Oakridge is a mountain biker’s delight

Oakridge is a mountain biker’s delight

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A view of the Cascades from
Bunchgrass Ridge Trail.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just back from a long weekend in Oakridge, Oregon — “the mountain biking capital of the Northwest”. Over five years ago I proclaimed (jokingly) that I wanted to move there and now I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to return.

Oakridge is a small and quiet former logging town situated between rivers and mountains about 40 miles east of Eugene. The timber industry once dominated, but today the local economy is all about outdoor recreation. In August 2010 even National Public Radio noticed Oakridge and devoted a special report to the town that is trying to “reinvent itself.”

One could argue that mountain biking is Oakridge’s biggest attraction. The town is surrounded by hundreds of miles of trails and boasts some of the best riding you’ll find anywhere. And it didn’t just happen by accident. The story of Oakridge is a meld between economic necessity and a network of dedicated advocates.

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The sign outside the local bike shop, Willamette Mountain Mercantile.

This past weekend I sampled just a tiny portion of the fantastic riding and I’m scheming on how to get back there before the dry season ends. There are many more trails to ride and stories to be told. Later this month is the Fat 55 race and festivities. If you needed an excuse to discover Oakridge, I can’t think of a better one.

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