HOW KLAMATH BECAME ONE OF THE BEST BIKE REGIONS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
When most people think of Klamath, they imagine birds—lots and lots of birds. And while that reputation is well-deserved—the Klamath Basin sits along the largest migratory bird route in the western United States—it’s also earning acclaim for another outdoor pursuit: cycling.
It’s easy to see why cyclists are captivated. The Klamath Basin hosts a rich variety of natural beauty, from lush forests to scenic Crater Lake, and cyclists of all skill levels can tackle hundreds of miles of pavement, gravel, and dirt trails. And 300 days of sunshine every year means that you’re never far from good riding weather. As Klamath makes its case as the best cycling destination in Oregon, here’s a rundown of the regions most scenic routes, best bike shops, and other resources to get started on the ride of a lifetime.
Ride Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park’s Rim Drive is open to cyclists every summer and fall, but a lack of shoulder space and intense elevation gain make it a tough trip for all but the most seasoned riders. That said, cyclists can take part in organized rides for a safer—and occasionally car-free—experience.
Ride the Rim closes the 24-mile East Rim Drive to vehicles for several hours on consecutive Saturdays every September, turning the road over to people-powered transportation. The free event includes five support stops with shade, snacks, restrooms, repair tools, and hydration stations. The Crater Lake Century Bike Ride, meanwhile, offers a challenging ride for cyclists interested in the surrounding Klamath Basin, in addition to Crater Lake itself. The event offers 62-mile or 100-mile routes, with each option passing through the nearby Wood River Valley and climbing to the Crater Lake rim.
Once you’ve worked up a sweat riding the rim, relax with Northwest fare and cold libations at the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room. Perched on the rim, the restaurant serves regional cuisine, beer, and wine—and features a patio where diners can kick back in a rocking chair and watch the sunset behind the lake.
OC&E Woods State Line Trail
The longest linear state park at 109 miles long, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail follows the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad’s old rail bed—and introduces riders to the region’s varied landscapes along the way. The rail-to-trail conversion starts in Klamath Falls, passes through juniper and sagebrush at Olene Gap, traverses the heart of the Sprague River Valley, and delivers scenic forest views from atop the 400-foot-long, 50-foot-high Merritt Creek Trestle. The trail offers plenty of entrances and exits, so you can pick and choose a route to suit your skill level and interests. Even with more than 100 miles of trail, no two sections are alike.
Head’s up: While the urban route through Klamath Falls is paved, the rest of the trail features long stretches of gravel and loose rock—so make sure your bike is ready for the conditions before heading out.
Klamath Falls makes an ideal starting (or ending) point, so make Klamath Basin Brewing Company your first post-ride stop. The 17-year-old brewery offers eight easy-drinking beers on tap, outdoor seating, live music, and more.
Spence Mountain Trail
Just 15 miles from Klamath Falls, the brand-new Spence Mountain Trail invites seasoned mountain bikers to climb more than 850 feet in pursuit of some of the region’s best views. The arduous climb stretches out over roughly five miles, sticking mostly to thick forestland along the way. Once you’ve reached the summit, take a breather while enjoying views of Upper Klamath Lake, Mount Shasta, and rolling peaks in the distance. On the way back down, riders will appreciate the jumps, berms, fast drops, and other natural features.
Collier Memorial State Park to Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site
The timber industry fueled the Klamath Basin economy for much of the 1900s, and its decline left behind dozens of miles of gravel roads criss-crossing the region’s forests and waterways. These abandoned backroads make for ideal cycling terrain, and few rides offer a more immersive natural experience than the stretch between Collier Memorial State Park and Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site.
The 23.4-mile round-trip ride includes nearly 1,200 feet of elevation gain, mostly coming in long, gentle grades. The spiderweb of logging trails makes it possible to extend or shorten your ride as you see fit, and the state parks that bookend the trek offer campsites, bathrooms, and clear spring water for keeping cool and clean after a day in the saddle.
Starting Cycling in Klamath Falls
Now that you know where to go and what to expect, here’s a quick breakdown for finding group rides, getting your bike worked on, finding (or renting) a new bike, and making the most of your outdoor adventure.
Learn About the Region: Before you inflate your tires and hop on your bike, take a few minutes to browse Ride Klamath Ride. The comprehensive website includes more than two dozen road, dirt, and gravel routes; information on the Klamath Basin’s many attractions; bike rental and repair resources; and more.
Find a Bike Group: Don’t know where to begin? Thanks to the Lost Cascades Bike Club, you don’t need to.The group routinely organizes group rides on all terrains—and for cyclists of all experience levels—with shorter rides dominating the after-work schedule and longer rides on the weekends. The group also raises money for the Klamath Trails Alliance (which builds and maintains recreational trails throughout the Klamath basin), helps with trail maintenance efforts, and more.
Local Bike Shops: Whether you need to fix a flat or find a ride, the Klamath Basin’s bike scene hosts plenty of shops to meet the needs of a bustling bike culture. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Since 1982, Hutch’s Bicycles has provided riders of all stripes with repairs, gear, and bikes throughout Central and Southern Oregon. Stop in if your bike needs some work before hitting the trail—or if you’re looking to rent or buy a new ride.
- Wheel Fun Rentals at Running Y Ranch Resort, nestled against the shores of Upper Klamath Lake, offers bikes for adults and little ones alike, not to mention kid trailers for tired toddlers. Several nearby trails offer off-road experiences suited to the entire family.
- BMX enthusiasts will feel right at home at Gonracin BMX. The Klamath Falls bike shop specializes in racing and freestyle bikes, parts, and apparel.
- Zach’s Bikes opened in 2016 and has since established a reputation in Klamath Falls for skilled mechanics, a variety of bike rentals, workshops, custom builds, and more.
- RAD Used Bikes is located on Main Street in Klamath Falls, and it offers repairs, tune-ups, and frame modifications for existing bikes, as well as sales of used bikes.
Whether you want to hit the singletrack trails or enjoy the wide open roads, you’ll find Klamath County has endless options to explore. So take the time to explore the region and you’ll be amazed at just how much fun you can have on two wheels.
Written by Matt Wastradowski for RootsRated in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.