Mountain Biking Northern California

Ape Canyon to The Plains of Abraham Epic

October 5th, 2014 by Ogre

Quite simply, add this ride to your bucket list. The views are amazing and the riding is incredible. I rode this as an out-and-back, but you can also ride it as a big 26 mile loop connecting it to Windy Ridge. Either route is amazing and worth your time. This is a tough ride for beginners, but intermediate riders should be fine. It’s a bit out of the way (I’ll pop back with mapping or send me a message and I’ll hook you up), but well worth it.

I suggest doing this ride on on a weekday as it’s a popular destination, I encountered 15-20 people on a Friday morning/ afternoon in the off season and it’s certain to get busier during the summer and on weekends.



Ape Canyon trail climbs up through a beautiful, lush forest only feet away from the blasted run-off field which is still recovering. The climb feels like a typical west coast forest trail except for the occasional glimpses of prior destruction. It’s only when you reach the top that you really appreciate the unique nature of this ride.


As with many of the rides along the Columbia River Gorge, views are spectacular near the top. Mt. Adams is seen here off in the distance over the Clear Valley.


This is the end of Ape Canyon trail and marks the beginning of the Plains of Abraham. The “Plains” are much more barren and feel more like a moonscape then a typical mountain bike ride. The trail flattens out a lot and the character of the trails is alien. Sharp broken up volcanic rocks and gravel and vegetation where it is is stunted.


The trail continues well past the Plains of Abraham where you get to see some spectacular views of the blasted western slope of Mount St. Helens. This is the side of the mountain that exploded and basically turned into a semi-gelatinous blob of liquid earth.

You can continue beyond this point, eventually the trail becomes Windy Ridge trail and you take a separate Canyon downhill and back to the car. I was short on time and pretty tired so I returned across the Plains of Abraham and down Ape Canyon which is itself a pretty amazing downhill. This is a ride, or the full Windy Ridge Loop belongs on everyone’s bucket list, it has the perfect combination of uniqueness, challenge, and spectacular scenery that makes it one of my all-time-favorites.

Mt. Hood – East Side Tore Me Up

September 28th, 2014 by Ogre

I had an amazing day riding some of the great trails on the east side of Mt. Hood. My route started at 8 Mile Campground and took me upcreek to Knebal Springs Loop. I rode both Loops clockwise, but I suspect most people ride Knebal Spring Loop counter-clockwise. Knebal is a great loop either way, but I highly recommend riding riding 8 Mile Camp Loop in the clockwise direction.

My route was an 18 mile double loop with about 3,100′ of climbing, there are long sections with fairly challenging climbing with 2+ mile sections at 8% grade which really wears on you, but the payoff is well worth it. Views are amazing, the trails are primarily fast buffed single track with a few short sections of choppy rocks mixed in to keep you alert. If you’ve ridden the trails at Phil’s trailhead in Bend or Boggs Mountain, you have a good idea of what to terrain-wise. The big exception being the steeper climbing and elevation which take a disproportionate toll on a rider so expect to cover a bit less ground. The views and the ripping downhills make it all worthwhile though, I highly recommend both 8 mile camp and Knebal Springs Loop.

The trails are well signed and fairly easy to navigate, I used the directions on MBPost plus a bit of help from some folks I ran into at the trailhead to get me onto Knebal Springs Trail. Once you get to the intersection of Knebal Springs and 8 mile camp loop, it’s signed well enough that most anyone can follow it. If you are taking Knebal Springs counterclockwise, you will ignore the first sign for it and stay on 8 Mile Trail until you get to the second sign.

What you can expect if you ride these trails.

Four Wheeling is strictly optional on this ride, but not discouraged.
Some riders coming down from the top of Knebal Springs loop, the downhill is freshly cut and amazing.
If long stretches of fast/ flowy single track are appealing, Knebal Springs loop delivers in spades.
At the top of Knebal Springs, the view of Mt. Hood is mind boggling.
Much of Knebal Springs is shaded by big pine trees.
Knebal Spings Loop and 8 Mile Camp Loop are both squarely “Intermediate” trails in terms of terrain. If you are looking for gnarly drops you’ll have to get creative. There are plenty of fast/ flowy sections to make up for it though.
Big skies on Knebal just above the intersection with 8 Mile Camp Loop.
One of many long/ flowy descents on Knebal Springs Loop.
Near the top of 8 Mile Camp Loop the views are spectacular, on a clear day it seems like you can see Idaho to the east…
8MileCamp7… and Mt. Hood to the West. Take the bonus climb up to 5 Mile Lookout for the best views.
Well after the ride was over, in the shadow of Mt. Hood.

My day was done, I slammed a bunch of food and pulled out the mattress in the back of the car and took a good long nap before heading up to Seattle.

I got Bent

September 26th, 2014 by Ogre

When I arrived in Bend yesterday I’d planned a short evening ride but it turned into something a bit bigger and wound up clocking about 20 miles though surprisingly less than 1000 feet of climbing. The trails off of Phil’s trailhead have fairly gentle climbs and are super smooth so you can really make time up them and downhills are fast and super flowy with uncommonly good sight lines.

I love the trails off of Phil’s trailhead because they are fun for pretty much any level of rider. Downhills are flow-filled and mostly smooth so beginners can really get a kick out of them but expert riders can challenge themselves with ridiculous speeds. They had some problems with the faster riders coming head on into climbers so recently they switched two of the main in/ out trails to one-way which makes speeding down a bit safer (but limits ride options).

Higher up and further from the mail trailhead, trails get a bit more technical and challenging which is what I was after. My goal was a particular section of Voodoo trail and getting to it turned out to be a bit longer than I’d planned. My 5-10 mile quick ride turned into a 20 mile journey, but it was a blast. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare quite well enough and made a bad turn near the end of my ride and wound up riding about 4 miles in the wrong direction after sunset. I got a bit of assistance from a fellow rider (I poached his light) and I finished the ride going down some rather tame forest roads. Bad Ogre…. great day.

Heres the better pictures from the ride, click for the full sized versions, this first panoramic is particularly awesome embiggened.


Sacramento Ditch trail to Shasta Dam

September 25th, 2014 by Ogre

After yesterday’s sunset ride in Hornbeck trail I discovered I could just overnight in the parking lot so I crashed there for the evening and did a morning ride. My plan was to do a quickie 5-7 mile ride then head out. Instead I wound up riding almost all the way to Shasta dam along the upper Sacramento Ditch trail. It’s a very nice, low key trail of which hugs the contour of the hills. The climbing is gentle and while there are switchbacks, they are wide ones which I’m confident even beginning riders could handle.

I saw some rather large bear prints which followed the trail for a couple miles which was kind of cool. The gentle trail and great views, turned my quick ride into a 15 mile spin so by the time it was over I was starved and ready for my coffee.






Hornbeck Trail

September 24th, 2014 by Ogre

Fiona is out of town for a bit so I’m taking advantage and doing some traveling. Today I stopped in Redding and spent a bit of time riding the trails below Lake Shasta along the Sacramento River. Redding has a great trail system that goes from the middle of the city all the way up to Shasta dam and they continue to improve on the trails. Hornbeck is about halfway between Redding and Shasta along the trails and it’s simply great flowing single track with lots of switchbacks and great views. If you happen to be in Redding, well worth a stop.






It’s Foothills Riding Time

April 16th, 2014 by Ogre

Hey, it’s that time of year, it’s the time when the Sierra Nevada foothills are at their peak awesomeness. This is the ideal time of year to head up to the trails in the foothills because they are all incredibly beautiful right now and soon it will be too warm to ride there comfortably. Lake Hogan, Red Hills, New Melones Reservoir, you name it, it’s the perfect time to experience the beauty of the lower Sierra.

Hogan in the springtime
Lake Hogan is only this nice for a few months each year.
Ogre's new springtime ride. Oh… what’s this now, does Ogre have a new ride?


March 9th, 2014 by Ogre


Motivation has been a big problem for me over the past 2 years, but this December I decided I would push myself; I committed to riding every single day of December. The result was great, I didn’t do any huge rides, but I managed to clock at least a few miles every single day. At the turn of the year I decided to renew my commitment and pledged to myself to pedal 900 miles in the first 90 days of 2014.

Read the rest of this entry »

One Moment of Perfect Beauty

June 5th, 2013 by Ogre

Sometimes riding is pure unadulterated joy. That perfect moment hits you and just don’t want it to stop. This weekend, it was when we were blazing down pinecrest peak trail, we were rolling down the trail as fast as conceivable, hitting all the little whoop tee dos and jumps, banking hard around the berms, and threading through technical sections at mach speed. even better, i had a couple buddies chasing me, we were all laughing, pouring on the speed. It’s an insane feeling and one I get doing few other things. The rush on adrenalin is intense and the endorphins kick in… I was grinning from ear to ear whooping hollering and laughing out loud. It doesn’t happen every ride, but when it does, it’s awesome.

I’ve been neglecting my riding so much lately that I’d forgotten about that moment… Or perhaps just set it aside for a bit. It’s going to be a busy summer as i try and get caught up.