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.
We begin by our day on bike from the S. Crescent Trailhead. It’s a stout climb to the top of Crescent, but we’ll take it slow as we have two big climbs on the day. This can take up to 1.5 hours and as little as 1hr to the top. There is a great lookout and in front of us, and incredible descent. We’ll snack up and then hop on our bikes. The North Crescent descent is long and playful. Not many people ride here so the trail quality is high, lots of duff and the perfect soil. We’ll make our way down, crossing through forest, then through patches of thick rhododendron and back through old growth forest. We’ll eventually hit our low point with a creek crossing and a short pedal to our van and our lunch.
We can take the time we need to relax and enjoy the day, for some, this halfway point may be enough and we have the opportunity for a mid point return to the car. For those who push on, we’ll hop on bikes from the van and continue on trail towards the 3 pyramids. The trail to get to the beginning of our climb up S. Pyramid is fun and undulating, bouts of fun descending and some punchy climbs. We’ll make our way to S Pyramid Trail and head up. This is our second big climb, we have another 1-1.5 hours of bike/hike a bike. We ascend adjacent to a glacial cirque and up a radical old trail. It’s steep and technical, but its beautiful and raw, and in the spring flower bloom, the place to be in Oregon. We’ll make our way to our high point, high five, and get ready for N Pyramid. Maybe the most coveted of the descents in the Old Cascades Crest, certainly one of best. It’s a long decent down perfect PNW backcountry trail with some fun switchbacks, long stretches of hold er open and on trail features you can jib and jump off. At the bottom, we’ll cross a lower creek and then a short climb back to the shuttle van and a 25 minute ride back to our cars. End of day, and how about that ride! Come on out and explore Oregons Backcountry at the Old Cascades Crest!
with The Old Cascades Crest
This was a huge project during the summer of 2017 to uncover some of Oregons Hidden Trail Gold. To read more about our collaboration with our 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.