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North Umpqua Trail

Are you ready to go big? Really big? And we’re not talking about big air – this is about big adventure. The legendary kind of trip where you come back with barely believable tales, interesting scars, and some new skills you didn’t know you had. Some trails just invite epic-ness, and the NUT is one of those trails, without a doubt.
The North Umpqua Trail (NUT) stretches out for 69 miles. And it serves up more mountain-biking adventure than most people can handle. The trail is broken into 11 sections, of which the lower 10 are open to mountain bikes. With an elevation profile spanning from 800 to 4,300 feet, the NUT has a long riding season, although the full trail is only open in the summer. The lower reaches are open from early spring through late fall, so doing an out-and-back exploration from the bottom is a great option during “shoulder” seasons.
The first thing to decide is how big a bite you want to take here. It’s like a giant buffet of single-track; you can use several approaches to attacking it. Riding all 10 segments in one push is a great bikepacking adventure, but you’d better know what you’re doing and be properly equipped.
Another way to go is to ride supported from one or more of the several campgrounds along the way. Head out in one direction until you’ve had half of enough, then turn and go back. Go the other way the next day. That’s a heck of a weekend.
For the full adventure, start the ride at the Kelsey Valley trailhead, high up on the Umpqua River. It doesn’t take long to capture the essence of the setting. Taking off, you immediately plunge into a deep forest punctuated by little green explosions of ferns, tumbling waterfalls and steep side hills that drop precipitously to the roaring river below. You’ll want to drink in the views, but you’d be smart to stop to do it — this is the kind of tread that requires your full attention when you’re in motion.
Each of the 10 segments has its own appeal; a little more online research might help you decide which ones best suit what you’re looking for. A few examples: Dread and Terror lives up to its name (although it was actually named by early forest rangers fearful of the prospect of fighting a fire in this deep valley). The Hot Springs section is pretty self-explanatory, and Tioga at the bottom is the longest run, throwing some of the most challenging riding at you right near the end, when your legs have turned to jelly.
And that’s the beauty of the NUT – you can pick your adventure; it’s right there for you. Whatever you choose to ride, the tangy scent of pine, the burble of water racing downhill, and the sound of your breathing in the quiet forest will all stick with you long afterward. And it’s likely something really big will happen – just slice off whatever piece of backcountry awesomeness you feel like, and see how it what it turns out to be.
For more information, visit

Gabriel Amadeus Tiller
Gabriel Amadeus Tiller


  • Bicycling
  • Bicycling Routes
  • Mountain Bike Trail

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