by Tina Lassen
Those riders are no doubt delighted to discover more than 80 miles of trails in three local trail systems, each with terrain for everyone from novices to the highly skilled. The riding season here offers great range, too. K-Falls’ sunny, dry high-desert climate usually means nice tacky dirt by early April, when many other areas are still mired in snow or mud. Fall riding often stretches into November. Here are three trail networks to explore.
You could hardly find a sweeter location for a ride: a 7,500-acre knuckle of forest land jutting out into Upper Klamath Lake, high enough for eyeballing peaks from Mt. McLoughlin to Mt. Shasta. Spence Mountain’s 35 miles of well-marked trails — with 30 more planned — wind along the shoreline, snake along ridges and climb just shy of its 5,800-foot summit.
Professional Bend-based trail designers and builders created Spence’s trails specifically for mountain biking, and it shows. Uphills like South Ridge are moderate and mostly forgiving, descents like Hooligan fast and flowy, and black-diamond routes like Queen of the Lake and North Ridge Trail entertaining for experts with rock gardens and gap jumps. If that all sounds a bit much, gentler routes follow Shoalwater Bay and loop through forest.
Trailhead: 15 miles north of Klamath Falls on OR-140
Prime Time: Mid-April to Mid-November, best in spring and fall
Upper Klamath Lake near Hagelstein County Park and Winema National Forest
Just across the Klamath River from downtown, Moore Mountain is the go-to spot for locals looking for a quick ride after work. Visitors might be pleasantly surprised to discover 20 miles of varied and scenic trails, with mellow routes through the sagebrush near the river, then wildflower meadows and ponderosa forest as the terrain climbs west. “The further up you go, the tougher the riding gets,” explains Honzel. To get your bearings, he recommends the 4-mile Klamath Ridgeview Trail. It essentially traverses the trail system and connects to most of the intermediate and advanced trails above, with handsome lake views along the way.
Trailhead: 0.5 miles west of the Klamath River on Cypress Avenue
Prime Time: Early April to Mid-November, best in spring and fall
When summer brings dusty conditions to the lower trails, Brown Mountain is just hitting its prime. On the crest of the Cascades, two mountain lakes bookend the 9-mile High Lakes Trail, which meanders through Douglas fir forest and chunky lava beds. It makes a super scenic out-and-back, or combined with the Brown Mountain Trail, a memorable 25-mile loop.
Trailhead: 36 miles northwest of Klamath Falls on OR-140
Prime Time: June-October
If you go:
In spring and fall, base your stay in Klamath Falls at the Running Y Ranch Resort or hotels like the Best Western Plus Olympic Inn and Rocky Point Resort. For summer riding, Fish Lake Resort and Lake of the Woods Resort offer lakefront lodging near the Brown Mountain trails.
Freelance writer and editor Tina Lassen writes about travel and outdoor recreation for several national publications, and is at work on a guidebook about watching wildlife in North America. Thanks to a career that lets her live anywhere, Tina happily makes her home in Hood River.