If you want a mountain bike ride that’s just you, the forests, and your bike, head to the Rhododendron Ridge Trail. Known for its lonely miles, beautiful landscape, and fun challenges, the trail is eight miles there-and-back. It’s located up in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, close to Estacada, with beautiful views of the Cascade Range.
The Rhododendron Ridge Trail starts off with a challenge, requiring bikers to head uphill from the trailhead. It’s suggested that bikers ride in a clockwise loop and begin at the north trailhead. It’s still a tough place to start, but up ahead is a sight to keep one pushing those peddles – a stunning view of snowy Mount Jefferson, framed by a colorful ridge of groundcover and trees. This serves as a small consolation for the switchbacks and straightaways one must bike up.
Once the trail hits the tree line, the path evens out. Huckleberries and lupines add splashes of color, as the trail dips and rises along the ridge. Enjoy the intermix of Douglas fir and hemlock forest with penstemon and Indian paintbrush if they’re in bloom. There are multiple ways of cutting through the forest, but take unmarked trails with the knowledge that they may be rockier or steeper than the main route.
Note that due to infrequent use, the trail is only lightly broken in. Expect untrimmed undergrowth and few signs of maintenance. Look for fallen trees on the path, or areas of heavy brush, especially while headed downhill.
Directions from Portland to the north end of the trail:
- Take US Hwy 26 east to Sandy, then turn right on OR Hwy 211 and travel 6.1 miles to OR Hwy 224.
- Turn left on OR Hwy 224 and travel 25.6 miles to Clackamas River Hwy.
- Take the right fork onto Forest Road 46 and travel 16 miles to Forest Road 4670.
- Turn right onto 4670 and follow it to the intersection with Forest Road 6350. Cross 6350 and look for the large parking area.