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John, left, and Karen Poole ride the High Lakes Trail between Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake. MT file photo

Five cool bike rides for a hot summer

A hot summer can be a tough time for mountain bikers. It's the time of year we most like to play, but overheating is no fun. These five trail systems, all worthy destinations in their own right, offer varying combinations of shade, elevation, potential swimming and general coolness.{br class="hardreturn" /}
1. Briggs Valley{br class="hardreturn" /}
This remote, sheltered valley in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest west of Grants Pass is home to the renowned Return of the Jedi trail, but it's also a great place to go to beat the heat while riding your bike alongside — or through — some cool mountain streams.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The expansive but primitive Sam Brown campground, site of an all-but-vanished mining boomtown — serves as a hub for the trail system, which consists of two main trails: Taylor Creek Trail and Briggs Creek Trail, and their various spurs and detours. Each trail follows its namesake creek for miles, crossing it several times, so you get plenty of opportunities to take a dip or just throw some water on your head. But you may not even need to do that, as the riparian areas along the creeks maintain a pleasant temperature.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Road riding can also be done on the windy Forest Service 25, which runs all the way from Galice to Highway 199 just north of Selma.{br class="hardreturn" /}
2. Brown Mountain{br class="hardreturn" /}
Bike trails going over the lava flows of a cinder cone volcano might not sound like the most forgiving spot to ride in the summer, but the trails around Brown Mountain are of such elevation and proximity to Lake of the Woods that they qualify as a summer ride.{br class="hardreturn" /}
High Lakes Trail, which runs between connects Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods, is great for leisurely riding. A level, packed-gravel surface lets riders enjoy the scenery, including views of Mount McLoughlin. The more challenging Brown Mountain Trail makes a seven-mile loop to the south.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Both trails generally stay shaded, but occasionally will ride across lava rock. Keep pedaling, and don't let the dark rocks cook you alive. Elevation of 4-5,000 feet should keep things cooler than the valley, and after your ride you can go swim or just relax at beautiful Lake of the Woods.{br class="hardreturn" /}
3. North Umpqua Trail{br class="hardreturn" /}
Just about anywhere north of the Rogue Valley is guaranteed to be cooler, and you're sure to shed a few degrees once you hit Roseburg. {br class="hardreturn" /}
The epic 79 miles of singletrack that is the North Umpqua Trail runs along the Umpqua River for its whole length, beginning near the town of Glide. The trail should be ridden in chunks, either out-and-back or with a shuttle. {br class="hardreturn" /}
This lush trail will have you riding alongside countless mossy rock faces and waterfalls, under old-growth Douglas fir that help to block out the sun. And for the lower part of the trail at least, the waters of the Umpqua are readily accessible to cool yourself off if need be.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Don't be scared by the trail section dubbed Dread and Terror (it was so named because of forest rangers' fears of white thornbrush, not gnarly trail features). Most of the trail is suited to the intermediate mountain biker.{br class="hardreturn" /}
4. Applegate Lake{br class="hardreturn" /}
It seems like Applegate Lake has been the de facto destination for Rogue Valley mountain bikers for decades. Although it is at a relatively low elevation, the classic loop is a good summer ride simply for its proximity to the lake.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The 17-mile loop is mostly easy rolling and winding singletrack, with a few miles of road riding to finish the loop. Other spur trails can extend the ride, and the Little Grayback and Cook and Green trails climb up and away from the lake.{br class="hardreturn" /}
If the lake doesn't look inviting, you could try dipping your toes into one of the few streams that feed the lake on its southwest end. For extended coolness, leave your spandex on when you take the plunge.{br class="hardreturn" /}
5. Carpenterville{br class="hardreturn" /}
One surefire way to beat the heat in the summer is to head to the coast. Unfortunately, there aren't many opportunities for trail rides. That's why this is the only exclusive road ride on the list.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Carpenterville Road cuts inland from Brookings, beginning at the mill on the north end of town. It stays near the coast while avoiding the traffic of Highway 101, making it a great little diversion even if you are just driving through the area. {br class="hardreturn" /}
The 18-mile stretch climbs for a ways, offering great views of the coast and a rejuvenating sea breeze. It passes through Carpenterville, a former milling settlement-turned ghost down, before making a fast descent down into Pistol River. Stock up on sustenance at the Pistol River store, and relax on the beach before hopping in your shuttle or making the ride back on 101.{br class="hardreturn" /}

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