Breaking the law in search of excitement is never an excuse, but when one gets to the end of a mountain-bike trail before seeing any “trail closed” signage, breaking the law is inevitable.
The Chimney Camp Trail near Ludlum House on the Winchuck River is currently closed by order of the U.S. Forest Service to help stem the spread of Sudden Oak Death and to avoid interaction between humans and the herbicide that has been sprayed in parts of the area.
The problem with the closure is that the “trail closed” signs aren’t posted in a conspicuous area, especially if mountain bikers start their trek in the wrong area and join the trail after the trailhead entrance – the entire area isn’t closed, just the trail.
Finding locations around Brookings in which to mountain bike can be difficult, but with the help of the Oregon South Coast Bike Ride Guide by Tom Baake, the Chimney Camp Trail was the first of many rides to be detailed in the Curry Coastal Pilot.
The trail – when the Forest Service reopens it – can be accessed from two locations: just past Ludlum House on the Winchuck River, or from the Chetco River side off Mt. Emily Road close to the Bombsite Trail trailhead.
The trail is generally clear with steps cut into the one tree that has fallen over the path. There are a number of smaller trees that lay on the ground to provide skilled riders with the challenge of trying to ride over them, or give novices the opportunity to get off the bike for a moment as they lift their rigs over the trunk.
There are a number of small creek crossings that necessitate portaging but with the exception of fording the Winchuck River, all creek crossings can be made without getting one’s feet wet.
The guide lists the trail as easy, and while there are some areas that require gearing down, the elevation doesn’t rise more than 200 feet above sea level.
The ride is an out-and-back ride unless measures are taken to ensure transportation at the other end of the trail from which the trip is begun.
One adult and three teenagers made the 2.9 mile trip in 1:06:55 with a short stop when it was found that the trail was closed.
It is worthy to note that the mosquito population is extremely high and bug spray would be recommended.
Editor’s note: Upon learning of the Sudden Oak Death in the area, the riders were instructed to thoroughly clean the tires and frames of their bikes and their shoes to reduce the likelihood of spreading SOD to other areas. Riders should refrain from entering any area closed for eradication and patiently wait for trails to reopen before using them.