The Oregon Timber Trail – a new, 669-mile backcountry singletrack route that a rider can follow from the California border to the Columbia River – is a gem of an idea poised to become the definitive off-road cycling experience in Oregon.
And as a new trail that’s only two seasons old (it launched in 2017), it’s a gem that’s still a little rough around the edges.
“The Oregon Timber Trail is a new, unrefined route.” notes the OTT website helpfully, “and this guide is likely to be incorrect or lacking in some sections.”
Heartened by these encouraging words, four women from the West Coast Women’s Cycling team (Deann Garcia, Aliza Richman, Karey Miles, and Heather Van Valkenburg, along with Bill Garcia) set out to ride the trail from its southernmost terminus in Lakeview up to Oakridge, a 305-mile stretch that covered all of the Fremont section and about half of the Willamette section (the trail is conveniently separated into four “tiers” to make trip-planning easier).
“What’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state?”
The website did not disappoint. In addition to the classic joys (stunning desert vistas, the occasional hot spring) and tribulations (punishing heat, sand, cows) of an Eastern Oregon bikepacking trip, the fledgling OTT had a few surprises.
But at the end of the day, what’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some light heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state? The OTT is a gateway to the seldom-seen corners of Oregon and worth getting out of your comfort zone for. The best part, said rider Deann Garcia, was “figuring out that it was possible for our bodies to handle it. Just powering through, feeling like your body was getting better and that you could ride forever… and knowing that you have friends who want to do this with you.”
This Saturday, Nov. 17th, these intrepid women are hosting an event to share their stories and encourage others interested in embarking on an OTT trip of their own. They’ll show a 25-minute video of footage from the trail and then take your questions. They’ll also have their fully-loaded bikes with gear and packing lists to help riders set up their own rig.
And to make sure this trail keeps getting better and better for all of us, all proceeds of raffle sales will support the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance – the team of badass trail stewards who built the trail and do the hard work of maintaining it.
The Oregon Timber Trail: Pushing On
Saturday, Nov. 17th at 5 pm
Evolution Fitness (905 SE Ankeny)
Free – Beers are $2 (bring your own pint glass), Raffle tix are $1 each – all sales will be donated to the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance.
The event is open to all and should be especially useful for women/woman-identifying people who are interested in bikepacking and looking to meet like-minded peers. Hope to see you there!
— Rebecca Hamilton
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