Portland, Oregon might be better known for its unique and quirky aesthetic than its proximity to great mountain biking, but whether you’re looking for a gluten free donut with a bird on it, or miles of world-class singletrack, Portland delivers. Although Portland has all the amenities of a big city, it’s surrounded by great riding areas, close enough to the city center to sneak an afternoon ride in, but with enough variety to spend an adventurous weekend exploring. It’s also home to great bike shops that can handle any gear, parts, or bike repair needs. Here are a few of our recommendations for anyone looking to ride their mountain bikes in Portland — Sandy Ridge, Ape Canyon, Post Canyon, and Forest Park.
While Sandy Ridge might be the most popular trail area near Portland, it’s for good reason. It’s home to a wide variety of mountain bike specific trails, with something for everyone. So no matter if you’re a beginner still getting your wheels under you, a flow-trail aficionado, or a hard-core singletrack slayer, there’s something for everyone at Sandy Ridge.
For intermediate riders looking for a fun, flowy ride, Hide-n-Seek is a great place to start. This three mile trail doesn’t have any really challenging sections, but has a lot of optional lines and jumps that become more fun as you warm up and learn the trail. For riders looking for a shorter, more technical ride, Follow the Leader is an expert level trail with a wide variety of technical sections to challenge more advanced riders. No matter what you ride at Sandy Ridge, the trails are well constructed, and loop near a central parking area, so it’s easy to ride a wide variety of trails.
For riders less interested in a dense trail network, who are looking to get out and explore on a longer ride, Ape Canyon is a great place to start. This ride takes place in one of the more unique parts of the Pacific Northwest. The trail is near Mount St Helens, the volcano that erupted in 1980. The whole area surrounding the mountain is still recovering from that eruption, so in many areas the ash and lack of vegetation give the impression that you’re riding on the moon. This is a more challenging, technical ride, with more elevation gain, but it’s typically done as an out-and-back. Because the trail climbs from the parking area, you can decide to bail, and enjoy the fast descent back to the car at any point. More adventurous riders can tack on the Plains of Abraham trail for more mileage and incredible views.
Post Canyon is located a little way out of Portland in the shadow of Mount Hood. Like Sandy Ridge, this trail network offers a huge variety of trails, with something for everyone. However, it also offers many downhill shuttle rides, and over 38 miles of singletrack. No matter what your ultimate day of mountain biking looks like, Post Canyon has a trail or three for you. For intermediate riders, 8 Track is a great place to start, while flow-focused riders who want to get their tires off the ground should check out Bad Motor Scooter.
Finally, for riders who don’t want to stray far from the excellent mountain bike shops, and artisan coffee shops of Portland, Forest Park offers mountain biking just minutes from downtown. This trail system is a great option for anyone on a business trip, who just wants to get a little riding in on the side. Don’t worry about flying with your bike, just bring your bike helmet, and grab a ride from a shop that offers mountain bike rentals. While many of the singletrack trails in Forest Park are only open to pedestrians, there are plenty of mountain bike trails and paths, perfect for burning some calories and getting outside. So even if you’re on a tight schedule, you can still easily get some trail time in Portland.
No matter what flavor of mountain biking is your favorite, the greater Portland area has something for you, and once you’re done riding for the day, enjoy one of the West Coast’s greatest and most laid back cities.