Although the end of summer brings shorter days, fall weather brings phenomenal trail conditions for mountain biking in Bend, Oregon. Dry, dusty trails have been hit with some rainfall and cooler temperatures, creating that “hero dirt” mountain bikers are looking for.
In Bend, we are incredibly fortunate to have access to hundreds of miles of singletrack just minutes from our doorsteps. The trails range from family-friendly greens snaking through Ponderosa forests to black diamond jump lines and everything in between. We even have a bike park up at Mt. Bachelor. In Bend, there is a trail for every rider. Probably a beer, too.
The Phil’s Trail and Wanoga Trail Complexes
With nearly 100 trails in the Phil’s Trail Complex, we’ll only touch on a few. Phil’s has something for every rider and every riding style. On the south side of the highway is the Wanoga Trail Complex. The area has 30 trails, and the riding is more advanced.
These are all multi-use trails, meaning you could encounter runners, hikers, and equestrians. Follow trail etiquette, which means yielding to other users. And be careful when descending. Some trails are directional, but others can be ridden in either direction.
It may be a small slice of the MTB pie, but these are some of the best mountain biking trails in Bend.
Beginner: Green Trails
When discussing mountain biking in Bend, it is hard not to mention perhaps the most well-known trail, Phil’s Trail. This beginner-level, or green, trail descends 684 feet over nearly 6 miles. If you ride Phil’s Trail, be sure to stop at the flaming chicken—you’ll know when you see it.
But, the Phil’s Complex has much more to offer. Linking the three Ticket to Ride trails together forms a nearly 6-mile loop. Rocky climbs, and long, fast descents push the green trail boundary. You can expect climbing and descending to be around 500 feet. Tackle this loop on any mountain bike and ride in either direction.
Phil’s and Ticket to Ride are both great options for kids. Ticket to Ride is especially ideal for kids who are ready for a bit rougher terrain.
Intermediate: Blue Trails
Upper and Lower Whoops in the Phil’s Complex are excellent trails to advance your riding to the intermediate level. Upper Whoops is fast and flowy. While the trail has nothing overtly technical, it has excellent corners, allowing for easily maintained speed. But be aware of uphill traffic. Some riders like climbing Upper Whoops rather than taking the fire road.
Lower Whoops, which is descending only, maintains the fast and flowy feel with the addition of more technical features. We’re talking jumps. The jumps aren’t mandatory, meaning they can be rolled or have a go-around. They aren’t small jumps, though. Ride carefully, even if rolling them. All of this culminates into a trail that is perfect for progression.
You can expect to climb and descend more than 1,100 feet if riding both trails and pedal about 8 miles—4 miles up, 4 miles down.
If you like Lower Whoops, Tiddlywinks is up your alley. Tiddleywinks sits in the Wanoga complex and takes Whoops to the next level with its length, tech, and speed. And jumps, lots of jumps.
Tiddlywinks offers riders a longer and faster ride through the forest. With its mix of rollable jumps, side options, and rock tech, it is an excellent trail for progressing as an all-around rider. Tiddlywinks is also a descending-only trail—no need to worry about riders coming up.
One of the most consequential features is an up-and-over rock roll about halfway down the trail. Look before you leap on this mandatory feature. Going over the bars isn’t out of the question, so don’t be too proud to walk.
Advanced: Black Trails
Looking for an advanced jump trail? Look no further than Wanoga’s Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf starts with a technical rock roll into a short, technical descent. Squeezing between rocks and a tree, Lone Wolf then sends you into a 5-6 foot drop. If you find this to be too challenging for you, Lone Wolf may not be your trail.
Jumps of all sorts continue down Lone Wolf’s 1.5 miles. Expect mandatory doubles, hips, and step-downs averaging 15 feet as you descend nearly 500 feet. Again, if you are not a confident jumper, Lone Wolf may not be the trail for you. Fortunately, Lone Wolf is a descending-only trail—no thinking about mountain bikers climbing.
If jumps aren’t your thing, but you are looking for an advanced trail, head back to the Phil’s Complex and check out South Fork. Getting there is a bit of a bear, but fantastic views await you on the climb. With more than 3 miles and nearly 1,000 feet descending, South Fork always provides miles of smiles.
South Fork is Bend’s option for fast, backcountry descents. The rough and rowdy track quickly gathers speed and incorporates roots, rocks, and natural corners. A modern, full-suspension trail or enduro bike is recommended. Although most riders descend South Fork, some do come up. Hikers, too, so be on the lookout.
Other Options to Ride
With hundreds of miles of trails, we are just scratching the surface. Remember that mountain biking in Bend, Oregon, doesn’t stop when the snow flies.
Cline Butte and the Maston Trail System, just north of Bend, are great winter riding options. Maston consists of cross-country green trails with a few blues mixed in. This system is perfect for the whole family. Cline, just across the street, takes it up a notch.
The trails descending the butte are advanced. The terrain is very rocky, steep, and technical—only recommended for more advanced riders.
On the south side of Bend, Horse Butte is another excellent option in winter. These trails are great for the whole family, but it is important to note that the loops are rather long here. Most are more than 20 miles, with the shortest being 10 miles. But, as the trails are multidirectional, you can always ride in a few miles, turn around, and ride out.
Food, Beer, Rentals, and Extras
Mountain biking in Bend is an excellent way to connect with others. Pine Mountain Sports has group rides on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. On the second and fourth Wednesdays, it’s ladies only.
If Wednesdays don’t work, check in with other bike shops—Bend has plenty. If you want to ride solo, plan your route ahead of time. Bend Trails is a comprehensive resource, and having an app like Trailforks downloaded on your phone never hurts. Ride safe!
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