Ride Report: Tumalo Falls, Bend, Oregon

It was the beginning of my summer 2013 road trip, and I had already ridden with Cog Wild in Bend and the nearby McKenzie River Trail in Eugene. I was itching to get up higher in the hills to explore some trails that provided more of a big mountain feel. After all, I had just driven for three straight days from Georgia to get to Oregon… I wanted to ride in some real mountains!

After getting a few suggestions from Mel and Lawrence of Cog Wild, I decided to do a lariat route up the Tumalo Creek Trail, up North Fork past Tumalo Falls, connecting over on a short section of the Metolius Windigo Trail, descend down the Farewell Trail, and finish again on Tumalo Creek.

I began my ride by meandering up the Tumalo Creek Trail from the Skyliner’s parking lot. I chose to park lower down the mountain at Skyliner’s since parking there is free and parking closer to Tumalo Falls costs $$. Every little bit counts when you’re living on the road for a month!

The ride up Tumalo Creek was pleasant as well, and served as a great warm up before I hit the main climb up North Fork. Every now and then, I was able to glimpse some beautiful views through the trees.

Shortly after beginning the climb up the North Fork trail, I was confronted with the gorgeous vista of Tumalo Falls:

But this was just the beginning. As I climbed above the falls and pedaled up the trail as it continued to follow the creek, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of endless cascades in the rushing stream.

Photo: AK_Dan

The climb itself gained quite a bit of elevation, but the trail was relatively smooth and very well-built, making for an enjoyable climb. That’s a good thing, too, because the North Fork trail only allows uphill mountain bike traffic.

After gaining consistent elevation, I began to glimpse some gorgeous alpine vistas through the trees. I felt euphoric as I inhaled the crisp, clean, Oregon air, looking out over vast pine forests with glimpses of massive volcanic peaks in the distance. Finally, I was riding in the mountains!

As I was climbing up North Fork, I bumped into another rider. It was early morning during the middle of the week, so he was the only other person I had seen all day. This fellow mountain biker was quite the interesting character. An Australian ex-pat, he now lives in Vancouver, and was down in Bend for the week riding mountain bikes. It turned out that we were both doing the same loop, and since he’d ridden it before, I decided to follow him through the upcoming turns onto the Metolius/Windigo Trail and onto the Farewell Trail descent.

View from the Farewell Trail

Finally, we dropped into the Farewell trail and reaped the rewards of all of our hard work. The top section of Farewell was flowy and quite pedally, but it eventually steepened into a ripping descent! There were several rock gardens along the way, but on average the descent was smooth, dusty singletrack.

The Three Sisters pictured in the background

While I had already experienced the “moon dust” of the lower Bend trails, I was actually quite surprised to find such dry, dusty conditions this high in the mountains. Despite the rushing river and the massive pines, the soil was extremely dry and dusty. As I ripped into the descent behind my new riding partner, I backed off and gave him some space so I wouldn’t choke on his plume of dirt all the way down the mountain.

Still, once I embraced the dry conditions and got acquainted with maintaining traction in the dusty corners, I was able to relax and rip into the descent. It felt so fulfilling to be shredding downhill in the big mountains again! While the three-day drive to Oregon was extremely tedious, it was all paying off now.

Stay tuned for more tales from Oregon!

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