I had heard about the Timberline-to-Town Trail at Mount Hood but hadn’t thought much of it. I sure changed my mind after riding it with Dave, my four grandsons, and a few others on Monday.
Think 16 miles of high-elevation single-track. We started at the 6,000 foot level and ended up at about 1,500. Yes, we are talking 4,500 feet of descent in those 16 miles.
We hit the sweet spot and made it from Kelso to Rhododendron in just 90 minutes. For those of you in the Portland-Vancouver, it is incredibly close. You park in Rhododendron. Right side, about 100 yards down the hill from the Dairy Queen. For $2, the Mount Hood Express will haul you and your bike to Timberline, where the trail begins.
The trail reminded me of some of the good stuff in Bend. I was surprised that dirt work had been done in places to add some excellent berms. It was a little dusty but not bad.
My grandsons are 10, 11, 12, and 15. They have trail experience but I was glad I waited until this year to take them on this one. There is quite a bit of rock and loose stuff. Plenty of opportunities for carnage. I was really pleased with the boys. They all seemed to grasp the idea that when you are rolling downhill through rock, the best option is to look ahead, pick a line, and commit. They got the hang of it and started hauling.
There are a couple of short climbs at about the 10-mile mark, but they are no big deal.
Just a heads-up that, regardless of what you’ve heard, this isn’t a great trail for breaking in beginners. We left right before a group of four who looked pretty fit and were in their forties. Problem was that they had rental bikes with fatty seats and kick-stands. Always a bad omen. They finished almost two hours after we got back. I’m guessing there was some angst along the way.
Schedule for the Mount Hood Express is here.
I received suggestions for add-ons from Joe VanLeuven, Adam Faren, and Nathan Frechen.
Joe: “If you want to make an epic out of this you start from the Pioneer Bridal Trail trailhead and ride the loop up to the back side of Ski Bowl, up to and around. See route here. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/23812826 Camp Creek is a nice place to camp and you can make a weekend out of it by hitting Sandy Ridge on Sunday! Also, starting and finishing at Camp Creek is not a bad idea – the lower part of the Bridal Trail gets pretty rocky.”
Adam: “We usually ride down to the way everyone goes and loop in Cross Town twice by pedaling up the road to the top of Govy, then cutting back in to the start of Cross Town. It ends up being about 22 miles & 1000 ft of climbing. Basically the climb you did you do it twice. The ride is much better and more fun with a little moisture in the ground. I plan on being up there a bunch with the two main trail guys up there Todd Olsen and Joel Armstrong this fall. Really that part of Oregon is FULL of good riding.”
Nathan: “You can park at Toll Gate trailhead, ride up Pioneer Bridle a bit, cut over to Still Creek Road on singletrack, ride up Still Creek dirt road, then back down Pioneer Bridle. Super chill dirt road. Just an option if you wanted to get some climbing in. Info at https://ridewithgps.com/trips/15142697”
Sidebar – I thought we’d get on the bus with ease if we went on a Monday. That wasn’t the case. The bus starts picking people up in Sandy. By the time it reached us, the bus and the bike rack were about half full. We were an hour early and were way ahead of everyone else.
When the bus stopped, the other dozen or so people raced to get their bikes on the carrier. We had five kids who needed help so we were left three spaces short. Usually, I let Dave have the honor of losing control, but I took the lead this time.
I told the bus driver – who was a good guy and trying to be a mediator – that if there wasn’t room for us, other people were going to be coming off the bus. It’s possible I might have also used an expletive. He became very creative and suddenly there was room for our bikes. Happy day.