The Mountain Biking in Southern Oregon has been getting better every year. The Rogue Valley already contains multiple trail networks, and Klamath Falls is making big moves towards becoming a trail destination of its own with the ongoing Spence Mountain Project.
According to MTB Project, there are already two trail networks listed in the Klamath Falls Area, Moore Mountain and the Spence Mountain Trails. We’ve been hearing good things about the Spence Mountain Trail for some time, but 10 miles of trail in the ground wasn’t enough to motivate us to do the drive. (1.5 hours from Medford)
In late 2016 that changed; an additional loop was added to the growing trail system that cemented its status as a trail destination.
It’s not a hardtail old school-style trail either. (nothing wrong with these types of trails, but Oregon already has plenty of them) Dirt Mechanics, a trail crew based out of Bend, Oregon was brought in to perform the construction, and they did an amazing job creating an experience that utilizes the stacked loop trail model in order to provide a wide range of trail experiences.
The ride starts with a gradual climb up the South Ridge Trail. Although the grades are for the most part mellow, it gets hot in the summer. Knowing this, we got an early start, hitting the trail around 7am. Several groups of riders and hikers beat us to it, heading out at 6am.
The 42t low on my 1×11 drive train sufficed on the climb, but for the next visit I’ll be swapping it out for a 46 or 47t low. (there are two major climbs if you complete the route with the full loop.) The climb was punctuated with a few technical rock garden sections that kept things interesting.
When the trail was initially constructed, the South Ridge Trail was ridden as a loop. There was considerable evidence that it’s fun in both directions based on some of the lines.
When you reach the top of the climb (JCT 2, see image below) you’re presented with options; continue up to the Spence Mountain Summit or continue on to Upper Hooligan.
Upper Hooligan is considered an “enduro” style DH trail that’s littered with rocks, jumps and bermed turns. Taking my brother Izaak’s (our token local from Medford) advice, we donned our knee pads (he also brought his goggles as it gets dusty, especially if you’re following someone) and dropped in.
Hooligan, as you’d suspect by the name, is a blast.
At JCT 3 you reach another sign (the trails are extremely well signed, making it easy to find your way around) and the option to drop down Hooligan for the original loop or continue on to the newly completed, black diamond rated North Ridge Trail.
Hooligan was fun, but North Ridge is a legitimate black diamond trail, filled with rocks, jumps, gaps, berms and rock gardens. This is what I’m talking about!
Light weight trail tires and low pressures are not recommended for trail shredding here. The 30psi I’ve been able to get away with in Portland cost me a tire in Southern Oregon. In hindsight, I’d bring my 6″ travel Nomad to ride here as well. I’ve been having trouble finding trails outside of DH runs I want to ride it on, and knowing there are technical trails like these make me very happy.
I managed to limp my way through the trail while Inga and Izaak had a ball shredding their lugs off. We’ll be planning another ride in the fall when the temps come down a bit.
We’ve used MTB Project and Trail Forks for the 411 while traveling. Trail Forks has better information for Spence Mountain.
The local Bike club and trail stewards: Klamath Trails Alliance
The Trail Builders: Dirt Mechanics
KTA Map (jpg) (Which is already dated)
Trail Forks: Klamath Falls
MTB Project: Spence Mountain Trails