Willamette National Forest

Bike Trails
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Castle Rock Road

Length of Ride: 9 miles one-way
Technical Difficulty: More
Physical Difficulty: Most
Surface: Gravel road/trail
Season: Year round

This ride is geared for bicyclists who want an aerobic climb and an outstanding view as a reward for reaching the top. To reach the summit, the rider must be prepared for a significant climb. The elevation gain is approximately 2,100 feet. Start the ride at Delta Old-Growth Grove parking area, located past Delta Campground on the north end of Road 19. Drive McKenzie Highway 126 to the turnoff to Cougar Reservoir, about 4.5 miles east of Blue River. The campground is well marked just past the bridge. From here, proceed south along Road 19 for approximately 0.5 mile. Where Road 19 forks; bear left and take Road 410. In another 0.5 mile take a left on King Road (Road 2639). Continue for one mile until you reach Road 480, O'Leary Road. O'Leary Road will take you the 5.8 miles to the Castle Rock trailhead. The trail is a short steep climb and it is recommended to hike this last section. Castle Rock was probably named because of its large, tall, cone shape that resembles a fortress or castle that overlooks much of the upper McKenzie Valley. Several Forest Service lookouts have occupied the mountain top since 1917.

The trail to the summit is 1 1/2 miles. The view from the summit is spectacular. The Three Sisters Wilderness in the east, the verdant upper McKenzie River Valley below, and the coastal range in the western sky enhances the breathtaking experience.

McKenzie River National Recreation Trail

Length of Ride: 15 miles one-way
Technical Difficulty: Moderate
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Surface: Single track trail
Season: Year round

The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is a classic single track and spectacular scenic trail that follows the upper McKenzie River. The trail was designed as an easy, slow pace recreational trail for all ages. The McKenzie Ranger District recently finished the McKenzie River Wild and Scenic River Plan and a decision to maintain the lower 15 miles for mountain bike use was determined.

This ride is perhaps one of the most beautiful trails in the Willamette National Forest. Because of this beauty it is a very popular trail. As mountain bike riders you must yield the right-of-way to hikers; slow down and use caution when approaching or overtaking others; and maintain control of your speed.

The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail terrain is relatively easy with numerous access points to begin or end the ride. The lower trailhead is located 50 miles east of Eugene/Springfield on Hwy. 126 approximately 1.5 miles past McKenzie Bridge. If you arc at the McKenzie Ranger Station this trailhead is one mile west of the station. Start your ride at this trailhead and begin the gentle uphill ride along one of the prettiest rivers in the Northwest. This trail follows along some impressive old-growth Douglas fir stands as well as younger forests with old-growth scattered along the trail. You will pass by some camping areas, hot springs, and great whitewater vistas. There are numerous log bridges that cross side creeks along the way. Most are too narrow to ride.

The section that is open for mountain biking ends near Trail Bridge Reservoir, where the trail meets Forest Road 2672-655. Above Trail Bridge it is hikers only.

Olallie Trail

Length of Ride: Several options - 9 miles (one-way), 27 miles (figure 8 loop)
Technical Difficulty: Difficult
Physical Difficulty: Difficult
Surface: Single track trail, paved road
Season: Dry months

The ride is probably best noted for its spectacular panoramic view of the expansive Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Olallie Mountain is named for the Chinook jargon term meaning berries or fruit (Williams 1988). Due to the high elevation of this trail it is not unusual to encounter patches of snow in the summer. The trail is very narrow with sensitive vegetation close to its borders. Savor the trail at a leisurely pace and keep a watchful eye out for hikers. Take care not to hurry and take time to enjoy the high-elevation environment.

To get to Olallie Trail, take Highway 126 to McKenzie Bridge (mile post 50). Just past McKenzie Bridge store and over the bridge, turn right onto Horse Creek Road. Take Horse Creek Road about 2 miles and turn right onto Road 1993 (Wapiti Road). Follow Road 1993 just under 3 miles to the lower trailhead. The next trailhead is approximately 6.5 miles up Road 1993. The recommended 18.3-mile loop forms a figure eight. Starting at the lower trailhead, ride up the road to the middle trailhead at Horsepasture Saddle. Get on the trail here and ride southeast to where the trail meets again with Road 1993. Once at Road 1993, which is 6 miles from Horsepasture Saddle, turn left, and follow the road approximately 11 miles back to the middle trailhead. From here descend the lower portion of the trail back to your car. This lower trail is steep and has some narrow and precipitous sections. A precaution: Be cautiously attentive because you won't want to fall.

The views of the Cascades and the Three Sisters Wilderness form Road 1993 are truly engaging. The road, however, demands attention to its tight curves, rock fall, and logging and recreational traffic. Whether you arc driving or riding this road, stay alert and stay on your side of the road.

Old Foley Road

Length of Ride: 10.6-mile loop
Technical Difficulty: Easy
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Surface: Gravel and paved road
Season: Year round

This loop ride has a variety of pedaling on all types of roads providing a good workout, great vistas, and examples of various forest silviculture stages. The name Foley was derived from a doctor who ran a resort and hot springs during the 1870's. Doctor Abram Foley was acquainted with the Indians who lived up near the head of the McKenzie River and told him about a spring of water that smoked. He went with them and "discovered" the Foley Springs. He owned Foley hot spring for about nine years (Williams 1988). These springs are now closed and trespassing is forbidden.

This ride is best initiated at the McKenzie Ranger Station. To start the ride, find the McKenzie Ranger Stations' wellness trail behind the bunkhouses and parking area on the east side.

This is an easy trail ride to remember directions because you always go right at the intersections. Continue on this trail for 0.7 mile until you reach Foley Rd. #2643. Take a right up Foley and the biggest gradient begins at one mile and subsides at 1.5 mile. This road stays at a good gradient until the intersection of Rd. #410. When you reach this intersection there is a sign that indicates Rainbow Falls, Separation Trailhead, and Foley Seed Orchard. Don't go up towards these areas but go right on the Rd. #410, which is a gravel road. At 5.2 miles you will see an old country road, which is Rd. #347. You will know this intersection because Rd. #410 is bermed up to stop motor vehicles from going farther. Take the right and go on the old country road for several miles. There are several spur roads on the left and right but don't get diverted onto these unless you are up for exploring some comes with vistas. At 6.9 miles the downhill ride begins where it flattens out just before the intersection of Horse Creek Road at 7.8 miles. Take a right at Horse Creek. Take another right onto Highway 126 and ride 1.5 miles to reach the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, which is one mile west of the Ranger Station.

Horse Creek Road

Length of Ride: 14 miles one-way
Technical Difficulty: Easy
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Surface: Gravel and paved road
Elevation Gain: 2,440 feet
Season: Year round

Horse Creek Road is an easy, relaxing road ride well-suited for the whole family. Horse Creek is an important tributary of the upper McKenzie River as it drains water from a good portion of the western Three Sisters Wilderness Area. George Frissel, an early settler on the McKenzie River, is the authority for the story that named the stream. In pioneer days some emigrants succeeded in getting a wagon over the summit of the Cascade Range near the head of Horse Creek and got their wagons down on the west slope a considerable distance. They tested their horses, and the stream was named on that account. Many years ago the remains of the wagon were found near the bank of the stream, which tends to substantiate the story. (McArthur, 1982, 373)

Horse Creek Road is located 0.1 mile east of McKenzie Bridge Store and across from Log Cabin Inn. Park at the old McKenzie Ranger District Work Center parking lot, 0.2 miles from the Highway 126 intersection.

The first 4.5 miles is up a gentle paved road. Keep a watchful eye out for vehicles! At 1.3 miles you will travel over a bridge that crosses Horse Creek. Soon after the bridge, Horse Creek Group Campground is on the east side of the road. The campground is a nice area to explore by bike if there are no campers who have reserved the campground. The road continues at a gentle but continuous grade uphill. At 4.5 miles the road turns to gravel and at 6 miles the road gets steeper and continues uphill for another 2.5 miles. At 9.2 miles, another intersection occurs for a steep logging road (Forest Rd. 356). Stay left and continue up Horse Creek for approximate 5 miles until it dead ends or you tire out. Now it's time to turn around for a fun ride back to your vehicle!


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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