This ride was featured on day 4 of the 2016 Trans-Cascadia Mountain Bike Race, a 22 mile single-track loop with an intense backcountry feel. We’ll be riding the Ollalie, O’leary, Kings Castle Loop… and the potential for a secret bonus loop. We start our day with a shuttle to Horsepasture Mountain Trail Head where we hop on beautiful ridgeline singletrack for a good part of our day, with fun little descents and popper climbs to keep you happy. We eventually make our way to McDuff Mountain where we find ourselves eating lunch at the tippy top overlooking a huge 2,500 foot decent in front of us. We saddle up and make our way down this massive descent to castle rock trail that provides a nice traverse over to our final descent of the day down Kings Castle. Kings Castle is a long and playful decent down to the bottom of the valley floor. Before you leave the McKenzie River Valley. don’t forget to check out the Blue Pools, the Hot Springs and if you’re staying in the area, hit up our friends Gary and Alyssa at the Horse Creek Lodge. They have a beautiful property with cozy cottages, room to park the van, tent camp, or find a nice hot outdoor shower.
Distance (per day)
Estimated Mileage: 22 Miles
Day Trip Includes:
- Guided tour of one of the Best Rides in the PNW
- Shuttles to the start of our ride and to finish our ride
Shuttle Departs: 10AM
Horse Creek Lodge: 56228 Delta Dr, Blue River, OR 97413
McKenzie Bridge, ORMonday 53°FTuesday 37°FWednesday 36°FThursday 31°FFriday 40°F
History of the
McKenzie River Trails
For about 8,000 years, the McKenzie River has been home to Native Americans. In more recent history, Kalapuya and Molala tribes lived nomadically in the summer and spent winters in the lower valley. This way of life continued until the mid-19th century, when many natives died of disease or were relocated to reservations.
The first recorded exploration of the river occurred in the spring of 1812, when the Pacific Fur Company reached the McKenzie via the Willamette River, as part of a larger exploration led by Donald McKenzie. The company had established a post in 1811 at Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River for the Astor Expedition. McKenzie, the following spring, formed a party to explore the Willamette River. The party found a large tributary of the Willamette River and named it after McKenzie. However, much of the McKenzie River remained largely unvisited by white settlers and explorers until October 1853, when a group of Oregon Trail settlers became lost trying to cross the Cascades into the Willamette Valley via the Elliott Cutoff.
In 1910, travelers completed the first automobile crossing over McKenzie Pass. However, crossing along the river was limited to summer because winter conditions closed the pass. Year-round travel was not possible until 1960, with the completion of a road over Santiam Pass.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built part of this trail in the 1930s during the Great Depression and today we get to explore it on our mountain bikes. It’s not without great feeling of respect and gratitude for being able to share this special place with friends and family today.