Why it’s great: 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.
Don’t forget: Riding the loop clockwise (from the upper trailhead sign) results in slightly less climbing. For a longer outing, link up with the intersecting Knebal Springs Trail.
Post-hike watering hole: Pfriem Family Brewers A year after opening along Hood River’s Waterfront Park, this standout brewery is already a destination for beer geeks. Look for Belgian offerings like the citrusy and sessionable Little Saison or the more fortifying Belgian Strong Ale, a toffee-laden belly-warmer rocking more than 10 percent ABV. 707 Portway Ave, Suite 101, Hood River
Trailhead directions: From Hood River take Highway 35 south for 26 miles. Turn left on Dufur Mill Road (Forest Road 44), drive 9.9 miles to the unpaved (and unmarked) Forest Road 4430, and turn left. Continue straight just a few feet to the well-signed trailhead. NW Forest Pass required.