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Bend, Oregon is a hot spot for mountain bikers in the American Northwest. There are hundreds of miles of well-kept mountain bike trails in various climate zones ranging from desert, alpine, and lush Douglas fir forests.
Most of the trails are composed of pumice soils from a lively volcanic history of the region. Most people associate Oregon with rainy weather, but Bend is mostly sunny and dry because it lies on the east side of the Cascade Mountain range. In fact, dusty trails are a nuisance at the end of the summer, making group rides a bit challenging.
The riding in Bend is good enough to be the home of several professional cyclists including Carl Decker, Ryan Trebon, Adam Craig, and Chris Horner.
Phil’s Trail system is one of the most popular trail networks in central Oregon with about 30 to 40 miles of smooth and rocky singletrack. The most accessible sections of the trail also tend to be the least challenging, which is perfect for beginners and building mountain bike fitness and skill.
There are countless ways to connect trails within Phil’s Trail system, which sometimes means using logging roads but at least it’s possible to keep things interesting. Trail intersections are marked, so don’t worry about getting lost, especially with the aide of a trail map. Check out the Whoops Trail within the network for lots of banked corners and whoop-dee-doos. Phil’s trailhead is just about 4 miles west of town on Skyliners Road.
Another essential ride to do in Bend is the Mrazek trail up to the Flagline trail. The Mrazek trail climbs up to the Tumalo Falls trail where it meets the North Fork and South Fork trails. The North Fork is an uphill only trail. One of the coolest features of the ride are six or seven pristine waterfalls that you get to ride by on your way to Flagline. Once at the top you get a great view of Broken Top, an extinct volcano that has been shaped more into a cirque, and the Three Sisters mountains, which are some of Oregon’s highest peaks. The Mrazek-Flagline route is about 30 miles.
If you go: Bend, Oregon
- Must-do trails: Phil’s Trail network, Mrazek and Flagline trails, and the McKenzie River Trail.
- Best bike shop: Bend Bike n Sport, 345 SW Century Drive, two miles from Phil’s trailhead.
- Best map: Tread Maps produces a map of the Bend and Sunriver area withprofiles and descriptions of 36 trails totaling about 215 miles of riding.
- Best coffee: Strictly Organic Coffee Bar
450 SW Powerhouse Drive; everything is organic and eco-friendly.
- Trail service: Trails in and around Bend are built and maintained mostly by the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service.
- Riding season: You can ride from February to December but the mountain bike season is typically between April and October.
- Getting there: You can fly directly to Bend via Redmond Airport. Or you can fly to Portland for half the price and do the picturesque drive along the Mount Hood Highway and explore some of the hot springs and trails along the way.
- Lodging: There is no shortage of camping as national forest is all around Bend. There are plenty of cheap hotels on the east side of town and quaint bed and breakfasts downtown that are dirt cheap.
- Insider tips: It can be a bit rainy in the spring, but it stays dry later in the season. The trails are pretty well covered with a layer of moon dust by mid July. The riding is flatter than you might expect, which means you have to pedal. So leave the downhill rig at home and bring a fast cross country bike.
- Web sites: Oregon Mountain Biking, Central Oregon Trail Alliance, and Treadmaps.