Pro cyclist Serena Gordon shares everything you need to know about biking in Bend
January 17, 20248 minute read
Bend has hundreds of miles of well-maintained trails, year-round riding, magnificent scenery, and a passionate mountain biking community. It’s no wonder we’re consistently named one of the best places to mountain bike in the US.
What makes Bend a great mountain bike destination?
Let’s start with trails, all 600 miles of them. Yep, you read that right. Central Oregon boasts over 600 miles of maintained singletrack. Everyone from dirt newbies to technical shredders will find trails to explore. We may not have the most heart-stoppingly steep singletrack, but we make up for it in sheer variety. From fast to technical to smooth and flowy, it’s easy to find a ride to satisfy everyone in your crew.
Are you wondering who maintains all these magnificent miles? It’s thanks to the small but mighty staff and volunteer trail crews at Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). And if you’d like to get involved, how about joining a trail work party? Or, pedal your generosity forward by making a donation.
With so many miles and so much diverse terrain, Bend is a mountain bike destination with options to ride year-round.
Summer is certainly the most popular time to hit the trails. Beautiful, sunny weather, ready-to-ride terrain, and dry conditions bring riders from near and far to the trails. Summer can also bring hot afternoons and potential smoke due to forest fires. Have a backup plan, just in case.
Spring and fall are seasons of change, with opportunities to test out your layering skills and generally fewer riders on the trails. Enjoy cheery wildflowers and grippy dirt in the spring. Come fall, golden hues and crisp temps are the norm. Shoulder season weather and trail access can be less predictable, so be sure to check conditions first. Winter in Bend brings out its own possibilities to ride on frozen east-side trails as well as groomed fat-biking trails at Wanoga Sno-Park.
No matter what time of year you ride, the epic scenery will never disappoint. How about towering views of the rugged, snow-capped Cascade Mountains? Or weaving through shady ponderosa pine forests with peek-a-boo views of lakes, mountains, or the mighty Deschutes River? Heck, just about everywhere you ride, you’ll encounter the beauty of Central Oregon, from sweeping landscapes to sparkling alpine lakes.
Are you itching to ride yet? Excellent! Let’s talk about where to go.
Are you new to mountain biking? Or have the kids in tow? Check out these beginner-friendly mountain bike trail systems around Bend:
For intermediate to advanced riders, Bend is paradise! With too many trails to mention, we’ll narrow it down to some excellent areas to explore.
If you want to learn how to mountain bike or ramp up your skills, Cog Wild offers mountain bike lessons tailored to every skill level and age. Their experienced instructors will help you conquer the trails with confidence. They also offer shuttles and tours for a fantastic, hassle-free way to experience riding Bend’s local trails.
Spring, summer, and fall certainly see the most riders on these popular trails. But wintertime also provides its own two-wheeled fun.
Winter mountain biking around Bend is becoming more and more popular thanks to some ready-to-ride fat biking destinations. Wanoga Sno Park offers two groomed fat bike trails. Choose from a three-mile inner, and a six-mile outer loop that are both great for all skill levels. Or take a snowy spin up to a tranquil frozen Tumalo Falls along the Tumalo Creek Trail. If you’re longing for dirt, check with our local bike shops to see what might be rideable.
All these year-round riding opportunities in Central Oregon make any time the perfect time to practice your trail etiquette. As mountain bikers, we have the power to be ambassadors on the trails. This means being friendly, sharing outdoor spaces with all other users, practicing Leave No Trace, and respecting and protecting our trails and lands.
Another part of respecting our trails is knowing about our unique rules regarding e-bikes. The US Forest Service does not allow the use of e-bikes on any non-motorized USFS trails in Oregon. This means that all of Bend’s singletrack is off-limits and illegal for e-bikes. OHV trails, as well as gravel and dirt roads that allow motorized vehicles, are open to all, so pedal assist away! Read our article for more information on e-bike regulations and where to ride them.
For more information on trail etiquette, advocacy, conditions, or where to ride, check in with these local organizations and businesses.
And let’s not forget about the many fantastic local bike shops in Bend. If you need a bike rental, repair, new gear, or up-to-date trail conditions, they have everything you need to hit the dirt. If you’re looking for a mountain bike rental, make a reservation in advance. Especially during those busy summer months when rentals will run out.
Yes, indeed, mountain biking in Bend is nothing short of amazing. But in case you need another reason to come ride here, well, here it is: you’re in Bend! We’re not only a mountain bike destination, but we’re also fully loaded with other fantastic activities, sights, and bites.
After a satisfying ride, why not indulge in something delicious at a local restaurant, cafe, or food cart? Search for the perfect keepsake in downtown Bend or the Old Mill District. Enjoy an A-list outdoor concert at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater. Or take a thirst-quenching journey along the Bend Ale Trail.
From oodles of outdoor recreation to indoor activities, no matter what you, your friends, or your family enjoy (besides mountain biking), you’ll discover it right here in Bend.
Happy trails, friends!