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Deschutes River State Recreation Area Bike Path Professional Review and Guide
"One of the features of this park is a gravel "rails-to-trails" bike path; it heads up the east side of the Deschutes. Huge basalt cliffs and dry grassy hillsides line the route. The scenery imparts an almost southwestern feel to the ride. There is one short, moderately steep section where the path drops down to cross the creek. A good ride is traveling 11.2 miles to the abandoned Harris Ranch. The return is just downhill enough to take the edge off of the pedaling. The trailhead in the Deschutes River State Recreation Area is located approximately 35 miles east of Hood River (about 15 miles east of The Dalles)."
--Laurie & Chris Leman, Mountain Bike! Oregon (Menasha Ridge Press).
This is a great family ride. The trail winds it's way East through the canyon with views of the river all along the way. The trail itself is a very gentle grade all along except for the short climb up to the trail and between 3 and 4 miles - the drop down and back up. This is a short push for those that can't grind it out. It can get very hot so do take lots of water. Also, there are lots of ticks in the area, so if you venture down by the river, beware in the tall grass and check yourself afterwards. There are not many soft sandy areas at all, but there is some washboard sections as well as rocky sections that may slow you down a bit. Other than that, it is as fast or leisurely of a ride as you want. We did not venture past Harrison Ranch.
First of all...it's not a ride you want to take in july!!! HOT. Hot. Hot. That aside, get to the park off Hwy26, about 40 miles East of PDX. A grassy park awaits you and is the beginning of the ride. $5 per night, can you believe it? No vehicles on the trail, horses can only go out 8.5 miles but Mt. Bikes can g all the way to the end. Take a camera, there's a ghost town near the end. Stay out of the buildings, they are in terrible shape and full of RATTLERS. Don't forget to pack plenty of water. If you plan to loop it in a day, start early.
I really enjoyed this trail, it is excellent for beginners as well as advanced riders. The only caution I would throw out is that it can get really hot and you should be sure to bring plenty of water, or even a hydration pack would be useful. We had to stop and put our water in the river between rocks to cool off at one point during the ride, oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!
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