On Thursday morning we awoke to blue skies which meant just one thing: it was time to ride! While driving to the coast earlier in the week we passed by Storey Burn Rd. which sounded familiar to me for some reason. Sure enough there was a trail called Storey Burn on singletracks so I asked Barry at Fat Tire Farm if it was worth riding. It turns out Storey Burn is just one part of the Browns Camp area of the Tillamook State Forest with miles of singletrack and ATV trails to explore. Sold!
I parked at the Browns Camp OHV day use area and was a little thrown off by the sounds of revving dirt bikes and ATVs buzzing around. The trailhead was well signed and I had no problem finding my way to the Wilson River Wagon Road (WRWR) Trail, a singletrack trail that’s closed to motorized vehicles. My plan was to make a loop with the WRWR, Nels Rogers, and Gravelle Brothers trails for about 8-10 miles of riding.
I wasn’t sure which way to take the loop so I picked counter-clockwise. The WRWR quickly gave way to the Nels Rogers trail where I came to a narrow bridge crossing Devils Lake Fork. At first I was worried about how I’d get across but it was actually pretty easy with my bike in one hand and the other clutching the rail. The trail climbed quickly and steeply after the creek crossing and I ended up hiking the bike a bit more than I would have liked.
At the Rogers Camp Trailhead I studied the map again and set off for the Gravelle Brothers trail – but for some reason I couldn’t find it. Not wanting to get lost, I headed down the forest road toward the University Falls trailhead where I knew I could rejoin the singletrack loop. About a mile down the road three police cars with lights on and sirens blaring came screaming past, almost like a scene out of the Dukes of Hazard. The dust was so thick I had to slow down just to see where I was going.
As I approached the University Falls trailhead a deer crossed the gravel road in front of me, seemingly unfazed by me and my bike. I guess the local wildlife has become desensitized to loud, fast moving objects in the woods.
At University Falls I hooked back up with the Wilson River Wagon Road trail and the singletrack was even better on this side of the loop. Fast, narrow descents were followed by tree-lined climbs through the lush green forest. At the top of one of the climbs the forest opened up and offered just a glimpse of the surrounding peaks. A man and a woman on mountain bikes were taking a break here and I was amazed at how clean their bikes and shoes were – clearly they must just be starting their ride. Although the trails weren’t nearly as wet here as they were at Sandy Ridge on Wednesday, there were still muddy patches mixed with dusty stretches at the ATV trail crossings.
Tillamook State Forest seems to offer mountain bikers plenty to choose from and I’d love to come back to explore Storey Burn and the full Wilson River trail. At less than an hour outside Portland, the Browns Camp area is an amazing place to explore on a mountain bike!