Day 3: Alpine Trail
Length: 25.6 km
Grunting Up: 662 M
Grinning Down: 1,632 M
Our last day in Oakridge saw us take on the reputed “crown jewel” of the area’s trail system: Alpine Trail. According to BTrails.com:
Alpine is a meaty ride that constantly serves up unbeatable fun, quad quaking climbs, and the verdant beauty of the Cascades…
This seemingly endless singletrack bobs and weaves through magnificent old growth forests, and winds though carpets of leafy vegetation and brilliant wildflowers. Swift and exhausting, swoopy and mesmerizing, Alpine makes you wish that every trail was this fun and every ride was this memorable.
We took Randy up on his offer to shuttle us to the top of Alpine, and used the resulting extra time (and energy) to do a side trail up the Tire Mountain connector trail. This added a few more “quad quaking climbs” (not really); some extra”magnificent old growth” (kinda) and some bonus views of the”verdant beauty of the the Cascades” (what does verdant mean anyway?).
Alpine truly is a stunning trail… it weaves through alpine meadows, across exposed ridges, and deep into pacific northwest old growth forest. The downhills are really, really fun… the steepest sections generally having the trail swooping between massive old trees. The best part is that beside each tree, the slight lift of the associated root mat provided a little kicker that allowed you to grab some air as you screamed past.
After around 20 km of climbing up or speeding down (mostly the latter), I said to Naomi that the only thing this trail was missing was a good hammer section, where it wasn’t too steep and you could slam on the pedals (rather than drag on the breaks) as you sped through the forest. As soon as I mentioned it, the trail eased up and… as if ordered up… I hammered away for the last 5 km or so.
We headed back to the bike shop to return the rental (reluctantly on Naomi’s part) and to buy myself a set of new brake pads (seriously)… and then after another stop at the Local 180, Naomi and I took advantage of another of Oakridge’s charms… an evening soak in one of of a host of undeveloped hot-springs around town. From there, we left town and headed west.