Gabriel Amadeus Tiller and his conglomerate of volunteers are patching together 5,000 miles of trails from Washington to Baja.
Pacific Northwest local and bikepacking legend, Gabriel Amadeus Tiller, is developing a behemoth of a mountain bike trail: the Orogenesis.
At 5,000 miles, spanning from northern Washington to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, it will be the longest mountain bike trail in the world. Best of all, you can help. Named after the geological forming of mountains, the Orogenesis is attempting to connect the dots between north and south, providing access to cyclists of all kinds.
It’s not the first to do so, the notorious Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is a well-known example, but Orogenesis will be the longest, smashing the GDMBR by a whopping 2,300 miles.
Last month, the project hosted its first stewardship event. It marked a tangible step forward in bringing the ambitious plan to life. But what exactly is Orogenesis?
Tackling 5,000 miles of singletrack, dirt roads, and little pavement is by no means an easy feat, so Tiller is trying to make it as simple as possible by using already established routes.
“There’s a lot of major blockades. There’s a lot of wilderness areas, national parks, and then just physical, geographic features that make it difficult to put a trail through,” Tiller explained. “We’re trying to create as little work as possible by utilizing existing trails wherever we can.”
Rad Mind, Mad Idea
Growing up in an outdoorsy world, Tiller spent much of his childhood camping and fishing, finding his passion for mountain biking in high school. That passion took him to some of the best trails on the west coast and eventually led him towards trail development.
In 2017, the Oregon Timber Trail — which he founded — was officially patched together. The almost 700-mile trail through the length of Oregon is 91% unpaved, meandering through some of Oregon’s most beautiful and rugged terrain. Although Tiller left the Oregon Timber Trail Association in 2021, he’s had his sights set on other endeavors.
Besides being the founder of the Orogenesis Collective, he’s also a board member of Bikepacking Roots, co-founder of the Oregon Mountain Bike Coalition, and the co-founder of Limberlost. Orogenesis currently falls under the umbrella of Bikepacking Roots, but will launch its own non-profit in the next year.
The idea for the Orogenesis trail, Tiller said, has been thrown around since the ’80s. He just happens to be the one to take it seriously enough to make it happen.
“I was one of the founders of the Oregon Timber Trail, so when we launched that, it was about the same time that the Baja Divide Bikepacking route launched,” Tiller told GearJunkie. “Just seeing those two on the same map made it really obvious that we should try to connect the two through California and then farther North.”
Having poured over and assessed the complexities of land ownership along the route, Tiller concluded that although difficult, it could inevitably be done. He claims that around 75 percent of the trail is bikeable today, something that he’s hoping to improve on in coming years.
Orogenesis Mountain Bike Trail
Part of those improvements come down to restoring and maintaining old trails, focusing on gaps where no other alternative exists. Although the Orogenesis Collective amassed a network of volunteers to restore and scout trails, it wasn’t until July that they hosted their first stewardship event.
Set near Packwood, Washington, with support from GOREWEAR, the event combined the efforts of the Washington Trails Association, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, and the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.
In an attempt to restore an old indigenous path used by the local xwa’lwaypam (Klickitat) people, the crew of 17 put in hard hours for two days, slowly chipping away at the ultimate goal.
With Mt. Rainier standing sentinel in the distance, they headed for the forest. With chainsaws and tools in hand, they logged 300 hours and eventually cleared 7.5 miles of the Klickitat Sisters Trail.
They cleared brush, removed fallen trees, and marked branches as they scouted for a new trail. And slowly, in an embodiment of their namesake, the Orogenesis was that much closer to amalgamation.
For now, the collective has one more stewardship event planned for 2022 in Truckee, California, with dates still to be determined. But their list of improvements is large and they still need help.