The first single-track mountain bike destination on the Southern Oregon Coast is located a few miles north of Bandon. Just far enough from town for a sense of escape, Whiskey Run trails wind through Coos County Forest, home to a wide array of trees and plant species.
“You’re going to travel through different ages of forest,” said Erin Kessler.
Kessler is co-owner of Pineapple Express Adventure Rides, and Ptarmigan Ptrails, in Port Orford. As secretary for the Wild River Coast Mountain Bicycling Association, she’s eager to introduce riders to the new mountain bike destination.
The trails are open year round. Cyclists get to experience a working forest and ride beneath trees at various ages and stages of growth. Dense stands of mature trees offer a thick canopy of branches with lush undergrowth. Newer growth lets in more sunlight, which makes for a dusty trail during the summer months. But, Kessler points out those trails are also the first to dry out in the rainy season.
“People get a sense of place and time. You can see the regrowth and regeneration through the harvest cycles,” she said.
Since the trails opened in November 2017, Kessler has met local visitors to Whiskey Run and cyclists from around U.S. and Canada. The inaugural Whiskey Run Mountain Bike Festival in June 2018 welcomed more than 100 registrants, and riders are excited by a new outdoor recreation option in the Coos County Forest.
Whiskey Run features more than 10 miles of single-track two-way trails ranging from beginner to intermediate difficulty.
Trail intersections are marked for easy navigation. Cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets and be courteous: Downhill traffic should yield to uphill traffic, and pedestrians should yield to cyclists.
Riders may use pedal assist e-bikes, but no motorized or throttle bikes. Nearby gravel and dirt forestry access roads are open to cyclists who want to extend their ride. (Forest service roads are closed to motorized public traffic.)
Experienced mountain bikers may want to plan a nighttime excursion. Confident riders can safely navigate the trails after dark with a little illumination, said Kessler. She recommends, at minimum, a 250-lumen helmet or bicycle headlamp.
“It’s a totally different experience at night,” she said.
The gravel parking area is marked by a sign and map. Parking and trail access are free. The nearest public restrooms are located at the Whiskey Run Wayside beach access. Trails are open all year, but weather and safety conditions may require temporary closure of some trails.
“I love the idea of people being able to get out and see our forest,” said Melissa Cribbins, Coos County Commissioner.
Whiskey Run riders can immerse themselves in nature and learn how the Coos County Forestry Department maintains a healthy forest. Planned additions to the trail system include interpretive signs to point out the different tree and plant species.
New grant applications are already in the works to fund expansion, according to Cribbins. Organizers are investigating ocean-view trail segments, for a truly unique Oregon Coast mountain bike experience.
The trail system represents community-wide engagement. And Cribbins expressed her appreciation for those who suspended their disbelief to endorse mountain bike trails as a recreational amenity for South Coast residents and tourists.
In addition to participation by the county and forestry department, the project received grants from the Oregon Parks Department and Regional Solutions. Additional support came from businesses and organizations such as Business Oregon, Southern Oregon Workforce Investment Board, Travel Oregon and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.
Members of the Wild Rivers Coast Mountain Bicycling Association are involved in project planning, events and hands-on volunteer trail work.
What to Know Before You Go
Driving Directions: Take Seven Devils Road west, off U.S. Highway 101, 4.2 miles north of Bandon. Follow on Seven Devils Road 2.8 miles. Turn left onto Whiskey Run Lane, follow .3 miles. Continue onto Whiskey Run Road, and follow .5 miles to parking area. Google Maps
Bikes & Pedestrians: Mountain and fat tire bikes are recommended. Pedal assist e-bikes are welcome; no motorized or throttle bikes. Trails are pedestrian-friendly.
Distance: Multiple trail segments; nearby forestry access roads are bike-friendly.
Parking: Gravel parking lot at trailhead
Cost: Free parking and trail access
Difficulty: Multiple beginner (green) and intermediate (blue) trails
Trail Maps & Elevations: MTB Project
Article by Geneva Miller. Photos by Colton Jacobs (trail) and Jason Fitzgibbon (trailhead), courtesy of Oregon Coast Visitors Association.