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Underexposed: Gold Beach, OR – Mountain Bike Blog Post

I I don’t know what paradise looks like to you, but I have a good idea what it looks like to me. It includes a beautiful coastline, some rolling and rugged mountains rising onto the beach, huge evergreen trees with fluffy green trunks and the best soil in the world covering the forest floor. But that’s just me. Enter Gold Beach, the coastal community of 2,241 residents on Oregon’s stunning southern coast. Gold Beach is flanked by the Oregon Coast Range to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is not particularly close to any major population centers. Medford, OR is the closest city and is over three hours away by car. The state’s largest city is 6 hours from Gold Beach. The good news is that the drive will be as scenic as it gets from virtually anywhere. Land and sea collide along the coast every second of every day. The result is a landscape straight out of the pages of your favorite Dr. Seuss seems to have crafted trees as far as the eye can see.

As magnetic as the Pacific is, the mountains east of Gold Beach exert their own pull. The Siskiyou Mountains are a subregion of the Klamath Mountains, which stretch approximately 100 miles from the Rogue River in the northernmost section to the Northern California town of Crescent City at the southern end. The mountains are relatively young and were formed around 65 million years ago. While they are not particularly high mountains, they are steep, rugged, and receive abundant rainfall, particularly in the western part of the range. The pavement ends just a few miles east of town, and as you drive along the Rogue River into the mountains toward the trails, you immediately realize that you’re heading to a place not many people have seen firsthand.

The Pine Grove Trail ends at the confluence of two Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Illinois River and the Rogue River. In fact, Oregon’s southern coast has more wild and scenic rivers than anywhere else in the country. In 1968, Congress protected rivers with “outstanding notable values ​​(ORVs) in free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.” The National Park Service oversees this system, with the Rogue River as one of the eight original Wild and Scenic Rivers forming the heart of the entire Wild Rivers Coast in 1968.

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3,000 feet above this convergence is the summit of Seven Mile Peak, where the start of Pine Grove lies. Pine Grove loses nearly 3,000 feet of relief over the course of a 6-mile backcountry descent through old growth stands of the Siskiyou National Forest. The riding itself is brilliant. It’s a backcountry-only descent, which means you’ll definitely need to do some pedaling. The descent begins as a fast and flowing double trail before becoming considerably narrower and a bit more technical. During the summer months there is a stretch where you can expect warm temperatures and dry ground, but most of the year it is pleasantly cool, with moist ground and greasy rocks and roots. Most of the path is flat and has a slight slope from time to time. Occasionally the path follows the fall line for short portions of the ride, accentuated by nice corner pockets that redirect and allow you to maintain your speed. Earlier this year, Eddie Kessler of Ptarmigan Trails completely rebuilt the lower section of the trail and added a special touch to the ride. It was still a little soft when I filmed there, but once it goes through a full freeze-thaw cycle and is seasoned in the spring and summer of 2024, it will be absolutely crisp.

The fact that this path even exists is something of a miracle. While 2023 was devastatingly dry for much of the Pacific Northwest, Curry County experienced three massive fires over the summer, with the 30,000-acre shallow fire directly impacting the trail and adjacent communities.

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“It hit us really hard this year” Dave Lacey says of the fire outbreak. “It burned right next to Pine Grove and it also burned down some of these other trails that we’ve been working to rehabilitate and reopen. The Flat Fire grew from zero to 30,000 acres in less than a month and shut down everything in the forest for a while.”

Dave owns South Coast Tours, a fishing, paddling and mountain biking guiding service operating out of Gold Beach and neighboring Port Orford. He is also a board member of the Wild Rivers Coast Mountain Bike Association, a 501c3 representing the southern Oregon coast from Coos Bay to Brookings at the California state line.


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