Crescent Mountain

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Crescent Mountain hurts initially, but the rewards are a treat to TDM’s eyes.

Closest Towns:  Sweet Home(40 min) Bend, Eugene or Corvallis (1.3-1.5 hrs)

Ride Format: Loop or out and back.

Trail Style: Backcountry rustic

Giggle Rating: ***

Riding :***

Scenery :****

Flow:***

Adventure: ***

Technicality: Moderate

Physical Difficulty: Advanced.

Ideal Bike: Trail Bike…steep climbing capable.

When everything is visible, some pointing is bound to go down.

When everything is visible, some pointing is bound to go down.

Beta Spewage

Overview: The scouting of this line on a map leaves many questions unanswered. Most of these questions revolve around the rather high apparent climbing grades…are they doable, or are they hiking with a bike on your back? The answer lies somewhere in-between…it is all ridable, and rather fun for those inclined to enjoy steep sustained gains in elevation. The rewards of this effort are high, with pleasant meadows and some of the better views in the region (short of climbing one of the prominent volcanoes that dot the horizon). The only real downside is that trail maintenance on the north ridge has been a bit lacking in the past.  Recent partnerships between from the USFS,  COTA, SATA, and other interest groups is addressing that issue, so in the future this trail should dish up a steady diet of railable moments & good views without the dissuading interruptions that  downed trees and grabby rhododendrons can bring. To summarize this summary, any aspiring rider will need to work a bit to get to the top, but the raw tread, fun descents and amazing views are worth the effort. In TDM’s mind this short loop is horribly underutilized, and offers a kind of sampler experience for the real classics of the cascades backcountry scene: example O’Leary and the Pyramids Epic.

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It is probably no exaggeration to say that this is the worst part of the N Crescent Trail, but Tricky seems to be at peace with that.

Pros: A great summit, a seldom traveled descents, and good scenery throughout. Easily accessible from the main highways.  Only a few miles from the upper Mckenzie TH.

Cons: Poor trail maintenance on the backside( which may now be a thing of the past), steep grades, and it takes a bit of road time to complete the loop. Could always do it as an out and back or link to the S Pyramid Trail?

The upper meadow provides some vistas...Mary's Pk to Mt Hood. Here the sisters and Washington compare notes.

The upper meadow provides some delightful vistas…Mary’s Pk. to Mt Hood. Here the sisters and Mt. Washington compare notes.

Need to Know: Bring some legs… and a picnic basket for the top.   This trailhead is only about five miles from the top of the McKenzie Trail. There may be some logs down on the north ridge of Crescent Mtn, so keep that in mind as you go screaming through some of the fun sections along the upper ridge (TDM nearly ate one on his first trip).

Mr. sidekick crosses Park Creek all aglow after the ripping final descent of N Ridge.

One of the Wednesday night crowd all aglow after the ripping final descent of N Ridge.

Other Rides in the area: McKenzie Trail(****),Santiam Wagon Road(**), Scar Mountain(**),Gordon Meadow(***), South Pyramid Trail(***), Pyramids Epic Loop(****), O’Leary Mtn(****)

The North Ridge is a mostly pleasant climbing option as well, but descending this section is a profoundly rewarding experience, which can be made even better by following it up with the S Pyramid Trail.

The North Ridge is a mostly pleasant climbing option as well, but descending this section is a profoundly rewarding experience, which can be made even better by following it up with the S Pyramid Trail.

Recommended Route Options

  1. The Loop; about 19 miles and 3500 feet verticle (2-4hrs). To reach the TH from the junction of HWY 126 , take HWY 20 about 0.5 mi west to RD 2067and the Lava Lake Rest Area on the right. Drive through the rest area and proceed about 1 mi to road 508 on the left. Drive up this road about .7 mi to the marked TH and parking area (note that TDM typically parks at the rest area and rides from there). On the trail, ride down a bit, then uphill through forests, then through nice meadow to the top of the Mountain at an old lookout site. Backtrack a short distance, then turn right (north) to descend an awesome ridge. After a few miles you will come to a clearcut. Cross a road and pick up the trail slightly downhill, which then heads into an awesome last mile…soo good! Cross Park Creek, then briefly climb to a road. (shortcut…turn right and descend 1 mi to Rd560). Cross the road…there are two trailheads here…take the right hand one that heads to the east. This trail is more weathered, and much more technical, but will soon descend about 1.5 mi to The South Pyramid TH. Hit the 560 road, turn right, and generally descend for about 3 mi to road 2067, where you will turn right and contour your way along this paved road for about 5 mi to your starting point.
  2. Link with South Pyramid Trail, 20 miles and 4,300 ft of climbing (3-5 hrs):  This is a four-star ride, detailed on the S Pyramid Trail page of this site.  There is a logging road climb, but it allows an almost eight mile descent…yum.

Links, Maps & Media

Bureau of Land Management (and USFS)- “South Half Willamette Cascades” (also has the other trails in the area, though the scale and detail are limited).

USFS Map- McKenzie Ranger District ( Has about the first half of this ride in better detail).

Awesome Photo Essay by Patrick Means focusing on the Crescent and S Pyramid sections of this loop:  https://thetrailhouse.exposure.co/the-pyramids-of-oregon

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