Favorite mountain biking trails in Bend, Oregon 

Join our rider-at-large, Don Leet, for these summer favorites:

"I’ve been asked to write and describe some of my favorite mountain bike trails in Bend, Oregon.  A little background first: I love riding my mountain bike--the ups, the downs the technical, the flowing, and the challenging. But what I really love is the mountain in mountain bikes. I love the views and the scenery more than anything. And  I don’t like to shuttle. I’m not morally against it, I just rather be on my bike than in a van, so most of my rides will include long climbs, views and thrilling descents." --Don


south side, crescent mountain (8 miles)

GPS Link

Here is number one:  South Side of Crescent Mountain. It’s west of Santiam Pass in an area called the Old Cascade Crest. That’s because it was the crest before these youngish volcanoes popped up. Go over Santiam Pass, take a left at the Santiam Y and then go straight at the Clear Lake Cutoff  towards Sweet Home and Corvallis. Take a right at  Lava Lake Sno-park about half a mile after the intersection. Stay on the one-lane paved road past the Sno-park (Road 2067) for about a mile. Follow signs to the trailhead up the gravel road (508). Trailhead is up about half a mile. 

There are many variations of this ride. My GPS here shows the shortest: 4 miles up and 4 miles down. It not quite a 2-hour ride if you go my pace. There are lots of hike-a-bike ups in a beautiful setting, and swoopy downhills with sidehills, switchbacks and fun. Not many rocks, and nothing really technical unless you go too fast. 

Another variation would be go down the north side and then return up and back down. This would be twice as long. The north side is a bit more technical but not over the top.

A third  variation would be to add some of the other Old Cascade trails. 

This ride is not for the faint of heart, but for someone who likes to climb and feels, like I do, that if you don’t hike-a-bike you are not on a real ride. 


Side note. I am a little hesitant to put this ride out there as it is very pristine. Please treat the trail gently.


Swampy,north and south forks (22 miles)

GPS link

In Bend, with so many miles of individual trails, it is difficult to come up with a route that includes the best trails, is the right distance, and is not too crowded. I came up with this route a few years ago when Skyliner Road was closed for construction. It includes my two favorite climbs, and two of my favorite descents. It’s about three hours of riding time for me and if you time it right (weekdays or early mornings) it's not too crowded.

Park at Swampy Lakes, 16 miles from Bend on Century Drive. Take the Swampy Lake trail out of the parking lot, go past Flagline trail, and turn left onto South Fork (2.3 miles). Descend to Tumalo Falls. You will pass the Tumalo Creek trail at the bottom of the descent. At Tumalo Falls stop and enjoy the view and then climb up the North Fork Trail. I heard some riders comment that they were unsure which trail was the North Fork and which trail is the South Fork. I wanted to tell them the North Fork is north of the South Fork.
At Tumalo Falls you will be at mile 6. Climb 4 miles to Happy Valley and turn right onto the Metolius Windigo trail. Continue for a little over 1 mile and you will hit the 370 road. Look to the right and you will see the beginning of the Mrazek trail. Go on this trail for 1 1/2 miles and you will come to another junction. Mrazek continues left but our trail goes right. This is the Farewell trail. The map calls it blue but it is a tricky blue. Be careful and control your speed and you will be fine. There are 5 switchbacks at the bottom which are a good test of one’s skills.

Now you are back at Tumalo Falls. There are a few options here but I usually climb back up South Fork to the car. On this  section you might see some descenders. Many shuttle this downhill so keep your eyes and ears open. Common etiquette is for the downhill rider to give way, but I usually move first so they can enjoy their descent and I get to rest.

This is about a 22 mile ride, a little less than 3000 ft of climbing--A good hard ride but not impossible.




One of the tricks of riding in Bend, or really any area with an extensive trail system, is to link the different trails together to maximize the fun factor. Mountain biking should be fun--at least for me that is the main goal. In the Wanoga area near Bend, there are three big downhill trails--Funner, Tiddlywinks, and Tyler's Traverse. What many people do is shuttle to the Wanoga Sno-Park and then ride each of these trails. I'm not really into shuttling--I don't like waiting around, I like riding by myself,and I actually enjoy riding uphill. This loop I do has two out of the three downhills--Funner and Tyler's, and I ride up Tiddlywinks. It's a big ride--over three hours, but well worth it. My guess is if you shuttled the two downhills you would spend about the same amount of time.

I start and finish at the the bottom of Tyler's. The uphill of Tyler's is a dedicated uphill-only trail, and it takes about an hour to get to the top. This is the toughest climb so it is good to get it out of the way first. Once you are at the top, take the 10-minute Kiwa trail over to Tiddlywinks. Then continue to the Wanoga  Sno-park and descend Funner. Funner is a great trail, much of it is downhill-dedicated, but a warning: there is one mandatory drop. I'm not much of a jumper, so I roll over this drop. I can only say it looks worse than it is.

At the bottom of Funner, I head back up Tiddlywinks to the same Kiwa trail used earlier, and back over to the top of Tyler's. It's now basically downhill to the car. There are a couple of rock gardens to contend with and a couple of steep climbs, but once the main descent starts it is a great flow-style trail that is fun for riders of  many skill-levels. There will be a smile on your face when you arrive back at your car.

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