2 Day Bikepacking Trip – The McKenzie River Trail+
After much delay, Oregon finally gave its on-loan land-occupiers a weekend respite from the barrage of 42-degrees-and-raining weather we’ve experienced for the past 3 months and, as one of the fortunate few who had planned a weekend outing in advance, I lucked out with some much-needed sunny weather while out on the trails, and my vitamin D-deprived skin would agree.
My friend Andrew and I decided to revisit the McKenzie River Trail, partly because it posits some of the most premier singletrack in the northwest, but also because it is one of the few trails that is maintained year-round – at least the first half of it – so we were guaranteed fewer downed trees and hike-a-bikes than many other trails that have suffered from the harsh winter weather this year. Here was our intended route:
Want more details, or the GPX version of this map? Click here.
The ride did not go completely according to plan. We had hoped to add a bit to the ride by climbing to the top of Sand Mountain, which would have added 16 miles to the ride and about 1,500 vertical feet of climbing. Unfortunately, the copious amounts of snow on the trail had different plans entirely, but we didn’t complain. Compared to our first experience on this trail (which was coincidentally one of the first bikepacking trips we ever did together – check it out here.), this one was a cakewalk, and who can complain about getting to share in the simple pleasures of a weekend spent in the woods with a friend? Not us, that’s for sure. What follows is a picture blog of our adventure this weekend. Enjoy!
Arrived in style at McKenzie Bridge Campground and had the entire campground to ourselves.
A quick tent setup…
And then it was time to celebrate the start of our weekend in the woods.
Couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring pee spot than the one our campsite provided.
No cowboy coffee for me. This is the real thing.
Soaking in the morning at our own personal campground.
The trail was pristine for most of the ride, with only a few mud spots and puddles littered throughout the 23 miles of trail.
My DIY framebag mostly fits on my new Why S7, but I’m going to have to tweak some things to make it reliable enough for the Colorado Trail this summer.
One of the 14 million bridges along the trail.
The tral opens up to the roaring McKenzie River too many times to count, but right now the river is almost at its peak flow.
Navigating the switchbacks on the trail.
Red bridge… ok, that’s enough bridges.
There were a couple nasty eroded sections on the trail. We walked this one.
The waterfalls were downright furious, pounding water down into the McKenzie and rushing it west towards Eugene, where it joins with the Willamette River.
Our bikes anxiously awaited our return from the waterfalls.
Intermittent snow became an issue around mile 18 on the trail. We had to do a lot of short hike-a-bikes before meeting up with highway 126, and then had to do a magical little highway ride/embankment jump/off-trail scramble to get to non-snowy trails and set up camp at Clear Lake.
I wasn’t quite ready to call it a day when we got to Clear Lake, so as Andrew gathered firewood and had some good ol’ alone time, I took off once again in an attempt to maybe reach the top of Sandy Mountain, but at least make it around the lake.
Beautiful views abounded, but so did large snow mounds throughout shaded parts of the trail, and it was after about a mile of hike-a-bike that I knew my dream of reaching Sandy Mountain was foiled, and I’d have to settle for the circumnavigation of the lake.
The bikes earned a bit of downtime as well.
Andrew and I fought to make fire for about an hour, but eventually gave up on it. This picture was taken after I had settled on a cold can of vegetarian chili and fritos burrito, while Andrew carried on the fight to no avail.
The last of the light on the lake.
Last view of Clear Lake.
Last view of one of the many waterfalls along the upper portion of the trail.
Last large mud puddle splash.
And last warning that we could be overcome by a flash flood.
Of course no trip is complete without one mongo beer.
And one veggie burger with a double-portion of hashbrowns at no extra charge. Thanks Takoda’s Restaurant!