This loop combines one of the easiest trails in the Oakridge area with one of the most challenging. Be sure to enjoy the scenery along the smooth and relatively flat Salmon Creek Trail that starts the loop, because it is followed by a never-ending gravel road climb and a technically and physically demanding ridge trail before the final descent back into Oakridge. Don't be fooled into thinking everything will be easy once you finish the gravel road climb. The Heckletooth section of the Eugene to Crest Trail has plenty more ascent in store before topping out in a rocky meadow on top of Heckletooth Mountain. Take a break here and enjoy the expansive views of Bunchgrass Ridge and Diamond Peak to the east. Once you get back in the saddle, be ready for some white-knuckle descent. Most of the downhill is smooth and fast, but there are a number of steep, technical, and rocky sections to contend with.
This is a long, strenuous ride. The ridge section is remote and offers no opportunities for emergency egress. Come prepared for this one; bring plenty of water, food, tools and some extra layers in case there are any unforeseen circumstances.