Closest Towns: Oakridge(10 min), Eugene (45 min),
Ride Format: Loops and/or shuttle.
Trail Style: Ripping Trail
Giggle Rating: ****
Difficulty: Moderate to Gnarly.
Ideal Bike: Trail Bike
Wet Weather ?: Rides well in the wet, but there can be snow at the top.
Overview: Alpine is a trail that just about everyone seems to like, and TDM won’t shock the masses by going against the grain this time around. One of the keys to this trail’s popularity is it’s flexible nature. Short shuttle? Big loops? Shuttle from the top with a lap on one of the other great trails in the area…check, check and check. The McKenzie is the trail that seems to be more famous, but it is Alpine that seems to leave out-of-staters babbling, and TDM has one general explanation why…this trail is simply super fun. At the heart of it, this trail features a lot of really good descending, with a bit of climbing thrown in at pleasant intervals to allow a little bit of an aerobic high. Add a few good views, a cool meadow, and some great forests and you have one of the best trails in the state, whether you are riding an epic with the roughest toughs you know, or cruising a short shuttle with a few of the kids from the neighborhood. To summarize this summary, one of TDM’s good friends recently visited the US while writing an article for an Australian MTB magazine. We rode a bunch of Oregon classics, and spent 2 weeks riding epic backcountry trails in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho. At the end of the trip it was Alpine that she just had to talk about.
Pros: A lot of descending, no matter how you string things together. Great forests, tons of character, and really convenient. No sections suck…at all.
Cons: Most people climb on the roads if not shuttling. These roads are not hard, but seem to go on forever…not exciting stuff. Beginners should be aware of the exposure of several sections…enough that even some advanced riders feel some altered gravity in spots. The trail is not difficult, but there are some consequences.
Need to Know: The lower trailhead has bathrooms and water (and a pump track). If you have the legs it is worth looking at various longer loops in the area…some good ideas are listed below. Shuttles run most days of the week, and though TDM typically prefers a loop, this is one place where a shuttle can really maximize the fun. Be aware that, even with a full shuttle, there will still be at least 1800 feet of climbing…a small price for the 4500 ft of descending you get in return. Doing the shuttle with two cars takes about an hour…faster riders will often beat shuttle crews to the bar.
Recommended Route Options
- The Regular; about 15.6 miles and 1850 feet vertical (2-4hrs) with shuttle, 31 miles and 5600 feet (2.5-6 HRS). Bring a map. Start from the lower Alpine TH ( leave a car if shuttling) and ride/drive east on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway (or ride the North Fork Trail) 4.3 mi, then up forest service road 1910 to Windy Pass (7.9 miles). At a four way intersection take the road 1912 going most uphill, riding about a mile to a trail crossing, then another two miles or so ( past some great views) to Kate’s Cut-in. Turn left at the first trail junction, and ride Alpine 15.6 miles back to the TH. Yum.
- ATCA (about 24 mi, 3700ft elevation (2.5-5 hrs): Shuttle to Kate’s Cut in, then ride upper Alpine to the Tire Mountain trail. Turn right on tire mountain, climb a bit, then descend an amazing forest to the Clover Patch trail. Turn left up Clover Patch, climb a hill, then drop to a gravel road. Descend that road for a ways to road 230 on the left just past tire creek. Climb this for about 2 mi , turn right onto a spur, then shortly after climb the singletrack which switchbacks pleasantly up the mountain back to Alpine Trail. Descend the remainder to your car and a beer. Varied and sort of epic feeling. ***NOTE: a trail is being built which will connect clover patch to the climb back to Alpine…this is likely going to be a classic when that happens!***
- Chrome Toilet add-on, nearly 7 mi, about half of which is on gravel road. If it has been recently cut out, this is a great section of trail that gets considerably less traffic than the other portions of Alpine. If it is not cut out prepare to get off the bike to step around about a million logs, plus or minus ten logs. From Kate’s cut-in, turn right (north) and cruise about 3.5 miles (and a final fun descent) to a gravel road. Turn right, and to Kate’s after an easy climb of about 3.4 miles.
- Tire-Alpine Semi-Shuttle (41 mi and 4000 ft gain(2.5 – 6 hrs): This is a pretty cool ride, and if you shuttle the first climb you get two huge descents with only one big climb. Bring a map. Start from the lower Alpine TH ( leave a car if shuttling) and ride/drive east on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway (or ride the North Fork Trail) 4.3 mi, then up forest service road 1910 to Windy Pass (7.9 miles).Turn left at Wendy Pass and park at the TH. Climb on Alpine Trail, then turn right on the Tire Mountain Trail. You will climb this for a short time, then descend Tire mountain for 12 miles, taking the Winbery Trail for the last 2mi to road 1802. Climb this road upstream about 15 miles back to Windy Pass, then repeat the first Alpine climb, but descend Alpine bliss for 6.5 miles back to your starting point.
Links, Maps & Media
MTB project: http://www.mtbproject.com/trail/4324612/alpine
Oregon Adventures (shuttles and guides): http://oregon-adventures.com/
Adventure Maps: http://www.adventuremaps.net/
Willamette Mountain Mercantile (Oakridge Bike Shop): http://oakridgebikeshop.com/