MTB Project Logo

The Grande Descent: Mt Emily Recreation Area

 5.0 (2)

Longest vertical descent within MERA on 100% singletrack, fast technical trails, and great views.

Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key







5,207' 1,587 m


3,118' 950 m


279' 85 m


2,289' 698 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Allowed

Features Drops/Jumps · Views

Good improved gravel road, Owsley Canyon Rd, to Owsley Canyon Trailhead. If you shuttle, access via Mt Emily Rd requires an SUV (Subaru, or similar). MTB access as described below. No camping at Owsley Canyon Trailhead--only at Fox Hill Trailhead.


The Grande Descent includes MERA's fastest and most technical trails---exposure, jumps, berms, short punchy climbs and short very fast descents; and includes the following MERA Trails (listed in the order of descending): Ridgeline Trail #320, upper Doing Time Trail #789, Caffeine Trail #716, MERA Loop Trail #724 upper leg, Whoopsy Doo Trail #745, MERA Loop Trail #724 lower leg, Pebbles Trail #738 (or Skills Trail #727)—ends at Upper Igo Trailhead—climb up Lower Hotshot Trail #725 to MERA Loop Trail #724 and return to Owsley Canyon TH.

Total Length in miles from start of the Grande Descent to the following:
• Starting and ending at Owsley Canyon Trailhead 7.9
• Starting and ending at Upper Igo Traihead 6.2

Total descent from start of Grande Descent to Upper Igo Trailhead: 2,305 ft.

Need to Know

Picnic tables and restrooms are only provided at the Owsley Canyon Trailhead, which is the preferred start location. Parking is limited at Upper Igo TH and the access road is narrow and rocky.

Only Ridgeline Trail #320 is a directional downhill-only trail. All other trails are bi-directional and open to hikers, equestrians, and trail runners. Please YIELD to Uphill Traffic! AND KEEP SINGLETRACK SINGLE! Please respect the trailbuilders, donors and maintenance slaves: do not ride trails if you're leaving holes/dents in the trail (equestrians) or ruts (bicyclists).


Access via the Owsley Canyon Trailhead (preferred due to parking area and restrooms).

The ascent:

From Owsley Canyon Trailhead, ride Honor Roll Trail for 0.25 miles until it intersects Red Apple Trail #700 and go north. At Intersection 1* (see MERA Map) take the MERA Loop Trail #724. Go 0.6 miles until you come to Intersection 3*—go left, up a short steep climb and cross the Archery Range Extension Road #600. Go 0.9 miles on the MERA Loop Trail #724 until you come to Intersection 4.*

Take Slammer Trail #765 for 1.9 miles until you come to Doing Time Trail #789--go left for 0.1 miles to Intersection 24*: Depends Trail #775. Ride up Depends Trail #775 for 2.0 miles until you come to Intersection 23* Mt Emily Road #202. Go through the blue gate and then turn right on the Mt Emily Road #202—an improved, but rocky doubletrack road (Shuttle Route).

Ride up the Mt Emily Road #202 for 1.3 miles to Intersection 22*: start of Caffeine Trail #716 and also the shared route (for about 0.3 miles) of Doing Time Trail #789 (you'll end up here on the descent). Ride up Mt Emily Road #202 for another 1.1 miles to Intersection 20*: start of The Grande Descent Ride. Ridgeline Trail #320/Doing Time Trail #789 at the Grande Overlook.

The Grande Descent: (see the individual trail descriptions already posted on the MTB Project mobile app.)

Starting at Intersection 20*, ride south out Ridgeline Trail #320 for 0.6 miles—a downhill directional trail. Ridgeline Trail #320 was built by the Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club in 2007, and is shared with Class 3 motorized users (dirtbikes/motorcycles).

At 0.6 miles you come to Intersection 21*: Ridgeline Trail #320 and Doing Time Trail #789, take the sharp left on Doing Time Trail #789, and prepare for MERA's most technical downhill run--and enjoy the steep drop in at Ricks Rock. Continue on Doing Time Trail #789 until you come to Intersection 22*.

Descend Caffeine Trail #716 for 0.3 miles until you come to a sharp left corner—Caffeine Trail goes left, Doing Time Trail goes right (pick your experience), go left on Caffeine Trail for 3 miles to Intersection 5*: go right on the MERA Loop Trail #724 for 0.2 miles until you come to the Whoopsy Doo Trail #745: go left. Ride down Whoopsy Doo Trail for 0.8 miles until you come to Intersection 9*: MERA Loop 724 junction--go right.

Ride MERA Loop Trail #745 for 0.6 miles until you come to Pebbles Trail #738--go left. Take Pebbles Trail #738 for 1 mile until you come to Upper Igo Trailhead---the end of the Grande Descent….Congratulations!

From the Upper Igo Trailhead, ride up Hotshot Trail #725 until you come to Intersection 2*: MERA Loop Trail #745. Go left to Intersection 1*: go south on Red Apple Trail #700 to the Owsley Canyon Trailhead.

Footnote* All main intersections on MERA trails have a unique number as shown on the MERA map and on the Carsonite Posts. Pay attention to these.

History & Background

The Mt Emily Recreation Coalition, a coalition of motorized and non-motorized users, took the lead role in working with Union County to find funding to purchase the Mt Emily Recreation Area in 2009. MERA includes almost 4,000 acres of timber and rangeland, more than 45 miles of non-motorized singletrack trails, and twice this many miles of motorized trails.

The Blue Mtn Singletrack Trails Club, working in conjunction with Union County Parks Dept., have built almost all of the singletrack non-motorized trails on MERA. Enjoy these public lands!


Shared By:

bart barlow

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes


  5.0 from 2 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in Oregon


6 Views Last Month
1,162 Since Dec 18, 2019



The start of the Grande Descent Featured Ride on Ridgeline Trail 320
Dec 17, 2019 near La Grande, OR
Lower Skills Slallllllllommmmm/jump line YEAH!
Dec 1, 2019 near La Grande, OR
Ed droppping in at RICKS ROCK on Upper Doing Time Trail
Dec 17, 2019 near La Grande, OR
Gravity begins in pull down Ridgeline Trail 320...
Dec 12, 2019 near La Grande, OR
Drafting the Dog while descending Caffeine Trail
Dec 1, 2019 near La Grande, OR
Top of Slammer
Jul 31, 2020 near La Grande, OR



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In