On a sun-kissed weekend last June, mountain bikers across the Pacific Northwest descended on a trail system less than ten minutes east of Cannon Beach. While many who visit Oregon’s majestic coastline come for a variety of reasons, there are those intrepid adventurers who do so to try their hand at surfing in the Pacific Northwest. However, those visiting the coast to ride mountain bikes are also trying to ride a wave, but a dirt wave instead.

Ride the Dirt Wave Racer

Get ready for an adrenaline-fueled adventure as the Ride the Dirt Wave Enduro mountain bike race series returns for its second season! The journey begins at the Klootchy Creek County Park on June 8-9, followed by races at the Whiskey Run Trails in Coos County in July and the Wilder Trails and Big Creek Trails outside Newport in August. The race series website captures the essence of what makes this event unique, “Welcome to Ride the Dirt Wave, where we ride the crest of excitement through Oregon’s coastal trails! Join us as we explore the hidden gems of mountain biking along the stunning Oregon Coast.” What makes riding mountain bikes along Oregon’s coast so special?

Klootchy Creek Mountain Biking Trails

It wasn’t long ago when this race series could not have occurred. Why? These trails simply didn’t exist. For years, when people talked about mountain biking throughout the Pacific Northwest and across Oregon, most of the places mentioned were far from the coast. Among mountain bikers, the well-trafficked riding locations included places like Bend, Hood River, Ashland, and even small towns like Oakridge, which have built trails and grown their reputation for years. But ride along the coast? It wasn’t really a “thing.” However, that continues to change. Events, like Ride the Dirt Wave, are bringing needed attention to the growth of coastal trails and attracting riders who normally wouldn’t travel to the coast to ride bikes.

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As the inaugural Ride the Dirt Wave race kicked off last year at Klootchy Creek, there was a buzz among riders. While many have explored Oregon’s coastline, they haven’t visited to ride the trails. Countless racers discovered that there are not only trails along the Oregon coast but ones that are spectacularly built. In between race runs and after the race, racers chatted with one another about how much they loved the trails at Klootchy Creek. If one of the goals of the race series was to highlight trails along the coast, then mission accomplished. So, how did the trails get there in the first place?

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Most often, trails are built with a combination of professional trail builders and volunteers. Once the trails are built, volunteers are primarily responsible for maintaining them throughout the year. Klootchy Creek is under the umbrella and care of members from the North Coast Trail Alliance, a sub-chapter of the Northwest Trail Alliance. Klootchy Creek opened in July of 2019, and the trails are possible because of a partnership between Lewis and Clark Timberlands managed by NUVEEN Natural Capital, Clatsop County Parks, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Travel Oregon, Northwest Coast Trails Coalition, the City of Seaside, the City of Cannon Beach, Northwest Trail Alliance, and the North Coast Trail Alliance. Over the course of a year, there are countless work parties to care for these trails. Volunteers from coastal communities work side-by-side with those who venture out from the Portland metro to keep the trails at Klootchy Creek running smoothly. That often entails trimming vegetation, water mitigation, reinforcing berms, and more. It is a lot of work and a labor of love.

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Daniella Crowder started the Ride the Dirt Wave series. She also owns and directs Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO), a multi-day mountain bike festival in Oakridge. Daniella is putting on the upcoming Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival in collaboration with the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce. Interestingly, there’s overlap and commonality between Ride the Dirt Wave and MBO, and that is showcasing mountain bike trails and bringing in tourism dollars to smaller Oregon communities. Daniella (also owner of Bike Newport) shared, “As a small business owner on the Oregon Coast, we are thrilled to see active tourism as a new sector of visitors. Mountain bikers will bring their whole family, stay for a weekend, go out to eat, find a local brewery, and return to a spot they enjoy riding again and again, and we are hoping with our new event, Ride the Dirt Wave, we can expose a whole new area to people to come and explore!”

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More people are participating in outdoor recreation. According to the 2023 Outdoor Participation Trends Report, the number of people participating in outdoor recreation grew by 2.3% in 2022. That brings the total number of people who recreate outdoors to 168.1 million Americans. As Crowder noted, when mountain bikers come to the coast to ride, they also stay longer, go out to eat, and more. That brings more economic benefits to coastal communities. While innumerable people visit the Oregon coast each year to recreate, adding mountain bike trails means enticing even more people.

Cyclists represent a growing segment of outdoor recreation. There has been a 22.9% growth in all biking categories. Simply put, that means more people are opting to recreate on two wheels. When there are more trails along the coast, it will attract this growing segment to recreate in these communities. That bodes well for these communities, which is why the Ride the Dirt Wave series is essential. According to the Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Oregon report, “Outdoor recreation is an important and significant part of Oregon’s overall economy. Spending on outdoor recreation in Oregon totaled $15.6 billion in 2019 and had GDP contributions equal to 6% of Oregon’s economy.”

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Ride the Dirt Wave and other events like it are working hard to promote new trails and riding opportunities. Again, one of the end goals is to continue to grow tourism, which is a lifeblood for coastal communities. And yet, even among an active mountain biking crowd in Oregon, many had never ridden these trails before. Daniella shared,

Ride the Dirt Wave was a huge success in its first year. Our main purpose was to highlight the coastal mountain bike trails, bike clubs, and trail builders and introduce them to new people. The first event at Klootchy Creek had over 100 riders attend, and 80% of them had never been to the trails before. We saw the trend continue at the second event at Whiskey Run, where over 150 people attended, and many had never been to the area to ride. I spoke with many riders and was surprised to find that even some locals had never been out to the trails before, but a majority of them had never been from the northern part of the state. One group of riders from the Seaside area told me they would never have gone to Whiskey Run Trails if it hadnt been for the Dirt Wave event, but now they plan to return! The final event in Newport had over 100 riders, and since we were unveiling our new trails, well over 80% of riders had never ridden the new system in Newport.


While the economic benefits of events such as Ride the Dirt Wave are essential, they might be a distant thought to those who come to ride and race. Their goal? To stand on the podium. Even amid the competition, racers cheered each other on. Often, there were high-fives and pats on the back after a race segment. While they were competitors with the goal of winning, one could not stifle the thrill of riding on well-thought-out trails. With perfect weather and riding conditions, it was hard not to smile, even while racing and competing.

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The festivities concluded with food trucks, giveaways, and awards for the winners. As everyone lounged on the grassy lawn at the trailhead, the overall vibe was more of a family reunion than a competition. Statements like, “Great job. You got me this time, but I’m coming after you at the next race” were overheard, accompanied by smiles, laughter, and playful bantering. Ride the Dirt Wave celebrates everything that makes riding on the coast unique, from meeting new friends to enjoying local cuisine and brews to enjoying another growing reason why Oregon’s coast continues to draw visitors from all over the state, region, country, and world. As the race series kicks off next month nearby at Klootchy Creek, why not come out and see what the excitement is about? Maybe you, too, will be enticed to ride the dirt wave.

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Earth Economics. (2021). Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Oregon. Travel Oregon.

Outdoor Industry Association. (2023). 2023 Outdoor Participation Trends Report.