A favorite of Hood River locals in search of some of spring’s first snow-free spins, this rollicking singletrack circuit in the eastern fringes of the Mount Hood National Forest hits an encore sweet spot come fall. Drizzles and dropping mercury transform dusty trails into “hero dirt”: the gummy, tacky earth that lets knobby tires grip with their intended NASCAR-like tenacity. A relative lack of technical roots and rocks makes the trail an opportune training ground for novices, but speedy descents keep more advanced riders craving another round. So does the scenery: open meadows of wispy, silver-hued grass, iridescent-yellow ponderosa pines, and long views of thousands of green firs morphing into treeless high desert. (The observant may also notice the occasional “rider-improved” features, like log rails and ramps.) The cooling, calming presence of Eightmile Creek on the lower portion of the trail cinches this ride’s charismatic appeal.
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Slide Show: Cool Creek Trail