If there was a bucket list for mountain bike rides then the McKenzie River Trail would be on that list. It's not because the ride is super thrilling or technical but because of the surrounding scenic views that you get to take in while doing the ride. You spend the ride alongside the McKenzie River as well as riding over the river at several places. Most of the ride is spent in the trees as well providing shade from the heat if you do the ride in the summer.
McKenzie River Trail Video
McKenzie River Trail Review
Although the McKenzie River Trail is not super exciting it is still a fun ride because of the surrounding area. You won't see too many other people on the trail except for maybe at the beginning and at the end. There is one part by the blue pond that attracts a lot of people but you won't have too many hikers to watch out for. The lava rock section at the beginning is the most challenging part because it's sharp and requires some balance to try and ride through. There will be many parts where you will be walking through unless you are really good on rocky terrain. You also need to watch out for pinch flats on this section and it's advised that you bring a few extra tubes.
Other sections of the trail will have some fun rocky areas and some roots to conquer as well but for the most part it's pretty easy going. There are also some sections with some faster singletrack downhill runs but nothing too steep or too fast. There will also be some climbing to do but it's not too steep or too long and a decent rider shouldn't have to do much walking. For the most part the trail is pretty consistent with nothing too drastic to deal with.
One important thing to remember is to bring more than enough food and water because if you get low or run out you are not going to have a good time. The ride takes its toll on you after a while and if you don't have enough energy to keep you going then you will be wishing it was over. There is no place to stop for refills either unless you can find yourself something at the campground you will pass through.
The best way to do the ride is to take a shuttle to the top and then ride back down to your car at the bottom. There is a shuttle service provided by the McKenzie River Mountain Resort for around $30 per person depending on how many of you sign up. It's worth it rather than taking 2 cars and parking one at the top and then having to pick it up after you are done with the ride and tired and hungry.
McKenzie River Trail Pictures
Directions to the McKenzie River Trail
View McKenzie River Trail in a larger map (2 pages)
The McKenzie River Trail is located near the town of McKenzie Bridge east of Bend, OR off of Highway 126. To get there take the 5 Freeway towards Bend and then take exit 194A and merge into OR-126 East. From there you will stay on the 126 for a little over 50 miles and the end of the trail will be on the left just as you pass through McKenzie Bridge. There will be a paved turnout where you can park and that is where you meet up with the shuttle. From there it's another 22 miles to the trail head past Clear Lake which there is a parking lot for but it may not be too clearly marked or easy to find unless you are looking for it.