Mrazek Trail

Directions: From Bend, drive or ride 3.3 miles west on Newport Avenue as it turns into Shevlin Park Road. After crossing Tumalo Creek, turn left into the park and look for the trail on the left. Ride the Shevlin Park trails to the south end of the park, where Mrazek begins by following Tumalo Creek and then turns up and out of the park.

Trail features: A long singletrack trail that includes a gradual climb when ridden westward, and a long, sustained descent when ridden eastward.

Distance: The trail itself is 14 miles, but it can be linked to other trails in the upper Phil’s Trail system for a much longer loop.

Elevation gain: As much as 2,000 feet.

Rating: Aerobically intermediate, and technically intermediate.

Season: Spring, summer, fall.

By connecting multiple junctions, mountain bikers in Central Oregon can create any number of complicated loops. Sometimes, though, a simple out-and-back ride is the best plan for a day on local singletrack.

On the Mrazek Trail west of Bend, an out-an-back ride is often the only option, because the trail does not really link up directly to the nearby Phil’s Trail network. It does connect at a much higher elevation to the Farewell Trail near ­Tumalo Falls, but I have yet to conquer that 12-mile climb through the Deschutes National Forest.

Shortly after I moved to Bend in 2001, I went to a local bike shop and asked for a good idea for a ride. They told me to take Mrazek and climb until I got to Farewell, turn left on Farewell, and return to Bend via the Phil’s network.

They made it sound so easy. I climbed and climbed up Mrazek for hours, but Farewell never came.

Finally, I turned around and descended Mrazek. By the time I reached a road it was completely dark and I was so bushed I had to hitchhike my way back into town.

Ever since, when I ride Mrazek, I plan it as an out-and-back from Shevlin Park. (Bikers can also shuttle to Tumalo Falls and descend Mrazek for 14 miles all the way back to the park, and that is indeed fun.)

Mrazek is a 14-mile trail that connects Shevlin Park to upper-elevation areas such as Happy Valley and Trail 99 on the edge of the Three Sisters Wilderness, which are likely still covered by snow.

This past Monday morning I started my ride from Shevlin Park, cruising past the lush, green vegetation that lines babbling Tumalo Creek. Mrazek connects to the Shevlin Park trails on the southwest end of the park.

Once on Mrazek, I climbed out of the park and the surroundings turned from bushy, creekside vegetation to more of a High Desert feel.

The section of Mrazek just above Shevlin Park includes a short segment that is quite rocky and technical, with jagged rocks jutting out of the singletrack.

After that section, the trail smoothed out and I rolled through a charred area that was the site of a recent controlled burn. The light-brown trail contrasted eerily with the black ash to the sides and on the trees.

As I continued along the trail, the vegetation eventually turned green again, but then I reached the site of the 2014 Two Bulls Fire, which burned nearly 11 square miles of mainly private timberland west of Bend.

The fired charred through about half a mile of Mrazek, and the trail was rerouted months later.

After riding about 9 miles, I made the decision to turn around.

Descending fast along Mrazek, I rode over a few small bumps and jumps and turned along the twisty curves of the pristine singletrack through the ponderosa pines and manzanita.

The entertaining, sustained downhill never seems to require a prolonged clenching of the brakes. Well-placed turns give the trail a flowing rhythm that never gets old. Most of the trail is smooth singletrack, with no exceedingly technical sections.

I eventually came to a swooping, downhill-only section, marked by a “Mrazek” sign. Designed by Phil ­Meglasson, of Phil’s Trail fame, this portion of the trail cuts through a ravine, with dips and rises all the way along a constant session of steep ups and downs while turning through the trees.

The descent into Shevlin Park along Mrazek always seems to go quicker than I expect. But by the time I reached the end of Mrazek, then biked back through Shevlin Park, I had been in the saddle for about three hours and 18 miles.

Meglasson was largely responsible for getting Mrazek built, beginning construction of the trail more than 25 years ago. With the help of the U.S. Forest Service, Mrazek was completed up to the Metolius-­Windigo Trail more than 10 years ago.

The Mrazek Trail got its name from Mrazek ­Cycles, a company formerly based in Bend. According to ­Meglasson, when the trail project was just getting started, Mrazek Cycles would help with the work and would give locals good deals on bikes.

Though the company is no longer in Central Oregon, Mrazek left its mark on a stretch of singletrack that local mountain bikers have come to love.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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