Riding the North Umpqua Trail

by Jen Anderson

 

About 20 miles east of Roseburg and three hours south of Portland, this world-class trail runs parallel to part of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway for 71 miles of breathtaking terrain — with river views, volcanic formations, towering firs, spectacular waterfalls and other sights that are best enjoyed over several days. 

With 12 primary trailheads, you can access segments varying from 3.5 miles to 15.7 miles long, with three levels of difficulty, to suit all skill levels. You can download a trail brochure and plan your own adventure. Or you can book a local guide, like Oregon Mountain Guides, based in the North Umpqua area, for a hassle-free experience. 

North Umqua Trail. Photo Tyler Roemer. North Umqua Trail. Photo Tyler Roemer.

The company offers multiday guided bike trips, as well as hiking trips if you’d rather go on foot. North Umpqua Trail riders can choose from two types of organized trips offered: camping or staying in lodging nearby. Either way, the outfitter takes care of all of the logistics so the only thing to think about is the 20 glorious miles of riding per day, for three days, starting at the top at Lemolo Lake and ending at Swiftwater Park. 

Part of what makes the NUT so special is that it’s a partnership between scores of dedicated volunteers, the Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg District Bureau of Land Management and Douglas County Parks Department.

Need more convincing? The NUT is one of about two dozen high-endurance trails in the United States ranked by the International Mountain Biking Association as an “Epic Trail,” meaning it’s a major draw for mountain bikers to plan a trip around. Criteria for the ranking are that it’s a true backcountry riding experience in a remote setting that is technically and physically challenging, more than 80% singletrack, beautiful and worthy of celebration. Ride on. 

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If you go: 

  • Sections of the Marsters segment of the trail are temporarily closed for restoration, so check with the trail’s Facebook page and website for the most up-to-date information, including seasonal fire restrictions.
  • Cell services and amenities are limited in this remote area, so if you do go on your own, make sure to pack your Ten Essentials, including plenty of water — do not drink untreated water. Also, keep an eye out for poison oak, ticks and mosquitos, and bring mosquito repellent.
  • Be confident in your abilities before you head out; some trail segments are long and difficult. Make sure your bike is in good working order.
  • Know your trail etiquette: Riders should travel a safe speed on the trail and move to the side when encountering horseback riders. Be friendly and respect all trail users.

 

Jen Anderson is senior editor of Travel & Tourism at MEDIAmerica. When she’s not writing about Oregon, she’s exploring. Biking, camping, paddling, and exploring beaches and brewpubs with her family top the list.