This trail system has been in the works for over 25 years. How the Oregonian rippers of Black Rock built a remarkable ode to freeriders. By Jann Eberharter.
Deep in the woods of Central Oregon, equidistant from the coast and the concrete vein of Interstate 5, there is a small haven of mountain bike trails known as Black Rock. Driving in, the whole area is unassuming as you park on the edge of Camp Tapawingo, pedal up the road and head into the forest.
Once up the road, small signs of mountain biking start to appear: wood ladder drops can be seen off in the distance, tire skids line the road, and, finally, a small staging area complete with jump lines, a picnic bench and a trail map appears.
This is just a taste though. It’s a mellow, two-mile road climb to the top and along the way more and more features become visible. First, a few jumps, then some wooden drops and then a gigantic, over-head platform, with a huge kicker up onto it and gap over the road down.
Here, the reality of Black Rock sets in. The area may only have four trails and 289 metres (316 yards) of vertical, but never has so little been so impressive.
Black Rock’s history goes all the way back to the ‘80s when Mt. Brown was the destination for local motorcycle buffs looking to get a little throttle therapy. Their two-stroke engines took them straight uphill, leaving singletrack in the wake. As early at 1991, local mountain bikers were descending these trails on their v-braked hardtails.
It didn’t take long for the mountain bikers to realize the area’s potential, and with a closure to motorized vehicles, the vicinity became their playground. In early 2002, locals were granted permission by the Oregon Department of Forestry to dig freeride-specific trails, and by May the place was designated mountain bike only. The cooperation demonstrated by both bikers and officials was unprecedented at this time.
In the years since, there has been a grassroots surge of building and advocacy. Locals have continually expanded and maintained the trails, formed the Black Rock Mountain Bike Alliance and hosted shuttle days, curating an impressive and sought-after trail network backed by passionate people.
After ascending the road to the top, there’s a beautiful view to the north, but it can easily go unnoticed as the excitement of what waits below is overwhelming. All that’s left to do is drop in.