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John Dellenback Dunes

Editor’s Note: Biking is not permitted on the Dellenback Dunes Trail. To access the Dellenback Dunes, use the Eel Creek Campground. It’s critical for people and pets to avoid areas that are closed due to western snowy plover nesting season, March 15-Sept. 15. Look for bright yellow signs nearby Oregon’s beaches and more info about how to protect this threatened species here.

Fat bikes open up an entirely new category of riding on Oregon’s beaches. The combo of sand and bike opens up so many opportunities. For example, there’s the flat, leisurely pleasure cruise on a beach like Seaside. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s a challenging, steep adventure among the shifting Oregon dunes. This route is for people looking for the bigger adventure.

The John Dellenback Dunes Dunes, just south of Reedsport and part of the renowned Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, brings together an optimal mix of the elements endorphin-addicted outdoor athletes crave: the pedal-powered challenge of a trail network, the creative playfulness of a skate park, and the gliding grace of a ski run.

From the trailhead, your first task is to climb – it’s steep and hard-packed; you may even have to push your bike, but persist and you shall be rewarded. As you work your way up, you’ll be looking at a personal playground of dunes – the higher up you get, the more you’ll be salivating at the sight of wind-sculpted ridges, bowls, lips and more.

Of course, one of the bonuses of dune riding is that there aren’t defined trails – you just pick out something interesting and ride it. So drop in and get ready for something completely different.

If you haven’t ridden this kind of sandy terrain before, take it easy at first so you can get a feel for how your bike responds to the shifty surface. It’s an odd combination of skiing, steering and drifting. Your front wheel will be doing things it doesn’t normally do, but once you learn to go with it, it’s an incredibly fun new sensation.

As your confidence builds, you’ll inevitably up the ante on what you’re willing to try. The possibilities are endless, so go ahead and try something a little steeper, a little more technical, or just plain harder. Riding and playing will inevitably blend into the same thing. But even though sand is a more forgiving surface than many others, you still want your helmet on and your protective senses on full alert. (Oh, and try to keep your mouth closed if/when you crash.)

Warning: Time may pass much more quickly than you’re aware of, as you meander up, down, and all around the dunes, with no sense of mileage or minutes. You’ll be physically challenged, but you’ll also have more fun than ought to be allowed.

Download our Southern Oregon Coast fat biking guide here.

If you go: Wherever you go fat biking on the Coast, check the tides and try to go during low tide as much as possible. Beware of sneaker waves and stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches. Respect the sensitive micro-environments, whether it’s birds or anenome you encounter. In particular, it’s critical for people and pets to avoid areas that are closed due to western snowy plover nesting season, March 15-Sept. 15. Look for bright yellow signs nearby Oregon’s beaches and more info about how to protect this threatened species here). 

John Dellenback Dunes
John Dellenback Dunes | Dylan VanWeelden

Activities

  • Bicycling
  • Bicycling Routes
  • Fat Bike Ride

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