Written by | Derek Carlson

6 Great Mountain Bike Trails for Kids Around Bend

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Looking at the backs of cars traveling to Bend during the summer months tells the story of how popular mountain biking is in this town. It feels like every car, truck, van, and camper has a set of mountain bikes strapped to the back.

The popularity is well deserved as the Bend area has 100s of miles of well-maintained mountain bike trails to choose from. Luckily for us parents, many of those miles are over mellow terrain that is perfect for beginners and kids alike.

As the parent of a 5-year-old who is just getting into mountain biking, we’ve ridden dozens of miles of trails together and compiled a list of the best kid-friendly mountain bike trails in the area.

Here’s how we have evaluated the trails for our little ripper

Elevation gain/loss

This is usually the first thing I look at when evaluating a new trail before a ride. While 400 feet of elevation gain may not feel like much for an experienced rider, it can quickly sap the energy of a young rider.

Technical Terrain

We look for trails that are 95% flow, as most technical obstacles mean a dismount and walk. Doing this a few times during a ride isn’t bad, but too many can really add up over time. We like having some rock features or small root drops, though so our little one can work on his technical skills.

Length

Length isn’t as much of a factor as a 4-mile ride with elevation can be a whole lot tougher on our little one than a flat 10-mile ride. We have found that 5 – 7 miles are a nice sweet spot as that length usually doesn’t require a snack stop or ending up with the last mile or two turning into a suffer-fest that requires promises of milkshakes to make it back to the car.

Here are my favorite mountain bike trails for kids in and around Bend

Maston Trail System

Elevation: 100 to 200-ft elevation gain
Tech: Few rollable rock sections with 3 or 4 requiring dismounts
Length: 4 to 9-mile options. 19-mile loop option for older riders
Overall Rating: The best winter and spring riding location around Bend for kids

kids riding mountain bikes at the maston mountain bike trail system outside of Bend, Oregon

Maston is our go-to trail during the winter and spring months when almost all of the west side and sister’s area trails are still under snow and/or mud. The combination of the location of the trail to the north of Bend, lack of tree cover, and sandy soil mean these trails dry out quickly. This past year we rode Maston from January until June, when most of the trails turned into a sandy mess.

Maston is located just north of Tumalo, it is only a 20-minute drive to the trailhead from downtown Bend.

Note that if you’re bringing your groms out to this trail system, it is best to do so with wider tire bikes. The edges of the trail tend to stay loose and sandy even when the center of the trail is firm. On narrower tire bikes, this means that riders can go down pretty easily. Our 5-year-old is on a 20″ Trek Roscoe with 2.8″ wide tires, and we have found these to be perfect for the sandy trails around Bend.

The trail system is comprised of a loop that runs around the entire area along with a number of trails that cut through the middle both from north/south and east/west. The longest loop runs 19 miles, but the cut-through trails mean there are plenty of shorter options.

The three routes we like the best are:

  • An out-and-back either west along the Maston outer loop until you get to an impassable-for-a-5-year-old rock feature or east along the headgate trail until the trail starts to cut uphill. Both of these trails are super flowy, with only two rollable rock features in the first half mile. These options make for a 4 to 5-mile out-and-back.
  • Riding out on Big Bark, taking a left on Lost Dream, and connecting back on the Maston Outer Loop. This makes for a 5.5-mile ride and includes a bit more technical riding than the out and back options. Most of it is rollable, but there are 3 or 4 spots where we still have to dismount and walk the bikes. The total elevation gain on this loop is 150ft.
  • The longest option is a 9-mile loop connecting Headgate to Talon to Lost Dream to the Maston Outer Loop. Like the last option, there are a few technical sections but plenty of flow to go with minimal elevation gain. The total elevation change over the entire loop is only 200ft.

Shevlin Park Trails

Elevation: 100 to 200-ft elevation gain
Tech: Virtually none
Length: 5 miles
Overall Rating: Great beginner trails with different options as their skills and endurance grow

Kids mountain biking on shevlin park trails near Bend

For brand new riders, there is no better option in Bend than the trails at Shevlin Park. The trail system is located just on the western edge of Bend, making it a great choice for quick outings.

The one downside to the trail’s quick accessibility is it gets BUSY, so make sure your little ones are under control going around corners and know to yield to other trail users.

Our 3-year-old started on a pedal bike this summer, and she loves to ride up the old Fremont Rd (with some assistance from mom and dad on the hills) and bomb down the Tumalo Creek trail. Starting from the main parking lot, we will also sub out the road for sections of the western Shevlin Loop trail so our 5-year-old can get in a few more hills and dirt miles.

The Tumalo creek trail is 100% beginner friendly, aside from the numerous pedestrians, so this is a great spot to get new riders their first introduction to dirt.

Kent’s Trail

Elevation: 100 to 200-ft elevation gain. 600+ for older riders
Tech: Virtually none
Length: 4 miles. 8 miles with more elevation for older riders.
Overall Rating: Great flowy trails and a beginner-friendly introduction to the Phils trail system

Kents mountain bike trail intersection with MTB

Kent’s trail is the most beginner-friendly trail in the Phil’s trail system. Starting from the Phil’s trailhead parking lot, Kent heads uphill for over 4 miles.

Kent’s is probably the most flowy single-track trail in the Phil’s system, making it a great mountain bike trail for kids in Bend. Note that after the first two miles, the trails start to gain some pretty serious elevation and get to be too much for our 5-year-old without a tow.

We like turning around at mile 2, where Kent’s and MTB intersect, as there is a huge teepee made from branches that the kids can play in while they have a snack.

As the kid’s skills progress, there are plenty of options to add on additional miles, hills, and tech with Phils, KGB, Marvin’s, and Ben’s trails.

The Phil’s parking lot also has a pump track that is a lot of fun for the kids to get warmed up.

Suttle Lake Trail

Elevation: <50 ft
Tech: Rooty sections and occasional tree hopping
Length: 4.5 miles
Overall Rating: A slightly techier trail that begins and ends at Suttle Lake lodge (*hint* beer *hint*)

Suttle lake lodge mountain bike trail for kids in Bend

The trail that winds its way around Suttle lake is a fun way to get out of town for a short, flat, albeit slightly technical, ride.

Note that Suttle Lake gets insanely busy on warm summer weekends, so plan accordingly, as there isn’t much parking.

The trail follows the edge of the lake and passes through a few campgrounds on the western end. There are some technical rooty sections that are ridable for most adults but require some walking for the kids. On our last visit, there were also some downed trees that required lifting the bikes over.

The best part about this ride, though, is the fact that it starts and ends at the Suttle Lake Lodge. The lodge has abundant outdoor seating and a full bar and grill for a post-ride burger and beer.

Given that the loop is only 4-miles, some riders might want to add in a few extra miles. This can easily be done from the parking lot by heading out the Lake Creek trail. This trail is primarily doubletrack and is 4 miles long (one way) as it makes its way up to Camp Sherman.

Swampy Lakes Loop

Elevation: 450 ft
Tech: Some rocky sections and a few steep uphills/downhills
Length: 4 miles
Overall Rating: A nice short loop to the Swamp Lakes shelter with some fun downhill sections

swampy lakes shelter on the swampy lakes loop mountain bike trail

The Swampy Lakes loop trail is a bit off the beaten path when it comes to the higher elevation trails, as most folks will be focused on more popular trails like Southfork or Flagline. This makes it a fun option for kids to get their first taste of higher elevation trails while not having to commit to a long ride.

The first mile out of the trailhead includes a long (for the kids at least) grind uphill on a double-track trail. After this section, the trail turns to singletrack and starts to get a bit more techy and steep. There were definitely a few sections where we had to walk our bikes.

The midpoint of the loop includes a short tie trail to the Swampy Lakes shelter. The shelter includes some nice views of the Sisters and Broken top, making for a great snack stop.

Heading back downhill, there are a few steep sections followed by a mile of nice flowy singletrack back to the parking lot.

Blackrock Trail to Benham Falls

Elevation: 400 ft
Tech: Some rocky sections and a long uphill grind
Length: 8 miles
Overall Rating: A decent option on the south end of town that can be ridden on the mountain bike trail or paved bike path

Starting at the Lava Butte parking lot just north of Sunriver, the Blackrock trail heads downhill towards the Deschutes river. This trail has a moderate amount of rocky sections, but if it gets too bad, you’re never more than 50 feet from the paved bike path in case of a bailout.

The trail is all downhill as you head towards the river, followed by some flat riding along the Deschutes River trail towards Benham falls. This section is pretty mellow as it is a wide double-track trail that will most likely be filled with hikers and other bikers.

The return route is a long grind uphill on the paved path, which usually means me towing the kids in a trailer or using a tow strap.

3 Bonus Mountain Bike Skills Trails for Kids in Bend

Given the number of mountain bikers in Bend, it only makes sense that there would be a few small skill courses scattered around town. Now you can be in the know on where they are located.

Rockridge Park

Located on the Northeastern edge of town, Rockridge park offers up a kid’s (or adult!) mountain bike skills course with features like rock piles, boardwalks, and beginner-level drops.

Stone Creek Park

On the opposite end of town in Southeast Bend is Stone Creek Park. This park offers both a small pump track and a skills course with similar features like boardwalks, skinnies, and rock features.

Loge Camp

Located off of the Cascades Lake Highway on the way up to Mt. Bachelor, Loge Camp serves as the base for Cogwild. Cogwild is a local business that offers shuttles, guided rides, bike rentals, and mountain bike coaching.

Because of Cogwild’s presence, a skills loop was built around the property and features beginner and intermediate-friendly rock gardens, skinnies, bridges, and slabs.

Where to Buy or Rent a Kids Mountain Bike in Bend?

There is no shortage of bike shops in Bend and, thus, no shortage of places to buy an awesome kid’s mountain bike either. Here are a few of our favorite shops (in no particular order).

  • Hutch’s Bike Shop – Sells Giant, Liv, and Specialized brand bikes. Their stores tend to carry a few other brands as well. They also rent out kid’s bikes if you’re visiting and just need one for the week.
  • Sunnyside Sports – Sells Trek bikes and was where we bought our 5-year-old his Trek Roscoe. They also have a rental fleet, but I am unsure if they rent kid’s sized bikes.
  • REI – Carry REI brand kid’s bikes, although we didn’t have great luck with a bike from there as the paint started rubbing off within a week.
  • Project Bike – They have the most impressive selection of kid’s bike options as they carry Specialized, GT, Cannondale, Evo, and Norco. They also offer 20″, 24″, and 26″ bikes to rent.

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