North Umpqua … Cascades, Waterfalls, Huge Ferns … and Much More
Steve said he had attempted the North Umpqua Trail (in southern Oregon) a couple of times before … but had run into problems each trip. Last year he had tried doing a loop but had trouble with his rims slicing the sidewalls of his tires. So he’d gotten a taste of this trail and was itchin’ to return … and I would soon find out why.
Length: 35.63 miles
We met Steve at the Roseburg Denny’s at 7:00 am, and then followed his Honda Element up Highway 138. A solid hour of driving took us just past Marsters Bridge, where we loaded Steve’s S-Works Stumpjumper into the back of the Tundra (right next to my old Stumpjumper Pro).
Having left the Element at the bridge; Steve, Cindy, and I soon fell into casual conversation. As I drove our Tundra, Steve told us he had come down this highway (# 138) on his way up from California. He had discovered several discrepancies between the North Umpqua website and what he actually witnessed while scouting out the trailhead. He then went on to tell Cindy about his attempt at this trail the previous year with the tire and rim problems he had encountered.
I also shared some information, “You remember that chain I bought for a back-up for that ride you took me on in Tahoe? (We had met at Tahoe and done a ride up Armstrong Pass) … well I finally got around to putting it on my bike, just before coming up here to Oregon. That old one was in sad, sad shape. Other than that, the old Stumpjumper has been doing fine.”
We followed Road 60 (a dirt road) until we noticed a trail going up a hill. To the right of the trail stood a rustic, old, outhouse. The sign next to the trail said North Umpqua, but Steve said he didn’t think we were supposed to start at that point. I said I wasn’t sure … but I was sure I needed to use the outhouse. Boy what a relief!
We all piled back into the Tundra when Steve finally determined the trailhead must be farther up Road 60. “There must be a trailhead sign,” Steve said.
Kelsey Valley Trailhead
A quarter mile farther and we came to a camp … a horse camp called Kelsey Valley. Dogs started barking as we exited the truck and only a minute passed before a gray haired “Horse Lady” came out of her trailer (followed by a couple of the barking dogs), and told us what we needed to know. “You have to ride up this trail (which went east, the opposite direction we wanted to go), then make a right onto the trail that says, “No Bikes.” That will bring you to the very first part of the North Umpqua that allows bikes.”
She appeared to be one of those people who liked being in charge … she knew what she was talking about.
So we started to get our stuff ready to go. When I picked up my Camelback I noticed something strange about the mouthpiece. It looked as though it had been chewed, extensively. Now I know I use my teeth to get the water to come out … but I was pretty sure this damage was not due to my incisors. When I showed Cindy she had a good laugh, then said she figured one of the squirrels at camp must have been real thirsty or hungry enough to eat plastic.
We said goodbye to Cindy, and set off down a dirt road (Windy Pass Road) toward the east. After heading a couple hundred yards east (from horse camp) we went south on the forbidden trail until we got to the North Umpqua Trail, the beginning of the Lemolo Segment, which led us right back to where we originally were going to start (next to the old outhouse).
The North Umpqua Trail is 79 miles long and comprised of 11 segments. The Maidu Segment (the easternmost segment) is open to hikers and horses, but is closed to bikers. The next 5 segments (from east to west) are Lemolo, Dread and Terror, Hot Springs, Dear Leap, and Jessie Wright. These are the five segments we were to ride.
DREAD & TERROR INTERACTIVE MAP
- Below you will find a map for the best 5 segments of the North Umpqua Trail.
- Click the green or red balloons for driving directions to the trailheads.
Have you done this ride? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
After riding down Windy Pass Road and taking the “illegal” crossover trail we came right to the beginning of the Lemolo segment. We would now be officially riding the North Umpqua Trail!
Umpqua refers to any of several distinct groups of Native Americans that live in south central Oregon. The Upper or North Umpqua Tribe was the first in Oregon to sign a federal treaty. The Cow Creek Band of the Upper Umpqua has a reservation near the modern-day city of Roseburg. This Cow Creek Tribe now operates the Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino Resort in Canyonville just south of Roseburg.
The following information was collected by my Garmin 800 Edge … taking readings every second. These stats are for all the segments we did on the North Umpqua Trail.