April 18, 2012
I rode a section of this trail from Sand Prairie Campground to around milepost 22 last weekend. The weather was great and the trail was in excellent condition considering we just came out of one of the wettest Marches in recorded history. There was literally only one muddy spot and a couple of higher-than-usual water crossings.
The first 5 miles or so of this trail are a lark—ideal for beginning riders, but still a lot of fun for others. The scenery here is beautiful. After that, it became progressively more challenging with some steep and/or more technical sections. Nothing too crazy though.
Although the trail leaves the woods in two places along this section, the route is very well-marked, and soon returns to singletrack. This was my first time riding this trail, but will certainly not be my last. I’m eager to ride the upper, more challenging portions that are currently under several feet of snow.
This seems like a great place to do a weekend trip—one day up, camp at the lake, one day down. Get a Wilderness Pass permit or be prepared to park away from established trailheads to avoid a fine. The permit is good in three states and is good for a year. There is also a daily option.
McKenzie River Trail.