MTN BIKING — Return on the Jedi/Taylor Creek Trail

Rating (Out of 5): 4.5

Open: Year-round

Location: Near Merlin, Ore.

Distance: 4 miles one-way (Lone Tree Pass to Sam Brown Campground)

Difficulty: easy/moderate

Quick hit: Among the most enjoyable mountain biking trails in Southern Oregon, Return on the Jedi Trail (which is part of Taylor Creek Trail), speeds through fast swooping turns between pine trees.

There are multiple trailhead on Taylor Creek Trail itself, but the Jedi section is the best for riders. It begins at Lone Tree Pass (the trail’s highest point) and continues about 4 miles to Sam Brown Campground.

The Jedi section is fast and fun single track riding. The trail’s name is a reference to a scene in the Star Wars movie of the same name, in which Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia use speeder bikes to chase down Imperial Stormtroopers on the planet Endor, which is populated by Ewoks, in a sustained effort to destroy the Death Star.

The scene in question was actually filmed in Northern California's Redwood national and state parks — not Southern Oregon. But the feeling of speeding between massive pines on a mountain bike is oddly similar to the sensation created by the movie, so you’ll have to forgive the trail its geographic handicap.

(You can mountain bike the rest of Taylor Creek Trail from Lone Tree Pass, but the riding is tougher and for more advanced riders.)

Directions: From Merlin, follow Merlin/Galice road about 9 miles to Briggs Valley Road 25, and turn left. Follow this paved road past a couple Taylor Creek trailheads along the road's left side until you reach the highest point at Lone Tree Pass. This trailhead is marked by a sign and gravel road off to the left, where there’s a parking spot for a few cars.

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