Very flat, wide doubletrack can be a good starting trail for kids. Be mindful of choppy rocks in some places though.
The mellow multiuse rail trail is a nice change of pace from more aggressive rides in and around Hood River and perfect for early spring when the majority trails are wet, muddy, or snowed in. However, during the summer months the dry wide open terrain has little shade and can be very hot.
Need to Know
The route is a simple out and back along the nearly flat former railroad grade. The hard-packed gravel tread allows you to cover more ground, just keep your comfortable cumulative mileage in mind with respect to the required return trip.
The ride starts from Deschutes River State Park located just east of The Dalles where the Deschutes and Columbia Rivers meet. From the small parking lot just to the left of the entrance road, head uphill, past a gate, and continue on the wide gravel road. During spring the vivid, green sage-covered hills line the river valley. Near the three-mile mark there is a short, steep descent followed by a moderate climb back up with sections of concrete slabs. Here the trail deviates slightly from its straight-line course as a former trestle crossing no longer exists. As you continue further on, the trail rises higher above the flowing river giving way to more great valley views.
It's worth taking a minute to check out the old abandoned rail cars lining the side of the trail providing a glimpse into the distant past. As the trail continues to wind along the river you'll pass by massive rock cliffs that were cut to make room for the rail line. Just after reaching the 11-mile mark you'll approach the remnant structures of Harris Ranch. This is a good spot for a peaceful, scenic snack, after which you can decide to continue on or head back.
Although not mapped here, the trail does actually continue winding south for several more miles but finally ends near the 20-mile mark only continuing as a faint, rugged hiking route. Making the extended journey to this far end and is a long trek for a single day's riding. If bike camping, a side excursion from your base camp may be a better way to explore the entire route.
Shared By: Anthony Harasimowicz