West Hills of Corvallis
This area begins on the western edge of Corvallis, just beyond the Benton County Fairgrounds. It consists of a patchwork of public-owned parklands and private land conservation areas, including:
Bald Hill Natural Area (City of Corvallis)
Bald Hill Farm / Mulkey Ridge Trail (Greenbelt Land Trust)
Fitton Green Natural Area (Benton County)
Cardwell Hill Wagon Road (Benton County)
Brief descriptions of these areas
Bald Hill Natural Area (City of Corvallis): A paved bike path skirts the east side of this area. Most of the trails on Bald Hill are most appropriate for hiking. However, there are several gravel trails that are bikeable, including: the Mulkey Ridge Trail, the County Connector, Oak Savannah Trail. The latter provides a cool little "cut through" from the paved bike path to a neighborhood to the west of Bald Hill.
Bald Hill Farm / Mulkey Ridge Trail (Greenbelt Land Trust): Much of Bald Hill Farm is not regularly open to the public. However, the Mulkey Ridge Trail traverses the farm as it climbs over 600' for 3 miles from the Oak Creek Trailhead to Fitton Green. This trail is quite bikeable. (Note: Bikes are prohibited on the Mulkey Ridge Trail between 10/31 and 4/15).
Fitton Green Natural Area (Benton County): This park sits at an elevation of more than 1000', which is at least 700' above the surrounding area. It has a large open meadow that affords dramatic views of Philomath to the south, Marys Peak to the west, and (on a clear day) the Cascade Mountains to the east. A trail to the north connects Fitton Green with Cardwell Hill Drive and the Crestmont Land Trust.
Cardwell Hill Wagon Road (Benton County) (Ride with GPS route): This is an old stagecoach route that climbs over the hill between Corvallis and Kings Valley. In about 1.5 miles it climbs over 500' with grades often in the 10-15% range. The road is about 5 miles long, and the middle 2.5 miles is closed to motor vehicles. This is one of the ways to begin a ride from Corvallis to the Coast.
Crestmont Land Trust: This is on the west side of this area. Much of it is on steep hill sides, although there are some less steep areas, and there is a nice trail that affords good views of the Marys River. Here is a route in the Crestmont Land Trust.
There are a number of possibilities for rides in this area. I will feature two:
Bald Hill to Fitton Green Loop (Ride with GPS route): This is a 8 mile loop with about 1200' of climbing. It goes from the Oak Creek Trailhead to Fitton Green, following the Mulkey Ridge Trail and returning via Panorama Drive and Wynoochee Drive. (Note: Bikes are prohibited on the Mulkey Ridge Trail between 10/31 and 4/15).
Cardwell Hill Drive (Benton County) (Ride with GPS route): This route is simply a climb over Cardwell Hill. It is about 5 miles and nearly 800' of climbing one way.
Cardwell Hill & Harris Road
Description: This is a fun ride that passes by 3 wineries (Cardwell Hill Cellars, Lumos Wine Company, and Harris Bridge Vinyards). It starts at the parking area at the end of Cardwell Hill Dr. It briefly heads east along the Marys River before backtracking and heading west toward the town of Wren. Then, it continues west on Harris Rd. The last part of the route is a jaunt along the south side of the Marys River (for which you will want to pick up a Starker Forest permit).
24 mile round trip with about 1000' of climbing.
Starting point: The parking area at the end of Cardwell Hill Dr.
Distance from Corvallis to starting point: 14 miles.
Alternate starting points: One option is to use the parking area at the intersection of Hwy 20 and Hwy 223 in Wren.
Extensions: For a longer adventure, you can start at the Corvallis side of Cardwell Hill Road. There is a parking area at a gate where the road is closed to motorized vehicles. This would add about 4 miles and 750' of climbing to the route. If you want to avoid climbing 550' in a little more than a mile, an alternative would be to return to Corvallis via Hwy 20 to Philomath (exercise caution because this section of 20 is narrow and has a lot of traffic).
Mulkey Ridge to Fitton Green
Description: This route follows the single track Mulky Ridge Trail to the beautiful vistas at Fitton Green Natural Area. The trail is only open to bikes from April 15 to October 31.
Starting point: You can start this one from anywhere in Corvallis. The route shown here starts at the north parking area at Bald Hill.