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O'Leary Trail Loop - IMBA EPIC

 4.9 (22)
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19.7 Miles 31.7 Kilometers



4,170' 1,271 m


-5,502' -1,677 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (23°)

5,100' 1,554 m


1,239' 378 m


Shared By Chris Bernhardt



Getting forecast...

Endless backcountry adventure with narrow trail and a stellar final descent.

Chris Bernhardt

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-

Open mid-spring through late fall. Check with locals for snow conditions and removal of downed trees.


This ride is the burly, backcountry brother to the nearby and more famous McKenzie River Trail (MRT). While the MRT offers easily accessible singletrack, the O'Leary Trail Loop serves up endless backcountry adventure with narrow trail hurtling into tight switchbacks, rock walls built decades ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, throttling climbs, and a final descent that makes you forget the pain.

Need to Know

Although both trailheads are accessible by vehicle, a good way to link the two is to ride from the Kings Castle trailhead east on King Road/National Forest Road #2639, and then climb south on National Forest Road #1993 to the Olallie North trailhead. Starting the ride from nearby McKenzie Bridge offers restrooms, parking, and food/beverages. Going big with this route adds several pavement and gravel road miles, but more importantly puts the total climbing near 6,000 vertical feet of leg-searing ascending. Ah, but the payback....

This ride requires fitness, skill, and the ability to keep your cool in a remote, backcountry setting. If you break your ankle in the middle of this ride youll be spending the night before search-and-rescue can come retrieve you for your heli lift. Dont do this ride alone and choose your crew carefully.


From the Olallie North trailhead on National Forest Road #1993 head south on Trail #3529. The climbing starts immediately; get used to it. After what seems like too long surrounded by tall trees and leafy rhododendrons the trail will cross National Forest Road #340, and you can take solace that youre about halfway up the mountain.

Not too far past the road, turn right onto Trail #3321 and out towards the ridge. The landscape changes and the trail gets narrower, more rugged, and rocky. Youll pass the high point next to McLennan Mountain but wont get a break until youve switchbacked up to Macduff Mountain. Stop here, scramble up the scree slope, and savor the view of the Cascades.

The trail finally heads downward, and with a vengeance. The vertical peels off the altimeter as wildflowers and views fly by, but dont take your eyes off the tread for a moment because the only predictable part of the ride is that it is unpredictable. Sharp turns, rocks, bear grass obscuring the trail, and nonchalant porcupines are standard fare.

After passing a large segment of rock retaining wall that was built during the Great Depression the trail crosses National Forest Road #411; dont miss the barely discernible tread as it heads back up the hill on the right side of the road. The trail again takes a nosedive on an old-school descent that will have you wondering how people ever rode mountain bikes before disc brakes and dropper posts.

After crossing National Forest Road #411 for a third and final time keep your eyes peeled for the intersection with Trail #3506, which will sneak by as you float through the emerald woods. Turn right and head past eight-foot diameter Douglas fir trees while catching a break along this rolling segment before climbing to the intersection with Trail #4362.

Payback time. Ingest some sugar, shake the lactic acid from your legs, and get your flow on as you twist though a moss-encrusted forest on a trail that looks like it was tailor made for your weary body. Once youve whooped and hollered one last time at Kings Castle trailhead it is time to roll into McKenzie Bridge and eat a large meal of gluten, dairy, and meat, because youve earned it.

History & Background

The Civilian Conservation Corps built part of this trail in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Also make sure to check out the bronze plaque at the top of Macduff Mountain that commemorates Nelson F. Macduff who was an early forest supervisor.


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Your Check-Ins


Nov 10, 2018
Ryan L.
Aug 2, 2018
Sandra Rupp
horse creek street-olallie trailhead- olallie trail- going in to o‘leary trail- down into king castle and at the th take a right and return to car 25mi
Jun 21, 2018
Dan Dickinson
Truly Epic! Trails in great shape right now 20mi — 4h 20m
Jun 16, 2018
DeWayne Weaver
Killer climb, exciting descent. Lots of exposure on both! 19mi — 6h 00m
Jul 23, 2017
Matt B
26mi — 5h 45m
Jul 1, 2017
Smallhammer .
Oct 29, 2016
Rémy Pieron
Amazing! Thank you for the hard work building this trail. Grueling climb. It worth every pedal stroke. 18.9mi
Oct 2, 2016
Leslie Kehmeier
Last day of the 2016 Trans-Cascadia. Frozen snow pelts at the top - first taste of fall/winter. Amazing trail!

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Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 22 votes


  4.9 from 22 votes
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in Oregon


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23,973 Since Jul 11, 2013
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Anonymous User
Anonymous User  
Cog Wild is definitely sending people this way, which is great! We were awarded a grant to make a lot of improvements so we're working w/our local Forest Service, DOD, GOATS and COTA to make the needed improvements. Northwest Youth Corps is out as of late June working on this trail, so expect to see some flagging and possible re-routes this year and next. Jun 27, 2015
Dan Dickinson
Dan Dickinson   Bellingham
Incredible Ride! Conditions are perfect right now. Thanks to the good folks at Horse Creek Lodge, I was able to start riding at Horse Pasture, so still alot of climbing, but I had some energy left for the 5000+ vert down, which was truly amazing! Fast, tight single-track, Alpine meadows, Big views, Tight techy switchbacks with exposure, Giant trees, and a Fast, flowy payoff at the end with King-Castle. May be my best ride ever :) Jun 21, 2018
This trail is just spectacular. Probably the most physically demanding trail I've ever ridden with long stretches of 18% grade. I'll admit that I did some pushing to keep my heart rate in check. We rode this trail and the McKenzie River Trail in less than 24 hours and my body felt absolutely beat. Huge credit to the trail maintainers who keep this backcountry trail in stellar condition. Aug 6, 2018

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