We’re pleased to share with the wired world our favorite “mountain” bike trail ride in Camp Sherman, Oregon (it’s almost totally flat, which is the way we like our “mountain” biking, better termed off-road biking)). Since we haven’t seen this ride described elsewhere, this seems to give us the right to name it.
I briefly considered something close to my heart, like Brian’s Trail, but I’d rather save my fifteen minutes of naming fame for something more dramatic, like a heretofore undiscovered chemical element (Brianhinesium, I like the sound of it.)
So I’m calling this the Camp Sherman Creeks and Coffee Trail. Creeks, because you have to cross several of them, which makes this an ideal summer trail. Coffee, because the trail passes by the Camp Sherman store, which offers lattes and such along with every bit of fly-fishing paraphernalia you could ever want. When we get home I’ll try to remember to make a map, scan it, and add it to this posting. For now, the word map of the trial follows a few photos.
[July 31: Hey, it took me six weeks, but I did it. Here's a map (176 kb) that shows the overall lay of the land for the Creeks to Coffee Trail. Note that you can continue on the Metolius-Windigo Trail for a long ways, probably right up to the Jefferson Wilderness, if you keep going on the M-W Trail rather than turning right down the red dirt road to the Camp Sherman bike path. We've ridden up to First Creek. It's not as pretty as the greener and wetter territory at the start of the Creeks and Coffee trail, and there are more roots and rocks, but still well worth exploring.]
This ride is suitable for all ages and biking skills. The sole near-necessity is someone willing to wear Teva-like sandals or other shoes he or she doesn’t mind getting wet. In our case, that would be me.
(Note: To head off comments on this post from the Bicycle Safety folks, yes, I realize sandals and a cap are not sanctioned biking attire. However, we ride this loop slowly; it is flat; and none of it is ridden on a paved road.)
There are bridges or logs across most of the wet spots, but it is a lot more fun and easier to wade the creeks, bike in hand. Laurel dressed for today’s ride quite differently than I did, just as she often watches TV in sweat pants and a sweatshirt, wrapped up in a blanket, while I’m perfectly comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. But don’t women have more body fat and deal with cold better? Not in our house, or on our bike rides. Well, vive le difference.
The difference today meant that I got to carry our bikes across the creeks. They’re cold this time of year, yet blessedly narrow.
OK, on to the trail description. First, you have to get to Camp Sherman. I’ll leave that to you to figure out (hint: it’s in central Oregon, near Sisters). There was a big fire in the area last summer. Thankfully, it didn’t get to the Creeks and Coffee Trail, so you’ll have a pristine biking experience.
This being a circle ride, you can start anywhere and come back to where you started. I’ll start from Potlatch Lane, which takes off to the left across from the wooden “Welcome to Camp Sherman” sign on the right side of the road as you approach Camp Sherman (near a speed limit sign with orange markers on it, and pay attention to the limit; there isn’t much crime in Camp Sherman, so Sheriff Dave has time to catch speeders). Another good place to start would be from the Camp Sherman store, where you can rent mountain bikes by the day.
Head down Potlatch Lane, a red dirt road that skirts the edge of the Metolius Meadows development. Keep going past the houses until the road turns to the left. You keep going straight, onto the Metolius Windigo Trail, marked with yellow diamonds on tree trunks (note: when a yellow diamond trail marker is angled, that means the trail takes a turn). The trail is a little hard to see after you leave the dirt road, but just keep going straight and you’ll find it.
Turn right across a creek (this has a bridge), following the markers. Stay to the left at the first trail fork, as the angled marker indicates (the right fork leads into Metolius Meadows). This is a beautiful mostly single-track ride through the woods and across several creeks. If you don’t want to wade, usually you can carry your bike across a log or a bridge, but if you’ve got somebody along who doesn’t mind getting his or her feet wet, that makes the crossings easier.
Eventually the trail will veer off to the right onto single-track. There are some pieces of wood across the double-track to warn you that you should turn if you want to stay on the marked trail. It soon runs into a red dirt road. Turn right (down) the road. On the left side you’ll soon see yellow markers, showing where the Metolius Windigo trail continues on (this is a nice ride also, but not part of the official Creeks and Coffee Trail).
Keep going down the red dirt road, which curves along gently downhill. When you run into the paved main road, cross it and join the gravel Camp Sherman bike path that runs along the side of the paved road. Turn left on the bike path, unless you want to take a detour and visit the Community Hall and fire station visible just down the road to the right.
The bike path winds along and through the woods. Not to grandmother’s house, unless she happens to live in Camp Sherman, but to another paved road and the Camp Sherman church/school. Ride on the shoulder of the paved road for a short distance to the church. Look across the street and you’ll see a trail leading into the woods, which you’ll take. Go straight past a driveway to a cabin bordering the road. Watch out for the wooden jumps put in by some kids (I assume). I get some air on them, but Laurel chickens out and rides past them.
This trail winds through the woods until it reaches a power sub-station, the ugliest thing you’ll see on this ride. Continue past the sub-station to the gravel electrical line access road, and turn right. This takes you a short distance to the end of the bike path, where you’ll turn left and cross a bridge across the Metolius to the Camp Sherman store. Take a break here. Get some coffee, ice cream, Red Bull, whatever. Sit a spell on the benches outside. Soak up the “downtown” Camp Sherman atmosphere.
Then, when the spirit strikes you, get back on your bike and head upstream on the red dirt road that borders the Metolius. It’s a steady slight uphill, about a mile to the end of the road and a bridge. You’ll turn to the right across the bridge onto the Tract C road. Keep to the left past the bridge (road to the right is a dead-end). Now you come to a choice. You can stay on the gravel road all the way to Potlatch Lane, where you started the ride (if that’s where you started, of course).
But we like to take a trail that starts across from the “24” marker a short ways from where the road turns to the left after you cross the bridge. (All the cabins have numbers). Look to the right where you see the “24” marker on the left, and you’ll see the trail going off into the woods. Follow it straight past a butte, and keep going straight as the trail follows along a fence that marks some private property. Eventually you’ll come to the main road and the Camp Sherman gravel bike path. Turn left on the path until you reach Potlatch.
And that’s the Creeks and Coffee Trail! Enjoy. It really is a lot of fun. Takes us about an hour and a half to ride, at our rather leisurely biking pace.
Check back here for the map if I haven’t put it up by the time you read this. I’d advise getting the Imus Geographics “Metolius River Black Butte and Green Ridge” map at the Camp Sherman store (or elsewhere) and study it before you start your ride. I’ll probably use an enlarged portion of this map to make my own trail map when I get back to civilization and a Kinko’s. It’s the best resource for navigating around the Camp Sherman area.