So, I’ve whined (bitched?) about not being able to mountain bike from my front door like I used to in NH. However, just a short 10 miles away is the start of some pretty spectacular gravel roads that can lead you up into the logging roads of the Tualatin Mountains. I’ve talked about Dixie Mtn Road before, but I’d never ventured further than it’s intersection with Rocky Point. I was getting the itch to get in a longer ride and wanted to also do something a bit different. Top it all off with some pretty spectacular weather for the past 6 days and some quality time with Google Maps and the Benchmark Oregon maps and I had a route planned.
I had posted on the OBRA forums looking for people to join me. 2 had indicated they were game, but they never showed up to our meeting spot and time, I even gave them an extra 15 minutes. So, it was going to be a solo day.
From the second I started climbing on the dirt, it would be just about 25 miles before hitting pavement again. The roads were in varying condition, but all pretty good. It looks like the heavy rains from last weekend may have caused a couple washouts and it looks like some recent areas of gravel had been freshly laid down, but not been compacted yet. For the most part though it looked much like what you see above.
So my rides up here would take me to the right and back towards Skyline and Rock Creek. Today it was time to find out exactly where the left would take me. I’ve been blessed with a pretty good sense of direction, and many of my favorite rides in life started out as exploration rides. So with my maps research and a good attitude, I turned left.
Turns out it is sparsely populated, with a couple Christmas tree farms and some cows and horses. Not much else.
The original plan was to go Otto Miller to Dutch Canyon and try to get back to Smoke Ranch (the top sign) via Tupper Road. It’s the Tupper connection that most people seem to question if it is doable. I made an executive decision to just follow Smoke Ranch from here. 1. It was just me and 2. I told Mia I’d only been gone 4 hours and was already doubting the validity of that statement at this point. Where my sense of direction is pretty good, my ability to judge time and distance can tend to be off. Just ask Paul about my belief that all races in Massachusetts are 1.5 hours away from our hometown of Concord, NH.
So going straight onto Smoke Ranch, there was a Dead End sign. I had a very weak cell phone signal and pulled up Google Maps. It seemed to indicate it would go all the way through to Pumpkin Ridge. I assumed (correctly it turns out) that it would dead end at a timber company gate.
It was a bit of a guessing game at this point. No more convenient street signs to guide me. I ended up following Tupper for a bit when I should have stayed straight and hit the aforementioned timber gate in about 100 yards.
Instead I followed a much rougher section of logging road compared to what I had been traveling on.
It was still rideable with the Niner RLT, just a bit slower going. Would have been awesome on the Sasla Fargo. I dead ended at a clearcut, so turned around to come back to a junction just prior to the picture above. I went right (would have been left/straight earlier) here instead and found the timber company gate right away. On the way back to this particular junction though, I went by a “cleaner” section of gravel road that started to go down (north?) and to the right (east?). This has to be the section of Tupper Road that will some how hook up with Dutch Canyon.
Not long before this a father and son had passed me in a truck. They were not parked at timber company gate, and I did not see them when I hit my dead end. So I have to guess that they followed that section of road down and to the right.
The section of Smoke Ranch after the gate was in decent shape. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was mostly downhill or flat and went by a couple small ponds and a stream. Eventually I came to another gate and found a rather disturbing item…..the fur and head of what appears to be an elk (*warning* gross picture below)
There was something that looked like a throat and heart, maybe lungs on my side of the gate, and this carcass on the other side. So for the time being, if you do this loop from the Pumpkin Ridge Rd side, just look for the dead elk, that is Smoke Ranch Road.
Luckily I had ridden all the way out Pumpkin Ridge to it’s end a couple month ago and pretty much recognized exactly where I was (sense of direction again…….).
I hope Alison Rhodes sees this picture. She’ll likely call it the “Rhodes Look”, as most of us Rhodes Boys tend to have this same look when taking pictures of ourselves. I don’t know of Lori, Donna or Frani have the same look?
Pumpkin Ridge Rd is a pretty sweet ride, and has several paved and gravel options to drop down into Dairy Creek Road or out towards Mountaindale Road.
I did end up making it back home in just a touch over 4 hours. So I did get to keep my promise to Mia. However, the Otto Miller/Dutch Canyon connection really has me interested now. I have to see if they do connect. I’m fairly convinced that they will.
So, hopefully next time I can get some people to meet me. While I don’t necessarily mind talking to myself for 4 hours, it might be more fun to chat with somebody else.
Thanks for reading and here is a link to the GPS Info