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McKenzie River Trail (MRT)

 4.6 (136)

25.4 Miles 41.0 Kilometers


100%

Singletrack

488' 149 m

Ascent

-2,197' -670 m

Descent

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

16%

Max Grade (9°)

3,147' 959 m

High

1,430' 436 m

Low

Shared By Katy Ryan

Conditions


All Clear 62 days ago
Mostly Dry History

Getting forecast...

Rivers, bridges, lush terrain, waterfalls, blue pools, and technical riding.

Katy Ryan

Dogs Off-leash

Features -none-

Overview

The MRT is 20+ miles of flowing singletrack, ideally located among old growth forest, waterfalls,mosses, ferns and brilliant blue pools of water. It is a long, mostly downhill and a a super fun spin. Of course, it wouldn't be the perfect trail without the sharp volcanic rock technical sections. The upper MRT has most of the technical, while from Trail Bridge Campground it is fairly smooth.

Need to Know

The McKenzie River is one of the coldest in the US. Don't jump in from any cliff, it is deadly. The volcanic rock is pretty slick when wet.

Horse Creek Lodge & Outfitters provides shuttles for hikers and bikers on the McKenzie River Trail and O'Leary Trail, and they rent and repair bikes. More information can be found on their website or by calling 541-822-3243.

Description

The MRT is often described as the #1 trail in the US. It is a stunningly beautiful, mostly downhill trail, but it is an all day ride, even if you are fit. Generally ridden as a shuttle, but the uber fit and motivated could ride it back (that's crazy though).

The technical is not concentrated in one area, which makes it hard to bypass. Most everyone will walk some of the sections. If you aren't willing to walk, at least scout some of them out, before you need to walk out with a broken arm. There are three main areas of technical in the upper third section of the MRT: east side of Clear Lake, after Sahalie Falls, and after Tamolitch Falls.

From the start, you'll ride a few miles of moderate singeltrack. At Clear Lake you can continue the easy-moderate trail on the westside, or opt for the highly technical section on the east side (a sunny, sweltering hot, sharp lava rock, tube eating option if you like that kind of adventure...credit to Mark for that). After the lake, it's back to nice flow.

Technical resumes after Sahalie Falls, and again below Tamolitch Falls. If you don't care to ride the volcanic rock, you need to walk it, there are no ride-arounds.
After you encounter Trail Bridge Campground, the riding is fairly smooth again.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Nov 15, 2018
Peter Rudolph
Too cold to finish. Amazing trail 15mi
Oct 19, 2018
Troy Mandery
Oct 19, 2018
Cdilis Melis
Sswc bend
Oct 7, 2018
Colleen Lyon
Sep 22, 2018
Chris Sarot
Sep 22, 2018
Daniel Kikkert
25.4mi
Sep 19, 2018
Ann Forster
Sep 17, 2018
Andy Mullins
27.8mi — 5h 30m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 136 votes

#13

Overall
  4.6 from 136 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
15%
3 Star
7%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
1%
Rankings

#1

in Oregon

#13

Overall
1,394 Views Last Month
87,588 Since Jun 9, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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12%
62%
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Photos

Skip the lava to the left around clear lake! I have ridden this trail many times it is on of my absolute favorites. But keep in mind after clear lake it gets technical, advanced technical, not intermediate. It is a old school mtb trail, it's not one of these made for bikes free ride trails. That said it's wicked fun technical then fast and flowy with amazing scenery come to be challenged. Jul 2, 2017
Dan Dickinson
Bellingham
Dan Dickinson   Bellingham
Amazing as advertised. Lots of pedaling, but once you get into the flow of the trail, along with the river and the ancient trees, it can be a truly transcendent experience! Thanks to Horse Creek Lodge it was all a down-river trip, and the stay there was absolutely peaceful. Great food & beer nearby at McKenzie General Store as well! Jun 21, 2018
Dylan McDonald
Salem, OR
Dylan McDonald   Salem, OR
4-5 hour ride alongside a gorgeous river on some mildly un-challenging single track. The top steeper areas have you pedalling while making technical turns in this berm-less trail. You get some speed but it’s no free ride trail. But that’s not why you’re here. It’s not much of a descent on the lower portions but the tightness of the trail means you’re never wasting energy. Pedal pedal dodge a tree and repeat. There are some fun sections that are reminiscent of a less blown-out Alpine, then the trail becomes more of an XC ride which isn’t a bad thing. You fall into a zen of linking together turns and avoiding roots. The scenery does in fact make it worth it though as the trail connects to so many amazing viewpoints of crystal clear water and rocky dramatic river canyon. I thought I knew clear water from Lyons but this river is special - bright green moss under the water doesn’t seem distorted at all. It looks almost like... a video game. I wish I had brought more snacks and maybe even a teapot because the amount of good places to relax outnumbered the snacks I carry. The riding quality itself seems to gradually decrease as the trail gets more flat and you might find yourself wanting it to be over already around mile 20 but by that point you’re so close to being done, who cares? Waiting at Horse Creek is a nice selection of free beers and a wash station for your bike. I didn’t try the showers but they are there. Horse creek provides such a nice come down from the whole ride, with a quiet and secluded porch. The people who run the shuttle are beyond friendly. Wait for a weekend when you’re too drained to grind out a free ride climb but want some adventure and you’ll get plenty of it. It also strikes me as a great place to go if you are just getting into the sport, are reasonably fit, but don’t quite feel like a downhill screamer at the time. Even though I usually ride free ride trails I just found something endearing and special about this ride. It’s definitely worth doing, and I feel like I’ll have to revisit it later and see if I can beat my time. Horse creek rules. Free beer. Enough said Oct 7, 2018

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