“Endless singletrack through old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest
— Leslie Kehmeier
If you like endless singletrack through old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, then North Umpqua is for you. The route is a long-distance adventure best ridden in sections or over the course of multiple days with a support vehicle. For the hearty and fit, the route can be done in two days. For those who have the time, 4-5 days is very enjoyable.
This IMBA Epic route is located near the southern terminus of the mighty Cascade Range and features a dramatic landscape following the North Umpqua River.
Need to Know
Campgrounds with facilities are plentiful along the route - one reason to make this a multi-day adventure. Supplies can be picked up along the way as needed. There are 10 major trailheads that provide access to the trail.
Anglers - don't forget your rod and reel. There are plenty of excellent opportunities to get in the river and fish after an awesome day of riding.
The North Umpqua is broken down into sections, no more than 16 miles in length. The trail can be ridden in either direction. To go upriver start at the Swiftwater Trailhead. To go downriver start at the Kelsay Valley Trailhead. Downriver is a mostly downhill version of the trail and perhaps the most fun.
White Mule to Kelsay Valley
The eastern most (bicycle friendly) segment of the North Umpqua, travels on the lower slopes of Bunker Hill, above Lemolo Lake. Not as lush as other parts, this section alternates between spruce, fir and pine forests and open meadows.
The campground at Lemolo Lake is a great place to start/end your North Umqpua adventure.
Toketee to White Mule
This part of the North Umpqua has perhaps the most famous section, Dread and Terror. This has more to do with the ridge south of the trail, not what's encountered along the way. Hanging gardens with water cascading down them is a better way to describe what riders see as the pedal along lush cliffs above the river.
Be sure to stop at the Umqpua Hot Springs along this section. Leave your bike at the parking area and walk across the river to soak some of the miles off your legs.
Calf Creek to Toketee
Big climbs, long descents and moss covered boulders the size of Volkswagons is the best way to describe the North Umpqua from Calf Creek to Toketee. Along the way, riders will also encounter Toketee Falls, a double cascade of 40 and 80 feet.
From Soda Springs to Toketee you'll ride the Deer Leap segment which has a big climb and descent on either end. The grind is worth the effort as the downhills are some of the best along the entire route.
Soda Springs and Marsters trailheads also provide access to this section.
Mott to Calf Creek
The start and finish of this segment of the North Umpqua is like night and day. The ride begins in lush pines and ferns with moderate grades. Approaching the other end takes you into another world with some steep climbs and descents. The last bit of of this section travels through a burn area from the 2002 Apple Fire. This event has created open and exposed views, revealing the rugged skeleton of this long-distance trail.
This section includes access from the Panther Trailhead.
Swiftwater to Mott
The Swiftwater to Mott section of the North Umpqua Trail features a host of different experiences. Riders will encounter mostly tight singletrack that challenges riders with steep climbs and descents through the lush ferns of the Pacific Northwest. The first few miles of the trail is fairly wide and accessible to a variety of users. Be prepared to see a lot of people at the beginning of this section.
The trail between Wright Creek and Mott Bridge is heavily used by anglers so beware of other trail users. An alternative for this section is the Riverview Trail located on the opposite side of the river. It's a 6 mile segment that can be accessed from Mott Bridge and Bogus Creek Campground.
This section also includes access from Wright Creek Trailhead.
History & Background
Local trail advocates first envisioned the North Umpqua Trail in the 1970s. Construction began in 1978 and was completed in 1997 through the cooperative efforts of many dedicated volunteers, the Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg District Bureau of Land Management, and Douglas County Parks Department.