice and quiet too. Plus, riding the rocky sections both directions is fun. The whole 54 miles is ALL ST! I donít get bored surrounded by big trees, moving water and single track that is as much fun as I make it. We were just laughing about all the bashing the MRT gets. Oh, well...Itís not my favorite trail, but the season is not complete without one OAB. The sspd just makes it more fun.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan View Post
    All of you are doing it wrong...MRT OAB SS.
    Been there, done that.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppa#1 View Post
    We were just laughing about all the bashing the MRT gets. Oh, well...Itís not my favorite trail...
    Well, look: Bike Mag put out an article calling it the best mountain biking trail in America. Many people, including you, donít agree.

    Now just take that and add it to the arguing about trails that people love to do when theyíre not arguing about beer, bikes, cars, wheelsize, vinyl records, etc., and this is what you get.

  24. #24
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    Heís kidding! I may still prefer it, but heís just having fun.
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