Henry Hagg Lake is located in Scoggins Valley Park near the town of Forest Grove, a distant suburb of Portland, Oregon. The main attraction of the park is of course Hagg Lake, featuring a wide range of recreation opportunities, whether you’re boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, running, or mountain biking.
A single track multi-use trail circles the park, offering over 14 miles of off-road cycling. In the summer, a morning mountain bike ride followed by a swim or paddle is a great way to spend a day, and its a family friendly location.
I first rode this trail years ago, and I’ve always had a fondness for it. It’s a classic Oregon cross-country mountain bike trail loop, with a definitive start and finish. It’s worth noting there aren’t a lot of great loop trails— one of my favorite types of trail riding experiences — complete with rest areas and lake side views. (note: the Browns Camp trail isn’t far from here, and is another fun loop. however, it’s on the short side at 8.5 miles without adding the Storey Burn to Gales Creek segments) but It can be ridden in either direction, though our favorite direction is clock-wise, starting at Parking lot C or one of the parking lots in the vicinity. At 14 miles long, it isn’t quite enough to wear you out, but there are plenty of other fun things to do while you’re there after your ride.
Riding the trail
The trail surface is fairly smooth for much of it, with intermittent climbs, and some root filled, twisty turns. While a full suspension trail bike works well, my personal favorite has always been a hardtail with good tires and geometry. Since most of the climbs are fairly short, you can pretty much sprint up most of them on the hardtail, though there are a few sustained ascents that are enough to really get your heart rate up. It’s not quite rough enough to really take advantage of rear suspension, but bumpy enough keep things spicy at speed.
There are a few fun, steep, punchy climbs (or descents, depending on which direction you took) that can be a challenge to clean. On a recent group ride, many of the riders were a bit over biked with 2.5″ tires that made the climbs a tad more challenging. Personally I don’t find it quite technical enough to want to be on my short travel trail bike, but wouldn’t want to be on a gravel bike either. (though I’m a 29″ hardtail proponent unless its a long day of smooth gravel)
Though there’s always “that guy” on a drop bar bike with large tires, I’d call it a legitimate mountain bike trail experience. For folks getting into the sport, it’s a great destination that can be fun on a range of bikes.
The trail ranges from intermediate rated single track to wider gravel sections, and there are a number of various trail heads and access points around the lake. Occasionally, you’ll be routed onto the road for short sections to cross bridges, and the dam.
Most of the trail is hard pack, covered by pine needles in the wooded sections. Many sections through the open meadow areas have been hardened with gravel and aggregate, to help minimize mud in the wet season. There are blackberry bushes lining some sections of the trail; on my last few rides there, they’ve been cut back, but I’ve also been there when they’ve gotten long enough to block progress.
Paddling boarding at Hagg Lake
There are a number of places you can launch from around the lake, but my preferences are for the boat ramp parking lots as some of the beaches can be a bit mucky.
Parking lots can fill up in the summer, when the park gets popular. There are a number of locations to access the water and hit the trail, but getting there early on the weekends is always a good idea.
While there isn’t technically a charge to visit the park, there are fees to park a vehicle, with a $7.00 parking pass required. To get around this, local road cyclists will often park just outside the park and ride their bikes in. For regular visitors, an annual pass costs $60.00.
Learn more at washcoparks.org