O’Leary Trail beefed up for mountain bikers
September 24, 2016
Trail crews on the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest have completed a five-year project to improve the O’Leary Loop into a world class mountain biking trail. Already a “hidden gem” for both hiking and mountain biking, the enhanced trail is a 22-mile, single-track loop with an intense backcountry feel. Local partners and the McKenzie River Ranger District hope that increasing the mountain biking opportunities in the area will encourage visitors to stay and explore the area for multiple days.
The project started in 2011 when the Recreation and Trails sub-committee of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce identified a need for additional bike trails to better serve the mountain biking community. The McKenzie River Trail, which draws visitors locally, nationally and internationally, was the only substantial opportunity for mountain biking in the area. The Disciples of Dirt, a mountain bike advocacy group, worked with the Willamette National Forest to identify the O’Leary Loop, which had been infrequently used for hiking or biking, as an opportunity to expand mountain biking opportunities.
A number of non-government agencies were involved, including the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), the Disciples of Dirt, the Blue River Community Development Corporation and the Northwest Youth Corps. Alyssa Brownlee, board member of the Blue River Community Development Corporation, helped the Forest Service to organize three trail work parties, one of which drew about 70 volunteers.
“This project provided a great opportunity for the community to partner with the Forest Service to leverage our natural resources and attractions,” said Brownlee. “By working together, we’re strengthening relationships, improving our trails, helping grow the economy and create more jobs in our community.”
Trail work included reconstructing 25 miles originally built for hiking to meet mountain bike standards and rerouting three miles of unsustainably steep portions of the trail.
Image: USFS Photo. Mountain bikers have a reason to be happy, thanks to new trail.
McKenzie River Reflections