The Ride: Mountain biking on the Wilson River Trail

The Ride: Mountain biking on the Wilson River Trail

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-12

(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just off Highway 6 in the Tillamook State Forest about 45 miles west of Portland lies some of the region’s best singletrack. And I’m still wondering why it took me 11 years to finally discover it.

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-4

A forested wonderland with all the singletrack your legs can handle.

The Wilson River Trail is a gem. Just 45 miles west of Portland (under an hour by car), the trail winds, climbs, and drops along ridges and valleys in the heavily forested Coast Range. I rode it for the first time on Saturday not really knowing what to expect. It turned out to be equal parts fun and challenging. Mix in the absolutely stunning landscape and views and I think this trail should to be at the top of everyone’s list.

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-1

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-2

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-6

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-3

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Wilson River Trail MTB ride-8

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-9

Hardtails are fine for this trail. This is Scott Bradway’s Kona Kula 29r.
Wilson River Trail MTB ride-10

Even with recent rains, there was little to no mud.
Wilson River Trail MTB ride-14

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-11

Wilson River Trail MTB ride-13

Given how nice the trail is (even with all the rain we’ve been having), I would have expected to hear more about it among the mountain biking circles in Portland. But after tackling over 20 miles of it, I have a feeling why it might not be as popular as other places: the climbing.

On Saturday, our group parked at the Elk Creek Campground and road out to the parking lot at Jones Creek (both places are right off Highway 6) and back. In those 22 miles (11 each way), our total elevation gained was over 5,000+ feet and the ride took us about 3.5 hours. That’s a lot of climbing anyway you slice it, especially when you realize it’s all on singletrack.


Check out the route on RideWithGPS.

At the end of the day I was soggy, smiley, bloody, sore, muddy, and exhausted… all the things I’ve missed about mountain biking.

If you love rock-strewn creek crossings, smooth flowing singletrack, and the challenges and rewards of serious climbing — all in one of the most beautiful places in the state — I highly recommend doing this ride. (NOTE: Due to the climbing and relative difficulty of the trail, I do not recommend this to beginner/novice riders.)

Check out our route on Browse more posts like this.

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