Directions: From Oakridge (about two hours from Bend), travel east on state Highway 58 for 2 miles to Kitson Springs County Road. Turn right and proceed half a mile to Forest Service Road 21. Turn right and follow for 11 miles to Sand Prairie Campground. Trail can be ridden as an out and back from the campground, or bikers can shuttle up to numerous other access points along the trail.

Rating: Aerobically intermediate and technically intermediate, depending on length of ride.

Barely half a foot wide in certain places, the 30-mile-long Middle Fork of the Willamette trail cuts through green meadows, moss-covered Douglas fir trees and numerous creeks.

The northwestern terminus of the trail at Sand Prairie Campground is located about 12 miles from Oakridge, the mountain-biking mecca about 40 miles southeast of Eugene and 100 miles from Bend on state Highway 58. The Middle Fork springs from the ground near Timpanogas Lake just south of Diamond Peak, 43 miles southeast of Oakridge. At about 5,000 feet in elevation, Timpanogas marks the southeast terminus of the Middle Fork Trail, and its highest point. The first 4 miles of the trail from Timpanogas are steep, extremely technical, expert-­only sections where the trail descends sharply.

Fortunately, many trailheads and campgrounds are located along Forest Service Road 21, which runs south and east from Oakridge.

So bikers can opt for an out-and-back ride from Sand Prairie Campground, located at about 2,000 feet in elevation, or shuttle up to a starting point of their choosing.

—Mark Morical, The Bulletin

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