2-Day Bikepacking Trip in Mehama, OR: Exploring Shellburg and Silver Creek Falls

The Map

Want the GPX version of the map or just more detail?  Click here.

The Ride

Although I’ve ridden most of the trails around Shellburg Falls, this weekend was my first time extensively exploring Silver Creek Falls’ network of all-purpose trails, as well as some of the forest roads east of both Shellburg and Silver Creek.  It turns out, Oregon.gov has some incredibly detailed maps of Oregon’s network of forest roads, which I definitely plan on using for some fun snow bikepacking trips this winter when singletrack is a mucky mess.  You have to dig a little to find the maps, so instead, I’ll just include the link:


The map I printed for the ride. Shellburg is just out of the picture on the bottom left, and Sillver Falls State Park is just out of the picture center left.

For this particular trip, I left mid-morning for Shellburg Falls, biked up to a campsite about a mile past the falls, and claimed the best real estate for that night.  The campsite is one of the best I’ve been to and only costs $5 compared to the usual fee of $18.

The ride starts on private land, winding its way up a gravel road until there’s a turnoff for the falls.

The campsite.

My roomy bedchamber.

I then proceeded to bike some of the trails in the Silver Creek Falls area, which surprisingly are linked to Shellburg, it’s just that not many people know how to bridge the gap.  For those who know the area, I took Lost Creek Trail to Buck Mountain Loop, and then branched off onto the Perimeter Trail for a while until getting to Rackett Ridge, which I followed for a while until I mistakenly turned towards Camp Silver Creek and had to take an unmarked fire road to get back to the Buck Mountain Loop and, eventually, back to Lost Creek Trail.  When all was said and done, I biked about 27 miles and climbed a little under 5,000 feet.

Still a few more miles of uphill gravel.

And then this.

And this!

AND … this?! Yep. One of the downfalls of multi-purpose trails is the inevitable piles of horse crap.

But it’s totally worth it.

Despite Oregon’s drought, the vegetation in and around Silver Falls State Park is still quite green.

And the vegetation in some parts of the trail appear to be growing faster than the trail clearing volunteers can keep up with.

Getting here was a complete accident.

My punishment for getting lost was this unforgivably steep fire road.

Back on track.

Because I had some daylight left, I also rode part of the freeride trail network back in the Shellburg Falls area, which was both thrilling and terrifying.  Some of it was just plain out of my league, but I had a great time riding one of the easier routes and imagining the crazies with a deathwish flying off jumps that rose above my head.  I think I’ll save that kind of riding for when I turn 30 and life’s not worth living anymore.

Black diamonds in a freeride area are MUCH different than black diamonds on a regular mountain biking trail.

I’ll start with the beginner’s route, thank you very much.

[Gulp]… this is a beginner’s trail? I could hardly touch the top of this jump standing below it. Definitely walked around this obstacle.

Doable, but frightening.

When I got back to camp, my dad was unpacking his backpack and setting up his tent.  We had planned to rendezvous at this little campsite for some father/son bonding time, he by backpack and me my bikepack.  We had a great evening and morning playing games, drinking whisky, and chatting by the fire.

My dad is not into the whole ‘packing light’ thing. He packed in over 2 pounds of hash-browns, 2 pounds of hamburger, a pound of applesauce, four eggs, spices galore, and oatmeal. You might say he was my pack mule for this trip.

Plus he brought this tent mansion.

I could fit about two of my tents inside this one!

Time for dinner.

Hobo dinner = Hashbrowns, cut up carrots and greens, hamburger, spices.

Hors D’oeuvres.

The finished product, with applesauce for dessert.

Then games.

And more fire.

The next morning was a bit drizzly, but luckily dad and I both avoided getting wet until we had eaten breakfast and everything had been packed and rain-proofed.  I decided to explore a bit of the forest roads in the area but didn’t make it very far before deciding that the rain was more than I had bargained for and hurried back down the mountain to my car.

My water boiling method is a bit more archaic than my dad’s.

But it works.

Breakfast = Hashbrowns, hamburger, 2 eggs.

Then it was time to pack up.

And beat the rain home.

The Shellburg/Silver Creek area is a great year-round bikepacking/mountain biking destination, and I will definitely make a return trip to Shellburg’s vast forest road network when the dark and dreary days of winter are upon me and a good dose of nature is needed to help me persevere.

Categories: Oregon Bikepacking, Pedals and Packs

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4 replies »

  1. I have hike Shellburg once and ridden the Buck Mountain loop with Eric. But what you just did I want to do. It looks great. I want Tony to come along too as it is always nice to have someone who doesn’t believe in packing light!

    • I’d be happy to accompany you on a ride like this if you were looking for a guide Leon! It’s beautiful, but you do have to be ready for a fair bit of climbing. There are some great camping locations off the beaten path a bit too, if you didn’t want to pay for a campsite.

      I’m sure my dad would be your pack mule if you were hoping to have a deluxe dinner after the ride as well.

  2. Hi Ben, I’m happy I came across this post. I hike Shellburg pretty regularly. In your opinion, if you went in a pretty straight shot between Shellburg and Silver Falls, how long would it take a person on foot? I’m fit and can usually hike the Shellburg area in 20 min miles. Thanks! Carlea

    • Hi Carlea – thanks for the shout-out! a 3mph average is a pretty good pace for the hills leading up to Shellburg Falls. If you wanted to hike straight over to Silver Creek Falls, you’re looking at roughly an 7+ mile hike, depending on where you’re headed; I’m guessing you’d head to the South Falls day use area parking lot via the Buck Mountain Loop and some connecting trails. Either way, you’re going to gain almost 1,500 feet of elevation heading towards Buck Loop, and then drop quite a bit as well heading back towards the day use area. If you took the trails instead of the gravel road at Shellburg (August Mountain Trail and Lost Creek Trail), the overall gain would probably be even higher. It would be a tough day, but you could probably hike to the day use area in 4 to 5 hours. That’s a lot of estimating, but there you go. Happy trails!

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