I don’t know what paradise looks like for you, but I have a good idea of what it looks like for me. It includes a beautiful coastline, some rolling and rugged mountains that jut up against said beach, massive evergreen trees with fuzzy green trunks, and the best dirt on the planet blanketing the forest floor. But that’s just me. Enter Cannon Beach, the coastal community of 1,700 in beautiful northwest Oregon. Cannon is flanked to the east by the Oregon Coast Range, and of course the Pacific Ocean to the west. Cannon is most famous for its appearance in the venerable 1980’s classic adventure film, The Goonies, during a chase scene along the beach took place in the shadow of Haystack Rock, the 235 foot tall iconic landmark that sits about 100 feet off of the beach in the water. Cannon Beach, which is a part of the traditional territory of the Tillamook tribe, is a fairly quiet community despite being a popular tourist destination, and while very much anchored to the ocean benefits a great deal from its proximity to the mountains as well.
The Coast Range is a 200-mile-long, north to south running range that tops out at just over 4,000 feet above sea level at its highest point. The mountains are relatively young, having formed about 65 million years ago and they’re responsible for a rain shadow over neighboring Willamette Valley to the east, which means that most of the precipitation the Valley isn’t getting is in fact falling along the western slopes of the Coastal Range, which is exactly where we find the Klootchy Creek trail system.
Klootchy Creek County Park is home to what was once the largest tree in the state and is now a massive stump due to damage sustained during a 2007 storm. It is also home to a rapidly growing network of trails built and maintained by the North Coast Trail Alliance, and offers up a bevy of trail options which include plenty of flow lines, a properly fun jump line, and the trail featured here, the mile long rough and loamy descent called Defibrillator.
Defib is easily accessed via a 15-minute climb up a comfortably graded gravel road that meanders through a beautiful forest of hemlock, spruce, and cedar trees. Klootchy Creek is effectively divided into two sections: the westernmost area (rider’s left) will take you up to Defib and will also provide access to a couple of other short and loamy trails. To the east is where you’ll find some of the newest trails in the network so far, which tend to favor flow, jumps, berms, and other delightful trail attributes. When comparing Trailforks to the map at the trailhead kiosk, you’ll see that Trailforks isn’t entirely up to date, and with more and more trails being flagged and built, I suspect Trailforks will look very different sometime soon.
The riding itself is brilliant. The scale at Klootchy Creek is very manageable, but there’s enough vertical and miles to keep you happy, and the diversity between the trails is really quite impressive when you consider how young the network is. Of course, the proximity to the coast is something special, not just because of the range of recreational activities it presents, but also because of the ocean’s impact on the trails themselves. While this year has been a disastrously dry one for much of the American west and has seen some truly terrible fires raging across Oregon, the western slopes of the Coast Range benefit from the coastline being so close by. Summer highs rarely exceed the low 70’s (F), and the consistent precipitation leads to deep and lush forests as well as deep and lush dirt. Defibrillator in particular seems to celebrate these characteristics, as it sweeps down the fall line for much of the right, accented by lovely corner pockets, loads of off camber sections, and a handful of purpose built features to keep things lively.
The thing about Paradise is that it’s a very relative and subjective place. For me personally, it is really hard to beat those rare corners of the globe where the mountains and the sea coexist, and the convergence found along the northern coastline of Oregon is a perfectly realized embodiment of my love for both. It’s as rough and rugged as it is serene and beautiful, and of course the amazing trails check off one of my most important boxes. While the Pacific Northwest is renowned for its plethora of world class riding, the magnetism found in those unexpected corners will always draw my attention. Of course, my affinity for buried treasure, pirates, and Sloth doesn’t hurt either.
ABOUT BRICE SHIRBACH
Brice has been riding bikes professionally and sharing his adventures with others for close to a decade. He cut his teeth racing and riding up and down the east coast, and considers himself fortunate to explore some of the best trails and communities on the planet as a career. Brice produces content for Pinkbike.com, as well as many of his sponsors and partners, including PEARL iZUMi, Pivot Cycles, Maxxis Tires, and others. His greatest joy can be found at home in the form of his wife, Megan, and two boys, Logan and Henry.
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