The Old Cascade Crest is one of Oregon’s most remote and raw places to Mountain Bike, located in the Northern Sector of the Willamette National Forest. Nestled right next to the Middle Santiam Wilderness, the OCC in total is a 42 mile backcountry lollipop just an hour from Bend Oregon. This area was site of the 2017 Trans-Cascadia MTB race, split in half, we ride the Old Cascades Crest South on Saturday and Old Cascades Crest North on Sunday. These two days are the best combination of riding in this area.
OCC North is a beautiful day on the bike, exploring the actual Old Crest of the Cascades, the highest point of the Cascade Mountain Range some 1 million years ago. We’ll begin our day by getting dropped off near Scar Mountain. We’ll climb our way to the jagged high point and an outstanding view of an outstanding slice of the Cascade Mountain Range. From here we meander up and down the ridgeline until we get to our junction for the Gordon Peak Trail.
From this junction we begin Gordon Peak trail and have a nice gradual descent as we begin, allowing for some playful riding a nice warmup for our massive descent to the valley floor. The Gordon Peak trail is unique as it shares a wilderness boundary line and offers a remote and pristine trail experience, Big old growth trees and copious amounts of Duff. This side of the system is a place not many people visit. At the valley floor, we’ll take off our shoes and ford pyramid creek, a shallow but wide crossing that’ll cool the feet. We’ll hop back on our bike for a ride back up to our shuttle pick up. We have the choice along the way to checkout one of our favorite swimming holes, and a solid 30 foot diving board for those brave enough to walk the plank. At our shuttle pick up, we’ll have our cooler with food and beverages and we can replenish the system for our last and final piece of the ride up and over Crescent Mountain.
From lunch we get a nice little shuttle bump to skip some of the climb to our summit of Crescent Mountain. We have a solid hour to hour and a half climb to get to our high point, an old fire lookout with remnants from generations of Cascade Mountain Adventurers. From here, we’ll descend all the way down the South Side of Crescent, traveling through meadows and old growth trees and a strip of dirt so inspiring it makes you tear up. Some high fives and a Drink, we’ll discuss the day and remember how Good It was! A good way to experience this area is by riding both North and South on this weekend. It’s a solid two days of riding and a great way to see this radical area.
with The Old Cascades Crest
This was a huge project during the summer of 2017 for Trans-Cascadia the event, to uncover some of Oregons Hidden Trail Gold. To read more about Trans-Cascadia’s collaboration with the community and how this ride came to be, check out this write up from Santa Cruz Bicycles.
The Old Cascade Crest was the crest of the Old Cascades around a million years ago. The new Cascade Crest is made up of all of the volcanos we see in today’s backdrop, like Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Bacheor and Mt. Hood. Kinda cool to think this was the high point of the Cascades at one time, and now we’re riding it.
The trail system was constructed between 1930 and 1950, and was first built by the CCC and later completed by the USFS. These trails were originally created as a transportation network between fire towers; fire towers were on most peaks in the Old Cascade Crest Network. These trails were also used for animal grazing and gold mining at one point. What’s now super remote and feels really deep, once had thousands of people living there mining for gold. It’s still one of the most active hobby mining areas in the Willamette.
The network was finished as recent as the mid 90’s where the USFS connected all of these trails. The Three Pyramids, North Crescent and South Pyramid Creek Trail were all built or re-discovered in the mid 90’s, and those 3 trails make the network connected. The South Pyramid Creek Trail was an old Native American Pathway that was discovered in the process of the trails development…. you can just imagine the history in this area and how many different people have used it throughout history. It’s been dormant for the past 20 years, with very little use… and now it’s your turn to see what it’s all about.