Phil's trail is the grandaddy of Bend, Oregon bike trails--a perfect sampler of the high desert single track that long ago earned Bend its reputation as a mountain biking mecca.
Bend is surrounded by thousands of acres of trail-filled wilderness so choosing a trail, if you're a visitor, can be overwhelming. Your best bet is to ask a local, which is what we did while eating dinner our first night in Bend. Our waiter called a line cook out who told us that he moved to Bend for one reason--to ride bike.
His advice: You can't go wrong on any of the trails, but the best place to start is Phil's Trail.
In the early '80s, trail-builder Phil Meglasson convinced his buddies to help him carve out a bike trail west of Bend. Today, Phil’s trail is the venerable keystone in an inter-linked stretch of single track that runs for hundreds of miles in Deschutes National Forest. Nearly every trail system west of Bend at some point feeds into Phil’s trail, so the end result is a massive spiderweb of riding possibilities.
"Nearly every trail system west of Bend at some point feeds into Phil’s trail, so the end result is a massive spiderweb of riding possibilities."
It was cold, painfully cold, when we arrived at the easy-to-find trailhead, which may explain why we practically had the whole complex to ourselves. But it was clear right away that Phil's trail was no secret--there were trail markers everywhere and the trail itself was buffed out in a way that only happens when there's an army of dedicated trail builders keeping watch.
The beauty of Phil's trail is that it offers a little bit of everything--rolling bumps, smooth berms, flow trail--which made it a perfect, albeit chilly, ride for our quick morning outing.
When you visit Bend, the must-do list is far from short. There's world-class climbing, epic snow at Mt. Bachelor, Class V whitewater, and blue ribbon fly fishing, all close to town. But we were only passing through, so we had to be judicious and trust the advice of a friendly local.
And he was right: A trip to Bend without a ride on Phil's Trail would be like a trip to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower--it's simply too iconic to miss.
Getting There: Phil’s Trail trailhead is approximately three miles from downtown Bend. From Drake Park, travel west on Galveston Avenue (which becomes Skyliners Drive) past Mt. Washington Drive until you reach a paved road on the left that is marked with a bike sign. The trailhead is a half-mile further down this paved road.