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Thread: Steens Mountain

  1. #1
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    Steens Mountain

    Wondering if anyone does any riding on trails on the Steens Mountain. I hunt chukar on the east side of the mountain, and have fished the Blitzen River, Fish Lake, and Ankle Creek, on the west side, and I know of several trails and very rough double track trails, but I'm not sure on the legality of riding there, or if there is any real recognized mountain bike trails. I looked on the web sites for the mountain, and they do not say, specifically, that mountain bikes are not allowed anywhere, and they actually identify mountain biking as an activity at some of the campgrounds. But I'm not interested in "mountain biking" the loop road, as some do (no need to kill myself by altitude sickness and exhaustion all just to fill my lungs with dust and destroy my arms from the washboard). But this is one of my favorite parts of Oregon and would love to mix in some riding in the beautiful canyons and aspen forests, if possible.

  2. #2
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    I'm headed out there in Early September to do some recon. Planning a charity ride for September 2014, so I need to look into what trails and roads are rideable.
    My dad and step-mom monitor wild horses out there, so they'll be providing some valuable beta during my exploration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossFix View Post
    I'm headed out there in Early September to do some recon. Planning a charity ride for September 2014, so I need to look into what trails and roads are rideable.
    My dad and step-mom monitor wild horses out there, so they'll be providing some valuable beta during my exploration.
    Cool. I was thinking there may be some trails down off the South Loop campground, possibly up the Blitzen. Some of that area is within the wilderness area, and some out. I went camping off horseback in that area, around the Ankle Creek area, and it seems there may be some trails in that area. I sent an e-mail to the guys at ONDA yesterday asking about permissibility of mountain biking in the cooperative wilderness management area, and have not heard back, yet.

  4. #4
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    Just found this thread, and wouldn't ya know I've been on Wilderness.net for some time looking over the Steens map and seeing what is/isn't possible.

    Went out there two summers back to Frenchglen and the top of the mtn to check out what can be done on a rigid ride like mine. Hard to pinpoint trails, but the dirtroad riding sure looks promising as hell. I had a bunch of fun trying to ride to the summit at 9700 feet, wore me out quick.

    Have you looked at the back side and Mann Lake Rd? There seems to be something that crosses over the ridge there in a road form at first, then turns to trail.

    Hard to tell what is private property and is govt. accessible stuff. That's my concern since I don't want to be trespassing on anyone's turf.

    Anyone here would like to possibly meet up in September either there or in Burns, we may be able to put a good ride together. I like this area for its remoteness. Only other place like this in Oregon for me would be Cornucopia.

    Quote Originally Posted by GauchoGreg View Post
    Cool. I was thinking there may be some trails down off the South Loop campground, possibly up the Blitzen. Some of that area is within the wilderness area, and some out. I went camping off horseback in that area, around the Ankle Creek area, and it seems there may be some trails in that area. I sent an e-mail to the guys at ONDA yesterday asking about permissibility of mountain biking in the cooperative wilderness management area, and have not heard back, yet.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

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    Quote Originally Posted by unicrown junkie View Post
    Just found this thread, and wouldn't ya know I've been on Wilderness.net for some time looking over the Steens map and seeing what is/isn't possible.

    Went out there two summers back to Frenchglen and the top of the mtn to check out what can be done on a rigid ride like mine. Hard to pinpoint trails, but the dirtroad riding sure looks promising as hell. I had a bunch of fun trying to ride to the summit at 9700 feet, wore me out quick.

    Have you looked at the back side and Mann Lake Rd? There seems to be something that crosses over the ridge there in a road form at first, then turns to trail.

    Hard to tell what is private property and is govt. accessible stuff. That's my concern since I don't want to be trespassing on anyone's turf.

    Anyone here would like to possibly meet up in September either there or in Burns, we may be able to put a good ride together. I like this area for its remoteness. Only other place like this in Oregon for me would be Cornucopia.
    I have spent a LOT of time on the east side of the Steens chukar hunting. There are a lot of double track roads that would actually be pretty fun riding, but hell of steep hills up. There are a lot of game trails, too, but I can't say I remember seeing much in the way of single track over there. I think the more likely area where you might run into single track is on the west side where more equestrian activities have taken place.

    That is one of my favorite areas of Oregon. Absolutely beautiful and desolate. Silence and starry nights.

  6. #6
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    Envious, envious, can you see that I'm green! Both from your expereinces out there, and pure envy on my part.

    I am poring over this map like crazy, and since you've been on the east side you have good understanding of the terrain.

    So, any knowledge on Stonehouse Creek which goes over the ridge north of Mann Lake, or just south is "Hole in the Ground"? They both look like a lot of fun to me, and the latter ends up on the backside of Kiger too. So no wilderness boundary crap to deal with.

    After that all I see is something at Alvord Hot Springs, a jeep trail of sorts. Indian Creek goes along with that.

    As for the west side, it just seems to be covered in a wilderness boundary from head to toe, I can't see the possibility of anything trail wise being legal there, rats.

    Quote Originally Posted by GauchoGreg View Post
    I have spent a LOT of time on the east side of the Steens chukar hunting. There are a lot of double track roads that would actually be pretty fun riding, but hell of steep hills up. There are a lot of game trails, too, but I can't say I remember seeing much in the way of single track over there. I think the more likely area where you might run into single track is on the west side where more equestrian activities have taken place.

    That is one of my favorite areas of Oregon. Absolutely beautiful and desolate. Silence and starry nights.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by unicrown junkie View Post
    Envious, envious, can you see that I'm green! Both from your expereinces out there, and pure envy on my part.

    I am poring over this map like crazy, and since you've been on the east side you have good understanding of the terrain.

    So, any knowledge on Stonehouse Creek which goes over the ridge north of Mann Lake, or just south is "Hole in the Ground"? They both look like a lot of fun to me, and the latter ends up on the backside of Kiger too. So no wilderness boundary crap to deal with.

    After that all I see is something at Alvord Hot Springs, a jeep trail of sorts. Indian Creek goes along with that.

    As for the west side, it just seems to be covered in a wilderness boundary from head to toe, I can't see the possibility of anything trail wise being legal there, rats.
    I have hunted chukar in the canyons around Stonehouse Creek, Pike Creek, Indian Creek, Alvord Creek, pretty much all of the creeks from Mann Lake down toward Fields. I know the Davis family that own the Alvord Ranch, and have run quads up as far as you can on their property, up to the rims/cliffs. Certainly would be better than your average double-track riding, but a LOT of verticle. Even though I'm a mt. biker, when I'm over there, I'm typically focusing on hunting chukar.

    You are right, not a lot of restrictions on riding a bike on land in that area (east side of the mountains), and simply knocking on doors of the ranchers over there would likely get you a "sure, go ahead, just don't kill youself on my land" kind of answer. I'm trying to figure out the restrictions on the West side. ONDA (Oregon Natural Desert Association) is the group that put together the legislation, and that's why I contacted them to ask about biking there. Surprised I have not heard back from them. I believe the wilderness boundary is the Blitzen when you go south of the South Loop campground, with land to the east (up-mountain) within the wilderness, and land to the west outside of the wilderness.

    I would also think there may be some good riding that may be outside of the wilderness area in both McCoy and Kiger Canyons. I hope to hear back from the guys at ONDA, and will report what they say, here, when I do.

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    I've been scouring the web for Steens BC skiing info for the last year or so. My interest is access near the Big Alvord Creek area and the east side below the Steens Mt summit. It looks like both the Alvord and Kueney Ranchs have most of the east side locked up and only allow access during hunting season, August 1st through March 1st.

    GauchoGreg, You mention asking permission to access their land. Do you have experience with this? I'm hoping t ogo down there after March 1st. I have phone numbers for a couple Davis folks, I'm a little nervous about calling, didn't want to piss anybody off. And it's a long drive from Portland to just wing it.

    Here's a map I found of the areas open during hunting season.

    Alvord/Kueney Access Area
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  9. #9
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    Steens Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan View Post
    I've been scouring the web for Steens BC skiing info for the last year or so. My interest is access near the Big Alvord Creek area and the east side below the Steens Mt summit. It looks like both the Alvord and Kueney Ranchs have most of the east side locked up and only allow access during hunting season, August 1st through March 1st.

    GauchoGreg, You mention asking permission to access their land. Do you have experience with this? I'm hoping t ogo down there after March 1st. I have phone numbers for a couple Davis folks, I'm a little nervous about calling, didn't want to piss anybody off. And it's a long drive from Portland to just wing it.

    Here's a map I found of the areas open during hunting season.

    Alvord/Kueney Access Area
    The Davis family have always been great when we have knocked on their door, letting us hunt west of the road pretty much wherever, whenever, even before I got to know them. I have stayed with them a few times, too, and i have a crazy buddy that is a 5-star chef that stays there the whole month of January, most years.

    We do a lot of our hunting there in December and January. Not sure how much snow you can depend on over there in the shadow of the mountain for skiing. Light snow, though.

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    So, I just got word back from a head honcho at ONDA. First of all, he suggests the "Steens High Desert Country" map as a good resource. He also cited that mtn. bikes are allowed on "cherry-stemmed" roads in the Steens Mountain wilderness area. Specifically mentioned the Cold Springs Road which travels between the Little Blitzen and Fish Creek drainages.

    I need to rummage around in my maps and see if I have that one, and see about some of the "cherry-stemmed" roads to see if any of them would be fun, single-trackish type rides, or if they are just dusty double-tracks.

  11. #11
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    Wow, this is unbelievably good news. I have to wonder how or where he was able to say that bikes are allowed in the Wilderness Area, but I will take it.

    We are planning on being down there late next month. Wish it was sooner.

    Quote Originally Posted by GauchoGreg View Post
    So, I just got word back from a head honcho at ONDA. First of all, he suggests the "Steens High Desert Country" map as a good resource. He also cited that mtn. bikes are allowed on "cherry-stemmed" roads in the Steens Mountain wilderness area. Specifically mentioned the Cold Springs Road which travels between the Little Blitzen and Fish Creek drainages.

    I need to rummage around in my maps and see if I have that one, and see about some of the "cherry-stemmed" roads to see if any of them would be fun, single-trackish type rides, or if they are just dusty double-tracks.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

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    Quote Originally Posted by unicrown junkie View Post
    Wow, this is unbelievably good news. I have to wonder how or where he was able to say that bikes are allowed in the Wilderness Area, but I will take it.

    We are planning on being down there late next month. Wish it was sooner.
    Be careful, there. As I said, they are NOT allowed throughout the wilderness area. Be very clear on that. However, the are/may be on designated roads in the wilderness, he called them "cherry-stemmed" roads. He suggested to get the map, "Steens High Desert Country", which it sounds like actually identifies the areas they are permitted. I think I have used the map in the past, but have never specifically looked at it with regard to mt. biking. It makes sense that some roads are still allowed, because the loop road runs through the wilderness, but obviously bikes (as well as cars, motorcycles, etc.) are allowed on it. Whether or not any of those roads have any single-track character or not, and if they would be fun, is the real question.

  13. #13
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    No worries, the 5K fine is enough for me to stay out of any Wilderness Area for the moment.

    Right after you posted your earlier message I looked up the map, and am gonna get it.

    Looking at Wilderness.net's map it seems like the only roads are the Steens Mtn loop and maybe two others? If so, double track and semi-dusty is my guess. The topo lists an old jeep trail in the Little Blitzen to Fish Creek Drainage you mention, I am hoping it is acceptable for a ride.

    Need the damn map now! Arrghh.

    Quote Originally Posted by GauchoGreg View Post
    Be careful, there. As I said, they are NOT allowed throughout the wilderness area. Be very clear on that. However, the are/may be on designated roads in the wilderness, he called them "cherry-stemmed" roads. He suggested to get the map, "Steens High Desert Country", which it sounds like actually identifies the areas they are permitted. I think I have used the map in the past, but have never specifically looked at it with regard to mt. biking. It makes sense that some roads are still allowed, because the loop road runs through the wilderness, but obviously bikes (as well as cars, motorcycles, etc.) are allowed on it. Whether or not any of those roads have any single-track character or not, and if they would be fun, is the real question.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  14. #14
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    GauchoGreg I just picked up my map at the PO this morning, have you found yours?

    Summation trail wise: We're screwed.

    Looks like the only options are Cold Spring Rd, Fish Creek Rd and a couple of others besides the Steens Mtn Loop main road that are located within the Wilderness boundary.

    The Cold Spring Rd was my original intent, but after getting the map the climb from Riddle Ranch is only open to authorized vehicles. Will try and find out if bikes are OK on that section w/o pre-clearance. Otherwise this would be a damn good VRC loop by using it and the southern Steens Loop Rd to the South Steens campground.

    It's clearly marked on the map that any trail in the Wilderness Area is off-limits, but there is one weird anomaly the map doesn't address.

    Behind Alvord Hot Springs it list the trails as not being suitable for motorized vehicle use, and they are indicated on the map with green dots. A few other areas are this way too, so I am curious.

    Last, I wonder whether it's legal to cross the Wilderness Area on the old Military Wagon road, that's the only way I see to cut the distance down to get around to the east side w/o pavement needed.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

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    Unicrown,

    I have not found my map (or really looked for it), as we are still a week or two from heading over (likely to camp at Fish Lake). Will do so (find or buy a new map) this week.

    Sounds about right on the west side.

    As for the east side (up above Alvord Hot Spring), I do not believe there are any restrictions all the way up to the rim. We have run quads all over that land (as far up the hill as we could go, physically). There is an old mercury mine up the hill from the hot spring that has a trail/road to it, which would make a decent out-back ride with a hell of a climb. Lots of land to ride all over the east side, but TONS of fairly steep climbing, and generally all double track. Some of the game/livestock tracks are almost consistent enough to make for single-track riding, but I don't imagine I would go to the effort to try. Might be possible to ride up a jeep road and come down totally off road/trail, too. But as for the legality of riding on the east side, I don't think there is much to stop you.

  16. #16
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/burn...pendix%20P.pdf OK, I just finished going through this link from the BLM.

    I think this answers most of our questions.

    What I need to get is a special permit for that Riddle Ranch hillclimb, if possible.

    Lots of options with the permit.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  17. #17
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
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    Forgot to say go to page 87, that's where the map is.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

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