Shevlin Park trails

Directions: From Bend, travel about 5 miles along Newport Avenue and Shevlin Park Road. At the bottom of a long hill, the park entrance is on the left.

Features: Relatively flat and easy trails, good for families and novice riders.

Distance: Loop options for bikers include the 6-mile Shevlin Park Loop Trail that circles most of the park and the 4-mile Tumalo Creek Loop Trail that runs along the creek in the middle of the park.

Rating: Aerobically easy and technically easy.

Season: Early spring through late fall.

More rides can be found at bendbulletin.com/rideguide.

During the late summer and early fall, perhaps nothing gets mountain bikers more excited than some rain and cooler weather.

After last week’s significant rainfall, trails that had been sandy and dusty for weeks during a hot, dry summer, are now firm and tacky, making for ideal riding conditions across Central Oregon.

In addition, the summertime tourists are gone, meaning the locals can take back some of their favorite singletrack close to Bend and not be forced to deal with crowded trails.

This is a good time of year to head to those trails that you may have avoided during the summer due to dust and crowds. The Phil’s Trail area is an obvious choice, but Shevlin Park is also a prime early-fall destination for mountain bikers.

Sure, the 650-acre park in northwest Bend is probably more popular with trail runners and hikers, but all the trails in Shevlin are open to bikers, and the park makes an ideal place for families and children to ride.

Shevlin was one of the first places I took my kids when I introduced them to mountain biking. Trails in the park are relatively flat and include few technical challenges, making them relatively easy for youngsters and novice riders. Mountain bikers at Shevlin must be prepared to yield to hikers and runners, however, as the trails there can remain busy even during the fall and early winter.

Options for bikers include the 6-mile Shevlin Park Loop Trail that circles most of the park, and the 4-mile Tumalo Creek Loop Trail that runs along the creek in the middle of the park. The Shevlin loop seems to be the best option for riders, as its tends to be a little less crowded with hikers and runners than the Tumalo Creek trail.

From the Park Commons trailhead just off Shevlin Park Road — where I started my ride on a crisp, partly cloudy day last week — trails flow west and south down into Shevlin Park.

Newly snow-covered Cascade peaks lined the horizon before I ducked into deep forest along the Shevlin Park Loop Trail, which runs along the rim of the canyon above Tumalo Creek on the east side of the park.

The east side of the loop is one of my favorite sections of trail in Central Oregon: Tumalo Creek flows far below as bikers must negotiate a cliff side and a couple of short rocky sections and steep hills.

I cruised over the firm singletrack, which eventually led me downhill to a small bridge that crosses Tumalo Creek. On the other side of the creek is a short, steep climb that is likely the toughest section of trail in the park — I usually walk my bike up it.

From the south end of the park, more adventurous bikers can connect to the Mrazek Trail to make for a longer ride. That was my plan, as I turned up the hill to Mrazek to ride a few miles out and back before returning to Shevlin.

Back in the park, I sped down the west side of the Shevlin Park Loop — making sure to ride with caution and yield to hikers and runners. That is a fast and flowing piece of singletrack that does not get as much use as other areas of the park.

Controlled burns from this past spring left much of the west side of the park charred black, but the area will no doubt eventually return to the green splendor that makes it one of the most popular parks in Bend.

Once I reached the park entrance, I linked up to the west side of the Tumalo Creek Trail, which was recently redesigned by the Bend park district with fine, gray gravel, much like areas of the Deschutes River Trail in Bend.

I crossed the bridge at the south end of the park and headed back up toward the Park Commons area. Assorted trails and dirt roads wind through that area of the park. Bikers can connect from the Shevlin Loop Trail to a dirt road that links to a paved trail to the Park Commons area.

By the time I arrived back at the car, I had ridden about 15 miles in two hours — a perfect ride in the early fall with prime trail conditions and sparse traffic in Shevlin Park.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

18281913