Sandy Ridge … Bike Park Without Lifts
I left our RV park in Oakridge at 5:00 am and drove 3 hours north to Sandy Ridge. Six hours of driving for just one day of riding? Are you insane? Yup. When it comes to mountain biking I get a little crazy.
I had first heard about Sandy Ridge when JLo (Jesse Livingston and Lori Reed) recommended this place a few months previous. As a Trail Care Crew for IMBA they had built and experienced many a trail system. If JLo recommend an area to ride it must be exceptional.
The sun had risen as I headed east on Highway 26 headed for Sandy Ridge. Just in front of the sun I could barely make out the image of Mount Hood. I pulled the truck to the side of the road a couple of times to try to capture a good shot of the dormant volcano. But Oregon has had some terrible fires the past weeks and smoke filled the air, making Mount Hood difficult to capture.
Finding the trailhead was not as difficult as finding paper in the toilet. After three hours on the road I was really had to go.
I was a little upset at first! How could they do this to me! But then I thought about it a little more … I was there so early the person assigned to do the bathrooms probably had not made his/her rounds yet that morning.
I returned to the truck and got some out of my pack. I always carry paper in my pack … you never know when mother nature will strike!
When I entered the parking lot I was the only vehicle. When I emerged from the toilette (the second time) I found two other vehicles … with no riders. Either these people jumped right on their bikes as soon as they arrived or I was in there longer than I thought!
I hustled over to the truck and quickly started to get stuff ready. If people were going to continue to show up as fast as these two vehicles I had better get up on that ridge and do some mountain biking before the hoards arrive!
The plastic bin set up to hold maps was empty, so I used my phone to take a photo of the posted map. I have found this technique works pretty well (when a map is provided) as I can see most everything by zooming in on the phone.
By studying the map I quickly realized how Sandy Ridge was set up … just like a bike park or a ski resort. What I mean is:
- There was one way to the top of the ridge.
- Almost all the rides start from the top.
- Trails are set up for ONE WAY traffic … downhill traffic!
The difference? Sandy Ridge had no chair lifts, cleared runs, hotels, restaurants, bike rentals, or ski shops. Another difference was the price … Sandy Ridge was free!
So how do the riders get to the top? A nice, smooth, blacktop route called Homestead Road runs from the parking lot to the top of the ridge. You ride to the top on pavement, take one of the incredible trails back down to the bottom. Then you do the whole thing all over again, as many times as you can, before darkness sets in. No, Sandy Ridge does not have lighted runs like some ski resorts!
Are the trails Sandy? After all, the name is “Sandy Ridge,” right?
I came across all kinds of different trail surfaces … but not one of them was sandy! The reason this place was called Sandy Ridge was probably due to the close proximity of the Sandy River. And most likely the nearby town was named Sandy for that same reason. Now, is the Sandy River sandy? I don’t know or really care!
Here are some of the trail surfaces I did encounter.
How did You like Sandy Ridge?
I had a blast! Contrary to my anticipation the entire parking lot did not fill up and I never saw a single rider once I started down on a trail. I did share some company riding back up to the top. As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed talking to some of my fellow bikers while grinding up the pavement. Here are two of the guys with whom I shared “the lift.”
I asked their names and promptly forgot them once we headed down the ridge. Next time I am going to record them the names on my phone!
How much climbing did you do?
The following table shows how much climbing and dropping I did on each of my four runs.
Climb 1 … 1,300 feet Drop 1 … 621 feet
Climb 2 … 966 feet Drop 2 … 874 feet
Climb 3 … 648 feet Drop 3 … 604
Climb 4 … 639 feet Drop 4 … 1,279
As you can see from the table the initial climb and the final drop are much larger than the others. That means the trail I was riding down for Drops 1, 2, and 3 dumped me out onto Homestead Road somewhere short of hitting the absolute bottom.
What trails did you like?
All of them! But some more than others.
I think my favorite was Quid Pro Flow. This was a trail with large radius, steeply banked berms (allowing much speed in the corners). Between these monster berms I found several table top jumps (allowing jumpers to fly at their own level of comfort). The entire trail was at least four feet wide and built for fun!
All the other trails were also fast and fun, but on a smaller scale than Quid Pro Flow. The other trails were also a lot of fun, but on a smaller scale than Quid Pro Flow. Follow the Leader was the most difficult to ride. The rock drop obstacles at the top were too much for me. After walking over some of those drops I found the remainder of the trail a little less challenging and more to my level.
My goal was to have a lot of fun, ride every trail, and get some great photos. I would have liked to get more photos of the surrounding hills (and Mount Hood) but as I stated above, the air was thick with smoke.
After the sun disappeared behind the hills to the west of Sandy Ridge I decided to head for the truck. While packing up my gear and loading my bike a fellow rode up to the vehicle next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted what first appeared to be a Model T type of car headlight mounted to his bars.
However, when I actually turned and looked I could see he had no headlight at all. What he had mounted there was a stuffed head of a male big horn sheep (a ram). I asked for a photo and he obliged.
My three hour ride back Oakridge offered me plenty of time to think back on my day at Sandy Ridge.
Did I have fun?
Did I ride every trail?
I think so.
Did I get some great photos?
Aw, not great.
Was riding Sandy Ridge worth the drive?
The following information was collected by my Garmin 800 Edge … taking readings every second. Just click on the Ride Title to access these stats, maps, and graphs.