Cycle Oregon XXI
2008: The Wild Wheeled West
Day 1 – September 7: Elgin to Union (44.7 miles)
“Peace in the Valley” Map
We ease into the week with a placid day of backcountry beauty. From the quintessential Western town of Elgin, we roll out through the Grande Ronde Valley, where the river meanders, the soil is rich and the views are inspiring. Lunch is in tiny Cove with its picturesque Ascension Chapel, an 1869 jewel still used today. After lunch it’s a straight shot into Union, with the rugged Eagle Cap Wilderness to the east, looming with promises of the week to come.
Day 2 – September 8: Union to Baker City (43.3 or 82.1 miles)
“The Long or Short of It” Map
The road out of historic Union along Catherine Creek is among the most bucolic rides around. A long, gradual climb pays off with a descent into a scenic valley at Medical Springs. From there you’ll pedal through sagebrush draws, rimrock vistas and mixed conifer forests and on into Baker City. Feel like more? Continue on through Haines and North Powder, looping back to Baker City along the base of the Elkhorn Mountains.
Day 3 – September 9: Baker City to Halfway (52.5 miles)
“Highway to Hells” Map
Today you set out on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Start the day with a warm-up ride to the splendid Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside Baker City. Then you’ll join up with the winding Powder River, riding beside it for miles before stopping for lunch in Richland. After fueling up, challenge yourself with a serious climb, then swoop on down into Pine Valley and Halfway.
Day 4 – September 10: Hells Canyon Option (35.0 or 80.0 miles)
“Dam Fine Choices” Map
Today is all about what you want. Feel like hanging around Halfway? Great; relax. Want a nice little spin out to Oxbow Dam and back, for an up-close look at Hells Canyon and the Snake River? No sweat. Feel like an in-depth exploration of the canyon? Spin up the Idaho side to the end of the road at Hells Canyon Dam. If you do head to a dam, just remember: On an out-and-back, what first goes down must later go up.
Day 5 – September 11: Halfway to Wallowa Lake (76.5 miles)
“Triple High-Pass” Map
Today will be a challenge. We have three – feel ’em, three – major climbs, plus a bonus hill for masochists. Leaving Pine Valley, you’ll climb into the Wallowas, passing through multiple vegetation zones, but relax into it – the scenery makes it worthwhile. It’s your choice whether to propel up to the stunning Hells Canyon Overlook. Descend to lunch, then climb some more before soaking in the views along Little Sheep Creek, into Joseph and along the edge of Wallowa Lake.
Day 6 – September 12: Joseph/Enterprise Loop (Options; 5-60 miles)
“See What You’re Saving” Map
What luxury – a second layover day! Lounge around Wallowa Lake in the shadow of “The Oregon Alps,” spin on your own, or head out for a unique two-wheeled scavenger hunt (details to come). Either way, note the natural beauty of the rugged moraines skirting the lake – this year’s Cycle Oregon Fund Signature Grant is helping protect key moraine lands from development pressure. This is one of the prettiest camp settings anywhere.
Day 7 – September 13: Wallowa Lake to Elgin (57.0 miles)
“The Grand Finale” Map
Somehow we’ve managed to revisit the best of the week all in the final day’s ride. You’ll skirt the lake, then glide through high-country meadows, follow the winding Wallowa River through a narrow and spectacular nine-mile canyon, rise up the Minam Grade and cruise into Elgin – all with the Wallowa Mountains as your western horizon. Lakes, plateaus, rivers, canyons and mountains – yep, sounds about perfect.