WESTFIR, Ore. - The name Alpine echoes across the Internet as a must-ride trail in Oakridge.
That is, when it's not on fire.
"The Evangeline fire is about 25 acres, it's further up the valley, you can't see it," said Tom Berglund with the South Cascade Interagency Management Team. "But the Buckhead fire, you can see, is about 15 acres and that's the one that's closest to town."
That's the fire closing the lower segment of the famed Alpine trail.
The same steep terrain that makes the ride fun for mountain bikers is causing trouble for fire crews, Berglund said.
"Logs will catch on fire, pine cones will catch on fire, different things catch on fire and fall down, and then from that point, the fire will grow up again," he said.
Crews are planning some controlled burns on Friday to lock the fire into one area.
Until then, mountain bikers should consult the locals for options.
"It doesn't totally sever everything off," Derrick Bell at Willamette Mountain Mercantile on Highway 58 told KVAL News. "We just can't ride the bottom half of this trail, and the bottom half is some of the better parts of the trail."
But that doesn't mean Alpine is a no-go. You just have to plot a different route.
"Yes there is a fire on Alpine, but we are still open. Our clients just need to ride Alpine, Tire Mt, Cloverpatch (ATC)," Oregon Adventures posted Monday.
The crew at Oregon Adventures will know what is what. They help riders make the most of Oakridge by arranging trail shuttles, which save clients one of two things:
- Time/gas driving their own shuttle; or
- Time/energy spent riding the route as road-to-trail out-and-back
Bell updated the Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards (GOATS) page around noon Thursday. "It sounds like they are getting a handle on the fire and doing everything possible to get in control."
Between fire and firefighting traffic, however, mountain bikers should check with GOATS, the Mercantile or Oregon Adventures before you tackle the Alpine trail - or to select an alternative.
"Right now the high country is opening up, the Waldo Lake area, the Timpanagos Lakes area, so there's a bunch of trail up there that are good to ride this time of year," Bell said.
That's part of the appeal for Mountain Bike Oregon, a twice-per-summer encampment expected to bring 350 mountain bikers to town in a little over a week.
Bell said Alpine trail is a signature trail, but if the fire's still burning at that time, they'll be forced to ride elsewhere.
"The Forest Service is working on that, they understand that trail is pretty key to what we're doing here, so they're making every effort to get it back up and running again by that weekend," he said.