Closest Towns: Oakridge (45 min), Eugene (1.5 hr), Bend & Corvallis (2.5 hr)
Ride Format: Shuttles, loops, lollipops, out and back..
Trail Style: Backcountry & rugged with ripable endings..
Giggle Rating: ***
Riding :*** (**** on final descents)
Flow:** (**** on descents)
Technicality: Moderate to hard, depending on condition.
Physical Difficulty: Hard…soft ground on climbs.
Ideal Bike: Trail bike
Wet Conditions: Could be a mess in the meadows? Forested parts will fare well. Snowed in during winter and spring.
Overview: In only two short years the Grasshopper Mtn. trail has managed a transition from abandoned hot mess to ruggedly handsome gem, and the renovations have yet to subside. The trail traces a rugged ridge, alternating between mature forests and sublime grassy meadows as it staggers along a series of short-ish climbs and descents. These Grassy meadows are the trail’s signature aesthetic, and the views in many places are expansive, but this creature also has a few thorns lurking in the shadows. Suitors should expect plenty of punchy riding on soft, narrow tracks that at times disappear into tufts of grass or the thick layering of huckleberry. The recent trend toward impressive trail work will likely continue to improve its quality, and the way is now well and truly clear, but the rugged vibe will not be tamed any time soon…and TDM could not be more stoked about that. To summarize this summary, your legs will likely feel more abused than the modest statistics suggests, but your effort will be richly rewarded with miles of remote, rugged singletrack, some stunning views, and a top-shelf final descent that will find you hooting to nobody but the trees and whoever you brought with you.
Pros: Riding through meadows in the higher country of the cascades is a bit of a rarity, and this ride has lots of great meadow sections. The views of the Three Sisters and other peaks in the area are good, and the ride has this cool sense of progression as one moves along the ridge…chapters, if you will. There are several options for the final descents, and all are fun, but the direct line down Grasshopper, then continuing down Box Canyon trail (here-after known as the GBC descent) provides about 6 miles of absolutely shredable terrain; hugely giggle inducing.. Recent attention has improved many sections considerably and more work is expected in the future.
Cons: Side-hilling…lots of it…sometimes with exposure. The western third of the trail in particular is very raw as it climbs around Grasshopper Mountain, with some pretty big falls if a poorly timed high-siding event occurs. This is not a huge problem, and TDM actually likes this section a lot, but it is worth knowing about. Much of this section can be missed by accessing the trail at its center access near Grasshopper Mtn. Also know that the final climb before reaching the GBC starts with a bang…steep!
Need to Know: TDM believes this rig is best done shuttled from west to east, but it works in either direction. If climbing the trail from the east, consider using the Chucksney Mtn Trail #3306, as it is both scenic and an easier climb. This also sets you up to top out Chucksney peak with a short hike from the ridgetop meadow….nice views. Speaking of views, Grasshopper Mountain should also be hiked via a short trail up the south ridge (start in the meadow from the saddle). It was mentioned above, but bears repeating that the Grasshopper Trail Descent to Box Canyon campground is a classic, and should not be missed. The descent down Box Canyon trail is no slouch either…must do if shuttling, should do if not. The trail has been cut out around the middle of August for the last few years…consult MTB Project for updates.
Recommended Route Options
The Loop(s)~30 miles 5,500 feet gained (4-6 hours). *** There are a few ways to do this one, but TDM has only done this, so he will kick the following digits. Park at the intersection of HWY 19 and RD1927 (Augusta Cr Rd). Ride up the road about 6.1 miles to the TH, then follow the Grasshopper Mtn Trail, finishing on the final awesome descent to Box Canyon Campground. Hit the Hwy here and descend fun pavement north (left) back to your car, or descend the Box Canyon Trail for another few miles of good singletrack, then climb back over the pass on the HWY if you want more like 35 miles with 6500 ft climbing. Big ride, either way..
Full Shuttle ~16 miles, 2,300 ft gained (2-5 HRS). **** Start from the TH at a pass on Augusta Cr Rd (Rd 1927), and ride south, ending on the epic descent that is the full GBC. Can also add in the Chucksney Mtn section for extra views, but TDM recommends this as an out and back section since the Grasshopper descent is one of his favorites.
Box Canyon Loop or lollipops. ~ 13.5 miles, 3200 ft climbing (2-5hrs)*** This version gets some of the views, one of the best meadows, and the full epic descent without having to use 2 cars or ride your legs into the ground, just don’t expect the climb to be easy. Park at the Southern end of the Box Canyon Trail on HWY 19, and either climb the trail or the HWY to Box Canyon Campground. Now climb Chucksney Mtn Trail to the top where you can enjoy your poptarts in the company of a fine view. Complete the Chucksney section back to Grasshopper Trail, turn left, and bomb the dickens out of this and the Box Canyon descents. Happy now?
Links, Maps & Media
For maps, TDM prefers the USFS Mckenzie River Ranger District map, which also covers many other classics like O’leary and the Mckenzie Trails
The trailwork on this awesome ride has been conducted by a variety of folks who deserve your thanks. The best way to thank them might just be to help out. Please consult the below link to pursue this further: http://www.oakridgegoats.org/?q=node/30