Winchester Bay is known for having the tallest dunes in Oregon. It is said that some of the dunes have a 500 ft or more elevation gain from bottom to top. When you ride up to one of these tall dunes they don't actually look that big because there are no trees around them to gauge the size. Once you start climbing the dune and then get to the top, that is when you appreciate the sheer size of these sand mountains. When you are on top of a 500ft dune you first notice the beautiful 360 degree view of the ocean and the other dune hills around you. Then you notice how high you are when you see your buddy at the bottom of the hill. People at the bottom look like little ants. That is when it hits you, "I climbed that!!!". You have to see it for yourself.
At Winchester there always seems to be a inland blowing wind. The wind is what creates such large dunes. The wind also creates what is called razor backs at the tops of these dunes. This is something you need to seriously be aware of. A razor back is when a dune has a sharp edge on the top and on the back side has an almost straight drop off. These drop offs can be as large as 15 feet or more. Many people have gone full bore over the top of a dune and launched themselves over the drop offs resulting in injury. I have witnessed this first hand. It is always best to slow down at the top and check what is on the other side before you go over.
If you are a rider that likes sand trails it is best to stick to the outside perimeters of the dune. Along the outside edge their is a trail that encompasses the entire dune. You can spend a whole day just following every trail you can find. Some sections are very challenging because they go up some very steep and long hills. You definitely need a bike with some power. There are also many beautiful views along the way to see. On one of the fingers that shoots off in the woods you will get an excellent view of Clear Lake and Hwy 101 from an elevation of approximately 300ft. Further along the trail you will run across another lake that is fenced in and off limits to riding. I have been told you may be able to see nesting eagle in this area. I highly suggest you ride the trail at least once.
If you are a person who likes serious challenge there is a hill that has a 500ft elevation gain that snakes through the trees and then opens up to a very steep bowl. I hear they call it Banshee Hill but I have not confirmed that. This hill takes serious power and a skilled rider to make it to the top. If you would like to see the hill click on the link below courtesy of, http://out4sand.tripod.com/ .
There is plenty of camp sites around Winchester but we found that Discovery Point Resort is the closest to the dune which means less riding on asphalt. The dune is also close to town so if you don't like cooking your own food you can always get a bite to eat at the local restaurants. I definitely recommend going to this dune. After riding Winchester you will be ready for any dune out there.
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