The Mountain of the Rogue Trail System is a recently established bike optimized trail system in southern Oregon notable for its proximity to the I-5 transportation corridor. Located just a few minutes from the freeway exit, the system is located 18 miles north of Medford.
Developed and managed by the BLM, the trail system features a series of stacked loops arranged in the hills overlooking the town of Rogue River, Oregon. The single track flow trails were designed specifically for mountain bikers, by mountain bikers with routes designed to accommodate various skill and fitness levels.
The lower loops offer fun times for all riders, but one experience the trail system fell short on was accommodating riders seeking advanced difficulty. That’s changed with the addition of a double black diamond, expert-level trail known as “No Joke”.
We had the opportunity to test ride the new challenge line a few weeks before it’s soft opening with the BLM Trails team and experience it first hand earlier this year.
As promised, it more than delivered in raising heart rates, as we descended steep switchback turns, dropped down rocky rolls, pounded through rock gardens, and hucked a few drops.
Reaching the trail requires pedaling to the top of the mountainside, which, with the exposure to the sun can get quite warm. You’re well rewarded with this descent, but it really is intended for advanced level riders. Many of the grades are steep, loose, and feature a good amount of exposure. Bailing off your bike could result in substantial damage to both the rider and equipment.
Which coincidentally is how we like many of our trails. Knee pads are mandatory here, with a full-face helmet and platform pedals being a good idea as well. For some reason, the weekend of our Southern Oregon visit I was in the midst of a clip-in pedal phase; (I regularly go back and forth) though I managed to clean everything clipped in, with a dab or two, in hindsight I would have much preferred to roll down on flats the first time down.
To reach No Joke, you climb the Rat Pack trail and go down Arm Bar, taking a right turn off Arm Bar to reach the new challenge line. The bottom of the trail drops you into Breakdown, which then feeds into Freewheel, which is the MOTR take on the classic jump-filled flow trail.
Jump trails in dry southern Oregon conditions are significantly different from what we’re accustomed to on the other side of the state… think rocks. Carrying speed through the rocky bermed turns requires a good line and maybe even a few pedal strokes upon the exit to maintain momentum. As well as establishing a comfort level that comes with a few repeat runs.
That momentum is crucial to clearing the jump features on the trail, which I found out the hard way after I blowing a turn and coming up short on the following double jump. Casing the feature resulted in my shoulder jumping out of its socket briefly before sliding back in upon the secondary impact. While frustrating, it was a relatively consequence-free reminder to review a trail or line before following a group blindly down a trail.
No Joke opened on a trial basis a few weeks after our visit, but we also had the opportunity to ride a number of other routes on our visit. Bob and Weave, Ripcord, PB&J and a few others were new to us, and bring the overall mileage of the system up to 13 miles. Though that may not seem like a lot, the repeat fun factor more than makes it a worthy pitstop on your drive through Southern Oregon.
We strongly recommend packing the Technu or other suitable post-ride soap though, as trails do have poison oak. It doesn’t hurt to check Trailforks to find the last time its been cut back as well. Though the system is open year-round, we find these trails best ridden in the Spring and Fall when the temperatures are cooler.
The Mountain of the Rogue Trail System is easily accessible from Interstate 5 about 18 miles north of Medford and 7 miles south of Grants Pass. From I-5: Take Exit 48 into the town of Rogue River. Turn right onto East Main Street and curve right as it becomes North River Road. Continue traveling 1 mile to the trailhead parking lot.