Scar Mountain

There are highlights, and there are troubled times on this ride. The top of Scar Mountain is one of the better times.

There are highlights, and there are troubled times on this ride. The top of Scar Mountain is one of the former.

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

Ride Format: Probably best as a kind of figure-8..

Trail Style: Backcountry rustic

Giggle Rating: **

Riding :***

Scenery :***

Flow:*

Adventure: ****

Technicality: Moderate

Difficulty: Advanced.

Ideal Bike: Trail Bike

Beta Spewage

Overview: After spying this line on a map TDM fantasized about this trail for almost a full year, dreaming that the topo lines he traced with his finger were true, and that this trail was bound to be a perfect little adventure, complete with rustic tread, high meadows, big trees, grand views, and two long descents worthy of endless spewing. What he found closely resembles the above hopes…separated by sections of rhythmless gnar and difficult to enjoy hike-a-bike climbs. To summarize this summary, if you live in Oregon and are sick of the usual rides, you might get a kick of doing this trail once, just so you can say you have. Expect some hiking, a lot of downed trees, great views, and a few moments of some great trail that leave you wishing we could re-route the remainder…it could be a classic someday, but don’t hold your breath. (Update: The USFS and members of several trail advocacy group are working on this and other sections of trails in the Old Cascades trail network, and it now appears that this trail will get the tender care it deserves.  It may take a couple of years, but as of the fall of 2016 things are looking up!)

A portion of the goods on West Ridge of Scar Mtn.

The Gunnar laying down on the job in a favorite portion of the goods on West Ridge of Scar Mtn.

Pros: Some good views, sections of enjoyable backcountry-style riding, a great looking line on a map, the gravel roads are actually pretty fun…as logging roads go. The Trapper butte  descent is worthy of your attention.

Cons: Poor trail maintenance (soon a thing of the past?), steep grades, and it takes a bit of road time to make this route more enjoyable.

...The turnaround...maybe? Hint; both forks are fun, but have their issues.

…The turnaround…maybe? Hint; both forks are fun, but have their issues.

Need to Know: Bring a map, a sense of humor, and some strong legs. There are much better rides in the area…including the Pyramids Epic Loop, which finishes on this section.

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

Recommended Route Options

  1. The Highlights; about XX miles and CCCC feet verticle (2-4hrs).  This is the route I would recommend to most people…it involves more road time, but avoids the worst of the trail sections, while still delivering you to the summits. It’s more of an out and back/figure-8 combo than TDM would like, but for a curious rider it is still probably worth the effort. From HWY 22 about 6.5 miles north of Marion Forks, take, take Parish Lake Road (road 2266) about 5.5 miles to the Scar Mountain TH. Park here, then back to the east up the paved Parish Lake Rd road ( back-tracking your drive in) about 2 mi to a 4-way intersection with road 1164. Turn left (north) up the 1164 road and climb for about 2 miles to a split. Turn left onto Rd 1161 and continue uphill past a quarry at 1 mile (can find a trail-head here as well) and continue up logging road around the north side of the ridge (some descents here as well) to a split….
  2. The Full Package (about 25 mi, 5500ft elevation (2.5-5 hrs): This is my recommendation for the full out and back. Kind of burly, and expect to hike a few climbs. From the Scar Mtn TH (see above), head back to the east up the paved Parish Lake Rd road ( back-tracking your drive in) about 2 mi to a 4-way intersection with road 1164. Turn left (north) up the 1164 road and climb for about 2 miles to a split. Turn left onto Rd 1161 and continue uphill to a quarry at 1 mile. Find a road heading west from the quarry, which leads to the trail after about 50 yards. Turn Right onto the trail (uphill) and traverse this ridge through some cool forest, hiking at least one climb until you reach the top of Scar Mtn, which is marked by some small rock pillars. From here descend past a few steep switchbacks, then hike-a-bike back up another short climb. Another awkward descent leads to a trail junction. Turn left and enjoy the better riding on the west Ridge, descending gradually for about 2.5 miles to the junction of the 3387 (Donaca Lk.) and 4301 (Swamp Peak) trails. Turn around and climb back the way you’ve just come, staying left when you reach the junction where you joined this section of trail. Shortly after this junction you will reach a logging road; turn right and follow this down a hill for about .5 mi to road 1161, where you will turn right and ride the road about 2.7 mi back to the quarry. Head back to the TH, but turn left, briefly moving downhill, then climbing steeply to the top of Trappers Butte. Get a snack, enjoy the view, then rail the five miles to the car, hoping that the trail has been logged out this year. The finish is a good one!

Links, Maps & Media

Bureau of Land Management (and USFS)- “South Half Willamette Cascades”.  This map also has the other trails in the region, including the Santaim, McKenzie, and Oakridge areas, though the scale and detail are limited.

USFS Map- McKenzie Ranger District” ( not useful for this ride, but has better detail of parts of Crescent Mountain and other trails in the Region).

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