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  1. #1
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    NE Ore trail intel needed

    Been doing the June Bend thing for 13 years now and as fun as it all is, well, I get bored easily and like to find new places to me. So, this year after putting off for way too long, I'm going to the NE corner and getting my LaGrande on. I have the old first edition Riding LaGrande book and have visited the BMSC site as well as the Ride LaGrande site and have some good ideas on where I can get a solid week in. But, web info is still decidedly weak. I do have an old e-mail with info from Brian at Ride LaGrande with some info. What I am looking for is good base camp locations so we don't have to move around too much. (Could camp out off Phil's for several days and not ride too much of the same thing twice.) Side trips to other local spots is fine, we'd drive to Gray Butte or Round/Lookout for the day when in Bend. Probably stopping at Walla Walla for a couple days on the way down or on the way back. So, need good intel on solid day rides of 20-30 I suppose. (30-40 in "Bend" miles...) Planning for the 3rd or 4th week in June. Umatilla Rim looks awesome. Heard there's an out and back above the Snake River Canyon that is stunning as well. Frazier or Umapine CG have a few rides going right from it? Don't mind "wasting" a day or so getting it all figured out and warned the usuals it would be a "recon trip".

    Thanks in advance!

    Sorry Nat, Dirtfarmer, et al....

  2. #2
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    So uhm, all you Oregon folks don't ride here either? Looks like some pretty cool and out there stuff on ridelagrande.com...

  3. #3
    Afric Pepperbird
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    Looks like you'll be detouring to Bend!

  4. #4
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    Hehehehe. Nope, sticking to my guns and giving it a go anyways. Looked at all that promising terrain too many times passing through to Sun Valley or Moab. Will post a report though. May go back to Bend next year and see what transpires with a year off. But, probably staying on the wet side and doing the NUT (1 day?) along with all that SW OR stuff I've been putting off as well. Bendites are blessed with so much opportunity so close and I think most realize it. Add Gray and Round/Lookout to the mix in a June trip and it really shows some diversity. Not usually a creature of riding habit and always tried to mix up the routes when down there the past 13 years. But, when I know where all the random logs and rocks are in the trail, it's starting to get played out. When the chairs go in at Bachelor, we're talking about buying a one trip ticket and then ride from the very top into town to 10 Barrel perhaps in a variation of the current race route. That would be a cool day.... Just wish there was more info on the NE corner of the state.

  5. #5
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    Heidi and have been wanting to check out the northeastern Oregon area for a while, but solid trail info is hard to find online. You will probably get the best info by talking to the local bike shops when you get there. If you find some good stuff let us know.
    Moving to Bend? Let me help.
    Derek Faller - www.BendHouseSeller.com

  6. #6
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    I've ridden in the LaGrande area 3 times, 2 camping trips and once when passing through. I also try to make it out that way for a week to BC ski most years.

    Fire away.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  7. #7
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    I live and ride in the La Grande area. BMSTC and lagranderide websites are a good resource for whats out there in general. Longer rides are the exception rather than the rule in this part of the country and the higher elevations don't open up until mid-summer.
    To the west is Snow Rd Winery trails in Echo (home of Echo Red2Red) and South Fork Walla Walla River trail out of Milton-Freewater. Both are open and clear. Umatilla rim still has snow right now and gets cleared every 4th of July by an ATV group.
    Mt Emily, sometimes called the Archery Range Trails, is all open and cleared but no good map available right now though that may change by June.
    Phillips Lake/Black Mountain is open but there are about a dozen down trees on the north shore.
    USFS trails like the Lodgepole and Elkhorn Crest are a crapshoot in mid-June as to whether the snow is off. Same with the Hartz trails which have a north exposure.
    All the trails mentioned here are maintained to some extent and are fun rides without much if any boondocking. Other trails will fall into the "adventuous" category.

  8. #8
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    I finally read your original post.

    I've camped out there twice, we stayed at the Catherine Creek State Park. It's nice, but not really close to any riding, it is centrally located between LaGrande and Baker City. Both times we went out to ride the Elkhorn Crest Trail. We also rode the Archery Range Trails on the first day in town and rode the Umatilla Rim Trail on the way home.

    If you are planning to ride the South Fork Walla Walla River Trail, the Harris Park would be a good option. I think there are better options for multiple days and more mileage in this area too, but I don't have much experience.

    Umatilla National Forest

    And Chinacap, Last May we camped near the saddle between China Cap and Burger Butte for four days. We skied China Cap, Burger Butte, Granite Butte and others in the area. I mention this because of your MTBR handle.
    Last edited by OldHouseMan; 05-19-2013 at 08:04 PM.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  9. #9
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    This all helps some. Thanks! Seems like there is a ton on the ridelagrande website but almost all of it is out and back stuff or a shuttle and I'm definitely not a shuttle monkey. Captain Cogset, I'm amazed you and Heidi have not bagged all that yet as much as you guys get out. Will definitely report back for sure since we won't be doing the big loop with you this year. No freakin' way I'll ride the red to red stuff in late June. Looks like a dust bowl by then.

    Also just heard this weekend in Teanaway that Stan's and tubeless is the way to go down there. Is it that bad? Flat central?

    Chinacap, what's going to be reasonably open by the last week in June for example? I have no problem route finding and long days in the saddle are my forte'. So, bring it...

    Anyone want to show us around, I'm totally down for that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borneo View Post
    ....Stan's and tubeless is the way to go down there. Is it that bad? Flat central?
    My only NE Oregon ride experience says yes. Goatheads galore.

  11. #11
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    It looks like Brian has added some things to lagranderide. I'll review what is on the websites and get back with some thoughts on what will be open in June.
    Goatheads are mainly in the sage country, but tubeless and sealant is the way to go anyway; haven't had a flat in 3 years.
    Yeah, my chinacap handle comes from the mountain which I see out my kitchen window.

  12. #12
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    Awesome! Thanks! Best info would be where to camp to ride right from camp and I'd love a "best of" list to start with. Don't mind poking around either. My guess the Echo stuff will be way too hot and dusty by then anyways and we're looking for "Round Mountain/Lookout" Prineville type stuff anyways.... Is the MERA stuff worth a day or is it something you can do in an afternoon or morning on the way out? Looks small but might not be.

  13. #13
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    With my limited mtbing experience in the area, I'm pretty sure you wont be able to get more than a day or two of riding directly from your camp. You'll need to except to drive from camp to get more riding or change camps a couple times.

    I'd plan to avoid the Echo Trails unless you want to hit them on the way to or from the area.

    You could spend a whole day riding the Mt Emily stuff, but realistically, it's probably only worth it to ride on your way into or out of town.

    And I don't have a top 10 list, haven't ridden out there enough to compile one.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  14. #14
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    Ok, so here's the deal: the only purpose built MTB trails in this region are Echo and the north half of MERA. The rest are all previously existing trails which accomodate MTB to some degree. New trails are being built in MERA over the next 2 years with RTP funding that will more than double the miles available there.

    By mid to late June almost everything should be open (trailhead accessible, no snow on trail) but not necessarily cleared (blowdowns, debris, etc.). Dutch Flat and Hartz Trails will be iffy; Elkhorn Crest likely snowed in.

    It has been a very dry spring but we did get snow down to 3500' the night before last, so one never knows.

    Places you can ride out from camp are: S Fork Walla Walla, MERA, and Phillips Lake.

    Most of the trails around here are going to be out & back and take 2-4 hours because they were intended to be a full day hike. Brian at lagraderide says he has put together a 100 mile connected trail, but you have to pay $30 to find out where.

    Regardless, lagranderide is the best resource to identify trail types & locations.

  15. #15
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    Thanks again. I spent 2 hours on the site last night taking notes and may have to pony up the 30 because nothing in that area seems to be for free. And the book I bought in 2006 doesn't even have any of the trails on the website now to speak of. I was looking at Frazier or Umapine for some atv/moto loops. Thoughts? Beat up or hardly used? Looks like there is a lot out of Twin Lakes are near Halfway. Deadman and Sugarloaf etc and camping right there. Breshears and Solstice look decent and right out of tow. Any thoughts there and is there any camping along that ridge? (Back side of MERA?)Even primitive is fine. Thanks again!

  16. #16
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    I like singletrack so I haven't done any of the ATV areas. Solstice loop takes about an hour and a quarter unless you ride the road up from town which might add another hour to it. That is one trail people either love or hate.

    Breshears could be accssed from Moss Springs Campground which is also one end of the Lodgepole Trail, a 9 mile out & back on the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

    I haven't biked the stuff out of Halfway yet. That's on my list for this year. I've been up on top from the backside on horseback and it is really nice.

    MERA has an 8 space campground on the motorized side which is maybe 3 miles from downtown. The moto trails are open to bikes. There is a road leading around the mountain to the non-moto side and the trails so you could ride from camp.

    The woods here are pretty open like in the Bend area and there are plenty of user created campsites, especially by creeks. If you have the forest park pass you can stay in any one of these for free up to 14 days.

    I'm swamped with work the whole month of June so don't know if i can do a show-me ride or not. The Mountainworks, local bike shop, has a facebook page. Might be able to connect with someone that way.

  17. #17
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    Thanks! I'll do that.

    Crosspost from the WA page as well:

    Getting even more jacked up about this now. Great intel coming from Bart at Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club. Thanks! Anyone ridden the Phillips Lake area? Outside Baker City and looks real good.

    Also planning on a couple days out of Harris Creek on the way down or back. Getting some good info on n and S F of the Walla Walla as well. Any WaWa locals want to possibly ride with us and be paid in good times and cold beer? Sounds like the top can be a bit confusing but I don't care about getting lost for a while. That's what mountain biking is all about anyways.

    Bart played down Breshears and Solstice so maybe he's on the "hate" side? I'll try anything once... Maybe MERA, Solstice, and Breshears all in one big"ish" day? If you want Chinacap, PM me and we can exchange #s, etc and I'll keep you up to date. Will also contact the bike shop page as well. Thanks!

  18. #18
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    Getting closer and finding out more good intel. Spent about 40 minutes on the phone with a Walla Walla ranger who bikes and got lots more to chew on. Anyone know if Marble Pass/Elkhorn is snow free yet? If this area is as good as it looks/sounds so far, I'm really surprised it's not higher on many lists.

    Kind of like the Kettle Crest up here in WA. World class stuff and hardly anyone rides there.

  19. #19
    Nat
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    Wow, good info. I've only visited the Wallowas once and it seemed more conducive to hiking and horsey riding than biking (but I didn't really look into it since we didn't have our bikes). It sounds like it'll be a good time, Borneo.

  20. #20
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    You know, I always thought that too when I was passing through on the way to Moab or Sun Valley. Just ran the directions off mapquest and was rather surprised that it was 214 miles over 26 from Bend to Phillips Lake. Thought it was a LOT closer. Maybe not such an easy jaunt from the Bend/Redmond area. Elkhorn looks like it would be worth it though. Get's up to 7K and has that Round/Lookout flavor with even less trees.

  21. #21
    Nat
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    It may be distant but it's a nice drive so i may have to explore a bit. Post pics of your trip please.

  22. #22
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    Sounds like a trip is needed.

  23. #23
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    I was at Phillips Lake on Saturday and could see that the south side of Marble Pass was clear with only patchy snow on the Elkhorns. I heard the Crest was open on Tuesday. Hartz trails are open and cleared. Dutch Flat is likely open, too.

  24. #24
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    Schweeet! Planning on rolling into camp at Phillips Lake on Wednesday, the 26th in the a.m. and doing a loop around the lake then lunch and then up to Rimrock and the Super D. Any issues with goatheads in that area? Marble pass to Twin Lakes on Thursday.

  25. #25
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    No issues with goatheads. The trail is pretty indistinct from Deer Cr to the south shore campground on the west end. You can bushwhack through the tailings and just go up to the road to get over the river, or ride the road around. You'll probably have the whole trail to yourselves.

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