Closest Towns: Sisters(40 min), Corvallis/Eugene/Salem(1.5hrs), Portland 2.3hrs)
Ride Format: Shuttles, loops , out and back.
Trail Style: Raw but perfectly built trail riding
Giggle Rating: ****
Riding : ***
Scenery: ****, depending on area
Technicality: Mostly Easy.
Physical Difficulty: Easy if shuttling, moderately daunting to absurd if loops
Ideal Bike: Trail or all mountain rig is perfect.
Wet Conditions: OK, but in the snow much of the year.
Overview: It is time to take a little plunge into the TDM obsessive zone. The South Pyramid Trail is technically a part of several rides already highlighted by Thedirtmagnet, but that will not stop us from discussing it individually as well, because this little segment of single-track is unusually lovable. The trail travels through the old-growth dominated west slope of the pass between the Three Pyramids and Crescent Peak, dropping away 2,000 feet and change to the Middle Santiam River at Shed Camp. Almost nobody uses this path, so there is a raw vibe to the tread, yet the trail is extremely well built, with more width than many of the Oakridge classics, but also an unusual number of shredable banks, bumps and berms along the way. While outright speed is not this trail’s calling, it’s sinuous course and playful nature are intoxicating. To add to the appeal, the whole shebang cruises through a rhododendron forest, complete with a classic old-cascades stream, some open bear-grass sections (TDM loves bear grass), and a few rocky spots. To summarize this summary, the S. Pyramid trail is highly shredable, but is better defined by it’s unique character, beauty, and a cool Scooby do vibe, all ending in a rad swimming hole at an old backcountry shelter. The reader may not have previously heard of this trail, but if you don’t mind some climbing, you very well might love a day of riding on it.
Pros: You will not see other riders on this trail, or any others in the Pyramids area for that matter. The best part of the trail can be shuttled. This awesome section can be linked easily to other trails in the area, most notably the North Ridge of Crescent Mountain, which is a pretty rad descent in it’s own. The raw feel provides a unique riding experience, with controllable drifting and a pleasant floaty feeling being the norm on a surface of needles, moss and pinecones. The scenery good as well.
Cons: TDM’s main complaint is that there is no easy route back up to the top, creating need for either a tough out and back on the trail, or a loop climbing some moderately difficult logging roads…TDM prefers loops, so logging roads typically win. Also, unless you approach from the lower trailheads, this ride is a descend now, climb out latter proposition…another classic TDM aversion.
Need to Know: As with all of the trails in the Three Pyramids area, this trail is typically not cut out until late summer or fall. Expect the tread to be smooth and predictable, but packed full of pinecones and sticks from lack of use…the bringing of extra shifting cables and derailleur hangers is not unwise.
Other Rides in the area: Pyramids Epic Loop(****),Scar Mtn (**), Crescent Mtn(***),Gordon Lakes(***),McKenzie Trail(****),O’Leary Mountain(****)Sisters(***)
Recommended Route Options:
Basic Out and back with logging road climb out: ***, 20 miles and 3,800 ft climbing. Begin at the Three Pyramids trailhead off of road 560. Climb the South Pyramid trail for about 1.4 mi to a junction with the North Ridge of Crescent Mountain trail (at road 840). Continue west on the S. Pyramid Trail, descending 3.8 awesome miles to Road 2047. Turn right for 100 yards or so to pick up the trail again, then descend another 2.5 miles to the Middle Santiam River at Shedd Camp ( look for shelter on the opposite bank, and a great swimming hole just downstream of the trail crossing). Now climb back up the way you came, returning to road 2047. Turn right (south) on this road, and ride it for around 3 miles to road 840, which then climbs steeply for another 3 miles to a pass. Continue on road 840 back to the S Pyramid trail/Crescent Mtn trail intersection, and drop the S Pyramid 1.4 miles back to your vehicle and snacks (PB if execution was top notch). Note that one can happily add-on several miles of gorgeous out and back singletrack by continuing from a junction located .25 mi east of Shedd Camp toward Pyramid Creek and the Middle Santiam Wilderness. Big trees, fun trail, another nice creekside view, and an additional 3.7 miles of riding on relatively flat ground. Recommended.
Crescent/S Pyramid combo: ****, 20 miles, 4,300 ft climbing. Its a strange shape on a map, but this might be one of the most fun rides in Oregon. Similar to the above loop, but with twice as much sick descending. Begin at the Three Pyramids trailhead off of road 560. Climb the South Pyramid trail for about 1.4 mi to a junction with the North Ridge of Crescent Mountain trail (at road 840). Climb this trail to the top of the MTN, enjoy the views, then the fantastic descent back to road 560, continuing from there down the S Pyramid descent to road 2047 (nice…that was a seven mile rail-fest!). Now turn left (south) on road 2047 and ride it for around 3 miles to road 840, which then climbs steeply for another 3 miles to a pass. Continue on road 840 back to the S Pyramid trail/Crescent Mtn trail intersection, and drop the S Pyramid 1.4 miles back to your vehicle and snacks.
Shuttles: One can shuttle the S Pyramid Trail from the South Pyramid and N Ridge Crescent Mtn TH ( on road 840) to a pickup site at the RD 2047 TH. From the top, take road 840 west about 4 miles to an intersection with2047, then turn right (north) and drive another 3 or so miles to the TH adjacent to road 852. This gets you about 4 miles of great trail, but watch for logging trucks if on a weekday.
Links, Maps & Media
Not a lot of info is available on this one, and it is worth knowing that no one map TDM has seen is 100% accurate on these trails. The USFS Detroit Ranger District map is probably the best map available.
Awesome Photo Essay by Patrick Means focusing on the Crescent and S Pyramid sections of this trail system: https://thetrailhouse.exposure.co/the-pyramids-of-oregon