Trails ‘n Trials – Radlands Trail System (Redmond)

Looking north towards Smith Rock.

Looking north towards Smith Rock.

Recently, I was asked to test and then review a pair of shoes. The shoes are billed as trail shoes and as a trail runner, I was stoked! Once I got them, the stoked was replaced with choked but I knew it wasn't fair to simply dismiss them and not even try them out. I also know that as a runner, you have to truly break a pair of shoes in before offering a fair review. To me, 30 miles is the least I want to run in a pair of shoes before commenting on them too heavily. 50 miles is a better barometer. 75-100 miles is the ultimate. At that amount of usage, I can properly determine if they are the kind of shoe I will ever wear again.

With that said, I have recently broken the 100 mile barrier with these new shoes (which took about a month because I alternate between 3 pairs) and I’m finding they are not nearly as bad as I originally feared they would be. Given their comfort level on short to middle distance runs, I decided to push them a little further on the roughest patch of trail around here I know…The Radlands.

I happen to work just 3/4 mile from one of the entrance points to the trails so I started from there, knowing I would pick up some additional distance that way. The thing about Radlands is, these are trails that were carved out of some pretty gnarly, overly rocky, juniper infested wastelands. The trails were originally planned out as a mountain biking destination, like Phil’s or Maston and while Radlands gets a little traffic from bikes, it doesn’t even get 5% of what Phil’s trail gets. This is due to it being in northeast Redmond and it not being in Bend…and for this runner, that works well. There are several loops already set up with more scheduled to be built soon. Short runs of 2-4 miles are possible, as are longer runs of 8-12. Doubling up loops just adds more miles.

The trails are up and down with lots of technical rocky sections that will challenge even serious trail runners but the descents and ascents are non-existent. Instead, one can expect a constant rolling and turning set of trails that never gets dull; there are no straightaways that last longer than 4 strides…let that one sink in.

I assume distant planets look just like this…and I will run there too.

Rain had fallen just a couple of hours before going out and the wind was up in the 15 mph range but it wasn’t terrible. When the wind is up, the Radlands are a great place to escape to. The temperature was about 48 and, with the exception of clear blue skies, it was near perfect. I started at the south-west corner called the Antler trail head (where Antler road ends east of Hwy 97) and worked my way north towards the High Desert Sports Complex (where Maple road ends east of Hwy 97). The first section is just under 2 miles and then the trail continues north, working its way east and then back south again in another loop of just over 3 miles. At that point, there are several ways to go and I chose the long route that heads east a ways and then south again, adding another 6 miles, which brought me back to the Antler trail head.

It’s cute to think you’ll see horses out here. You won’t. Unless your mountain bike is your horse!

On this day, the only other living creatures I saw were four female deer, a pair or rock chucks and a small sage rat being chased by a hungry rabbit (I’m hoping that was a rabbit). The really weird thing about running out there is the feeling you are on another planet or in some far off remote area of the world where there are no people. There are sections of trail where you can see an industrial park or a couple of baseball fields, but on the whole, most of the trail feels very desolate. Yet, once you’re back to the Antler trail head or the Maple trail head, you’re back in the city in less than a mile, which makes the Radlands a favorite for sure.

The Maple trail head has water and bathrooms and makes a great starting/ending point. The trails are exclusively single track and are well packed. Expect rocks. Have fun. Hope to see you out there!

About Drew Roberts (193 Articles)
Insanely happy husband & father. Trail running junkie. Ultramarathon rookie. Saved by grace.
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