Mountain Biking Oregon: Tillamook State Forest

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!

Related posts:

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  2. Mountain Biking Oregon: Sandy Ridge
  3. Mountain Biking Bend, Oregon: The Cog Wild Experience
  4. Oregon Mountain Bike Photos of the Day
  5. Video: “Downhill mountain biking at The Lookout (Swinley Forest, UK) with Amber the Downhill Dog”

4 thoughts on “Mountain Biking Oregon: Tillamook State Forest

  1. I used to go camping and dirt biking there when i was a kid in the 60′s. I would like to check it out again. It was called the burn back in those days. I’m sure before it was a state park, you could camp where you want, ride where you want and jump off the bridge into the wilson river.

  2. Looks and sounds like a great place to ride. So, are you in Portland just to ride, or is riding these sweet places a fringe benefit of another agenda?

  3. Thanks for the great post. I rode this loop yesterday with my 15 year old son. We were able to find Gravelle Brothers Trail (pick it up behind the gravel pit) and did the track counter-clockwise. The photos you posted are great and we recognized each spot as we passed it.

    The whole loop was 8.6 miles on my odometer – I was expecting a little over 7 miles based on the ODF maps. I have a GPS track that I may be able to post later (GPS had it at 8.2 miles). The trail is well designed and in good shape. I only had to dismount twice to get up steep climbs with a lot of obstacles but neither was very long.

    There is a footbridge out shortly after the intersection of the Wilson River Wagon Road and Nels Rogers Trails. The signs indicate that there is a high water bridge further down at Deyoe Trailhead – 0.2 miles according to the sign, then an equal distance back. The creek was low so we were able to ford over rocks and logs carrying our bikes without getting wet.

    There are some crazy fun descents on this trail. Overall it wasn’t difficult, although it was narrow in many places and near some steep drop offs so you have to ride with vigilance. The brush is grown into the trail in a number of places making for narrow passage but I wore shorts and a t-shirt and didn’t return with any scars (we’ll see about poison ivy or oak in a few days).

    I live in TX so the trail scenery was exceptional. Verdant, green and lush and almost always in the shade of beautiful, tall trees. We stopped at University Falls for a few minutes, which was well worth the short walk in. We only saw two other bikers on the trail coming the other direction. They were doing a figure 8 ride coming down from Gales Creek via the Storey Burn Trail and then hooking up with the Nels Rogers. We also passed three solo hikers. We didn’t encounter anyone else on the trail going counter-clockwise. I’m not sure whether that is the appropriate direction but it worked well for us. Some of the downhills going counter-clockwise looked like they would be tough the other direction but that may just be perception.

    I can’t wait to try some other trails in the area. What a great ride!

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