Curious about the Oregon Timber Trail? A dumptruck of adventure can be found along its 669 miles—and all types of riding conditions. Stretching from the California/Oregon border to the Columbia River Gorge, the OTT offers everything from sinuous singletrack through dense forest to ridge lines with vistas that stretch for days.
It’s possible to do the entire course in one epic 20- to 30-day push, but why rush it? The fact is, you could spend a year doing weekend strikes and still have room for more.
This past October—just weeks before the snow started to fall—we did just that sort of trip. Giant teamriders Eliot Jackson and Adam Craig joined Giant USA’s Derek Donaldson and Parley Ford of Blazin Saddles for a quick two-day strike along the southern-most of the trail's four main sections or "tiers". What they discovered was an adventure just about anyone can aim for, and the perfect testing ground for Giant’s Trance 29 range of bikes.
Here’s a primer on planning your own adventure:
What’s the Riding Like? “The beauty of the OTT is the diversity of riding,” says Giant Athlete Adam Craig. “Oregon is known for lush forests with dark dirt and beautiful ribbons of singletrack. There's plenty of that along the OTT alignment. There are also high desert landscapes, barren ridgelines, recently burned forest and the influence of Oregon's volcanic geology is apparent at times. People should expect it all.”
Craig says it’s prudent to mention that, regardless of the tier, these are primitive trails in remote country. "Much of the OTT alignment passes near designated Wilderness and it certainly has that character," he says. “Plan on challenging route-finding at times and acknowledging that, even when doing day rides or short overnights, riders need to be self-sufficient. Which is kind of the point, right?”
When To Go? It all depends on the year. In 2017, the Timber Trail's inaugural year, deep snow stuck around until mid-July and then the whole state lit on fire the first week in August. "Which at least knocked the mosquitos back," laughs Craig. "I think the second week in September is a great time to do a weekend ride. It might be a little late to start the whole trail, but if you got lucky it sure would be perfect."
Get Planning! Start with how much time you have available and what support infrastructure you'll be working with and go from there. There is a trove of information on the Oregon Timber Trail website. Have a look at the Route Guides for each tier and decide where you'd like to start and end your journey.
"It doesn't have to be a California to Washington trip every time," says Craig. "Pick a tier and pick it apart into digestible, inspiring chunks for your group."
This could mean self-supported riding point-to-point, the same with the help of a support car, or a base camp with intent to explore some of the other trails which are often neighboring the route in all directions.
Other tips? "Bring more food than you think you'll need and be ready to manage your water provisions," says Craig. "Speaking of water, the weather is generally awesome in Oregon during proper summer, as we're dominated by high pressure over the Pacific, but as soon as you go without rain gear, well ..."