21% Paved

31% Dirt road 

48% Singletrack 

85% Percent rideable

Longest stretch between resupply: 90 miles. 2-3 days

Longest stretch between water sources: 20 miles, 1 day

Physical difficulty: 9/10

Technical difficulty: 8/10

Bikepacking challenge: Advanced


As you head into the Hood Tier you may think you’re on the final stretch—that is if you haven’t looked at the elevation profile. The Hood Tier takes you up and down across countless backcountry ridges and streams, first teasing you with imposing views of Mount Jefferson and eventually Mount Hood itself. The Old Cascade Crest is steep and rewarding, eventually dropping you near Detroit Lake and up to Olallie Lakes through the Breitenbush Hot Springs valley. 

The Olallie Lakes Scenic Area is another quiet, high-elevation landscape speckled with pristine pocket lakes brimming with trout. (and mosquitos) Many great dispersed campsites are abound, and the Olallie Lake Resort is well-stocked for PCT thru-hikers so should have a good selection for the bikepacker. 

Keep heading north—here the Oregon Timber Trail follows dusty roads that were once the Oregon Skyline Trail, a predecessor to the Pacific Crest Trail established in 1968. You’ll loop around Timothy Lake, marvel at Little Crater Lake, cross the White River at the historic Barlow Crossing, and begin your long climb to Gunsight Ridge. Gunsight connects to the famous Surveyor’s Ridge, before dropping you into the Hood River valley where a plethora of fresh fruit, wine, beer, and BBQ await in Parkdale. 

Don’t celebrate too early as you’ve got another stiff climb ahead to the top of the Post Canyon trail system and a fast, rowdy trail down into the Columbia River Gorge and the bustling northern terminus of Hood River. Dip your tires and toes in the Columbia River: it’s time to celebrate—you just rode your mountain bike across the whole state!

Highlights

Fish Lake Work Center

Crescent, Coffin, and Bachelor Mountains

McCoy Shelter

Breitenbush Hot Spring Retreat

Olallie Lakes

Timothy Lake

Barlow Crossing

44 Trails System

Surveyor’s Ridge

Parkdale

Post Canyon

Views of Mount Hood from Olallie Lakes © Gabriel Amadeus

Views of Mount Hood from Olallie Lakes © Gabriel Amadeus

Logistics

Although you’re somewhat closer to civilization now, the resupply points are even more limited. There’s no real resupply between Sisters and Idanha (80 hard miles) and no resupply between Olallie Lakes Resort and Parkdale (90 hard miles). Pack smartly and make sure you have enough food if it takes a day or two longer than expected. 

Vegetation and trails are particularly sensitive in the Old Cascade Crest segment, tread lightly and practice leave no trace wherever you ride and camp. 

Breitenbush Hot Springs is an excellent and relaxing rustic hot springs retreat but note that reservations are required for staying overnight as well as day-use. 

At the north end of Timothy Lake at mile 580 the Oregon Timber Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail share the same foot bridge. Bikes are not allowed on the PCT, but walking your bike across this bridge is permitted. Please respect the no-bikes exclusion here and at other intersection points along the route. 

Once entering the 44 Trails area after Gunsight Ridge there is a plethora of spur loop options for riders to embark on if desired. Fifteenmile, Knebal, Bottle Prairie, and Dog River are all excellent. 

The final 20 miles travel through county lands that are managed for timber harvest, be cautious of logging traffic on narrow roads and respect temporary trail closures. 

Wildflower season © Leslie Kehmeier

Wildflower season © Leslie Kehmeier

Trail & Forest info

Mount Hood National Forest - Sandy, OR | (503) 668-1700

Recommended maps

USGS Topographical Quadrants available at USGS.gov

Mount Hood Area Adventure Map

Hood River Mountain Biking Adventure Map

National Geographic Mount Jefferson / Mount Washington Trail Map

National Geographic Mount Hood Trail Map

Bike shops

Dirty Fingers Bicycles Repair
1235 State St. | Hood River, OR 97031 | (541) 308-0420

Nearest medical facilities

St. Charles Medical Center
2500 NE Neff Road | Bend, OR 97701 | (541) 382-4321

Salem Health
890 Oak St. SE | Salem, OR 97301 | (503) 561-5200

Providence Portland Medical Center
4805 NE Glisan St. | Portland, OR 97213 | (503) 215-1111

Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital
810 12th St. | Hood River, OR 97031 | (541) 386-3911

Olallie Lakes area © Leslie Kehmeier

Olallie Lakes area © Leslie Kehmeier


OLD CASCADE CREST

Segment 8 of 10 - Fish Lake to Olallie Lake

Lower Lake Trail © Leslie Kehmeier

Lower Lake Trail © Leslie Kehmeier

Segment length: 73 miles

Total climbing: +12,606 feet

Number of days: 2-4

15% Paved

57% Dirt road

28% Singletrack

85% Rideable

Physical difficulty: 9/10

Technical difficulty: 8/10

Bikepacking challenge: Advanced 

Longest stretch between resupply: 45 miles, 1-2 days

Longest stretch between water sources: Many water sources

 

Resupplies

Mile 477: Clear Lake Resort: Very minimal snacks at store

Mile 518: Idanha Store: Standard convenience store fare

Mile 535: Breitenbush: Small gift shop

Mile 550: Olallie Lake Resort: Well stocked resort store familiar with the needs of PCT thru-hikers

Commercial Lodging

Mile 477: Clear Lake Resort: Very minimal snacks at store

Mile 535: Breitenbush Cabins

Mile 550: Olallie Lake Resort: Cabins and yurts available

Old Cascade Crest © Gabriel Amadeus

Old Cascade Crest © Gabriel Amadeus

A little-known zone, Old Cascade Crest holds secret some of the best views of Mount Jefferson in the range. The Oregon Timber Trail only scales a few of the several steep peaks in this area, but these few will leave you exhausted and wanting to come back for more. You’ll slowly work your way towards Olallie Lake in the shadow of Mt Jefferson through deep valleys and over ridgelines, passing fire lookouts, wildflower meadows, rushing streams, mountain lakes, and hot springs. 

Leaving Clear Lake and the headwaters of the McKenzie you’ll pass the Fish Lake Remount Depot which was a popular last stop to graze horses and cattle before the final push over Santiam Pass along the Santiam Wagon Road. This is one of the few small sections of the route where traveling on a highway is required. Be extremely careful and stay on the shoulder as you travel north on Hwy 126 and west on Hwy 20 for approximately 2 miles to the Old Cascades Crest Trailhead. 

Shortly you’ll come to the Crescent Mountain Trailhead and begin climbing this appropriately-named crest. Invasive species have been found at the trailhead and the meadow vegetation is extremely sensitive in this area so please refrain from straying off trail or camping in this zone. A steep climb and descent leave you skirting the Three Pyramids and on northward along dirt roads. 

You’ll pass the diminutive Tule Lake (a nice campsite) and come to Coffin Mountain (worth a detour for the views) and Bachelor Mountain (also worth the short scramble to the top) before a ripping descent to the North Santiam River, Hwy 22, and a small store in Idanha. 

From Idanha there is a hefty road climb to the Boulder Ridge and the McCoy shelter (free and open on a first-come first-serve basis) and then an equally steep descent on dirt roads to Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat. Breitenbush asks that you make reservations even for day use soaking, but it’s worth the extra step—and even more worth it if you book a cabin and eat the communal meals. 

A few more miles of pavement along the Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway lies ahead, and then you’ll take a sharp upward turn and begin the jumbly, loose climb into the Olallie Lakes Scenic Area. You’ll roll past countless small pocket lakes, lined with dispersed campsites and teeming with life. Travel quietly and see what wildlife you’ll encounter along the way. Before too long you’ll come to Lower Lake where you’ll probably detour right to the Olallie Lake Resort for supplies, or keep pushing on to Timothy Lake and Mount Hood.

Mount Hood National Forest night sky © Gabriel Amadeus

Mount Hood National Forest night sky © Gabriel Amadeus


WY’EAST

Segment 9 of 10 - Olallie Lake to Parkdale

Circling Timothy Lake © Leslie Kehmeier

Circling Timothy Lake © Leslie Kehmeier

Segment length: 92 miles

Total climbing: +8,746 feet

Number of days: 2-3

20% Paved

26% Dirt road

54% Singletrack

95% Rideable

Physical difficulty: 7/10

Technical difficulty: 6/10

Bikepacking challenge: Advanced 

Longest stretch between resupply: 92 miles, 2-3 days

Longest stretch between water sources: 22 miles, 1 day

 

Resupplies

Mile 550: Olallie Lake Resort: Well stocked resort store familiar with the needs of PCT thru-hikers

Mile 641: Parkdale: Several restaurants and full grocery store

Commercial Lodging

Mile 550: Olallie Lake Resort: Cabins and yurts available

Mile 641: Old Parkdale Inn

This segment is called Wy’east after the Multnomah Tribe’s name for this imposing and prominent stratovolcano—the highest peak in Oregon. The history runs deep here: many river and lakes have attracted hunters and fishermen for thousands of years. The terrain is steep and the forests dense, yet somehow provided a less-formidable path to the Willamette Valley for emigrants of the Oregon Trail. The alternative was the raging rapids of the mighty Columbia that would snuff out a wagon-laden raft without a thought. 

Finally Mount Hood creeps larger as you follow the path of the historic Skyline Trail to Timothy Lake where you’re rewarded with picturesque views. Follow the lake trail clockwise to the meadows at the north end and take a peek at Little Crater Lake before continuing on. Just before you reach Hwy 26 turn right into Skyline Sno-Park and ride through the large culvert under the highway. 

Just before you cross White River, turn right and follow the historic Barlow Road (NF 3530) to the south, crossing the the river and passing Forest Creek Campground. The next 8 miles to Bennett Pass will be tough ones—2,000 feet of elevation in just 8 miles. But it’s worth it for the camp at Bonney Meadows or Boulder Lake. Keep pushing along Gunsight Ridge and Gumjuwac Saddle which affords you with your first up close and personal views of Mt Hood. 

Peaking out at High Prairie you’ll begin the long, sustained drop into the Hood River Valley and the Columbia River Gorge. Follow Lookout Mountain Trail, to Knebal Springs trail, to the top of Surveyor’s Ridge picking your way through meadows, forests and outcroppings. The final descent to Parkdale on Oak Ridge trail is steep and switchbacky, take it slow and be careful once you pop back out on the busy country roads of the Hood River Valley. 

Parkdale is a relaxed little agricultural town known for it’s fruit, beer, barbecue, and stunning views of Mt Hood. Pick up a few supplies at the grocery store—but not too many—you’re only a short 30 miles from the northern terminus of the Oregon Timber Trail. 

Ascending to Bonnie Meadows © Leslie Kehmeier

Ascending to Bonnie Meadows © Leslie Kehmeier


THE GORGE

Segment 10 of 10 - Parkdale to Hood River

Waucoma Backcountry © Gabriel Amadeus

Waucoma Backcountry © Gabriel Amadeus

Segment length: 28 miles

Total climbing: +3,002 feet

Number of days: 1-2

49% Paved

16% Dirt road

35% Singletrack

100% Rideable

Physical difficulty: 5/10

Technical difficulty: 6/10

Bikepacking challenge: Beginner

Longest stretch between resupply: 28 miles, 1-2 days

Longest stretch between water sources: Many water sources

 

Resupplies

Mile 641: Parkdale: Several restaurants and full grocery store

Mile 670: Many Hood River options available

Commercial Lodging

Mile 641: Old Parkdale Inn

Mile 670: Many Hood River options available

At this point you can almost taste victory, you couldn’t fathom pointing your haggard body and bike up another rocky climb. But there remains one more gruelling ascent and then a glorious rowdy bomb through the famous Post Canyon down to Waterfront Park in Hood River. 

Leave Parkdale with full bellies for a mellow, flat, paved cruise through fruit tree orchards, cross the Hood River itself at Dee, and then drop to your granny gear as you hit dirt. After a scenic and steep 7 miles you’ll arrive at the Kingsley Reservoir staging area. Kingsley, the last campground available on the route, is a small reservoir with campground that is popular with fisherman, OHV riders, and mountain bikers. 

Post Canyon © Leslie Kehmeier

Post Canyon © Leslie Kehmeier

Post Canyon trails have gone through several iterations as mountain biking has evolved, but they’ve been on the radar of mountain bikers nationwide consistently for the past 15 years. Near the top of the system at Kingsley expect to encounter more motorized trail traffic, where the lower trails are optimized for mountain biking. Many options are available through the network, choose freely but be aware of frequent temporary trail closures for active timber harvests. 

With names like Dirt Surfer, Whipsnake, and Bladerunner you’re sure to have a blast. These are some of the more fun, flowy, and challenging purpose-built mountain bike trails on the whole route, check out the entire trail system on mtbproject.com if you want to pick an easier line through the canyon. 

Kingsley Reservoir © Gabriel Amadeus

Kingsley Reservoir © Gabriel Amadeus

The last few miles take you through the bustling town of Hood River. People travel from all over the world to kite surf, kayak, hike, and mountain bike here and it’s apparent with the many bike shops, breweries, and cafes catering to this adventurous crowd. Roll over the freeway and jump in the Columbia River at Waterfront Park. Delicious beer and hot food are on the other side of the street waiting for you to celebrate finishing your rugged and thrilling trek across the multitude of natural and cultural landscapes that make up Oregon. 

 

The mighty Columbia River © Leslie Kehmeier

The mighty Columbia River © Leslie Kehmeier

Sam and Kim, Oregon Timber Trail Pioneers © Leslie Kehmeier

Sam and Kim, Oregon Timber Trail Pioneers © Leslie Kehmeier

Rewarding yourself back in civizilation © Gabriel Amadeus

Rewarding yourself back in civizilation © Gabriel Amadeus