Deschutes River Old Railbed Trail

After the Klickitat Trail ride a couple weeks ago, I was committed to riding the old railbed trail out of the Deschutes River State Park . I wanted to hit it up before the end of 2016.  The weather here in the PDX area this October has been best described as crappy.  I saw on the news last weekend that it had already been the wettest October on record, and we were not even half way through with the month.

The long range forecast at the start of the week showed that the coming weekend was looking good.  So I booked a campsite out at the Deschutes River State Park and convinced Dean to join me for the 34ish mile ride (turned out closer to 37).  As it turns out, the weather was awesome and Dean was stoked to be able to use the ALiner for another night of camping.

Nice blue sky and gorgeous views

What this ride lacks in technical difficulty or elevation gain it makes up for in views.  You’re riding along the Deschutes River for the duration.  This trail would be a great “intro to bikepacking” or even your fist backpacking trip because it is simple and there are plenty of campsites further in along the trail.  We ran into both a group of boys (my bet is boy scouts) hiking in with some adults and a small group of cyclists with varying degrees of bikes/camping setups.

Dean is happy to be riding again
Passing the other group of bike campers and one of their dogs

I had read about the trail a long time ago, even before the thought of moving to Oregon was on the radar.  When I was first warming up to the idea of bikepacking I ran across a post from the guys over at Velodirt talking about this ride.  Things like the abandoned homestead and the rail car caught my interest.

A German Shepherd hanging in old rail car

About 11 or so miles into the ride you come across the old homestead.  It’s leaning a bit more to the right compared to other pictures I have seen of it.  I don’t imagine it will be standing for much longer.  It seems like one good winter wind storm and this house will be a pile of old lumber.


some old newspaper on the wall, probably used for insulation



After exploring a bit of the house and yard, we continued on to the end of the trail.  It kind of just ends at a washout just over 18 miles from the campground.  Fair warning to those who wish to ride much beyond the farmhouse, there are a lot of goathead thorns.  Dean ended up with 3 flats (He’s convinced to go tubeless now) and I picked out at least 4-5 thorns from the rear tire on the Farley.

Flat # 1
Trail ends more or less at the large rock pile in the foreground
very calming ride

We ended up with a nice long and mellow day of riding.  Temps stayed steady in the upper 50’s low 60’s for the duration, saw lots of people out hiking, riding, fishing and rafting too.  I don’t think I was the only one with a little cabin fever after a few wet weeks.

you cannot camp without a fire.  It is forbidden!

Basically we just hung out for the evening, talked with a couple other campers about the Farley and stood around the fire.  Dean’s mom was texting him updates about the Cubs game during the evening too.

breaking in the Aliner’s cooktop

It was nice to sleep in until 7:30AM.  That doesn’t happen very often at home.  Cooked a nice breakfast, packed up and hit the road.  Back home to Mia, Codi and Caleb by 1pm.

Thanks to Dean for bringing the camper.  It usually doesn’t take much to convince him to do rides like this with me.  We also spent a lot of time talking about camp trailers vs Class B and C motorhomes.  Mia and I are in the very early stages of planning a future purchase.  After this weekend’s conversations I may be leaning towards a Class C.

all the pics here

Thanks for reading,


3 Comments Add yours

  1. adventurepdx says:

    Very nice! I hoped you would dig the trail. It’s been a couple years since I did it (April of 2014) but I have a report here:
    I heeded the warning about goatheads and only went a little past the ranch, to the watertower. Thankfully, the others in my group who went further didn’t run into issues.
    I’d like to get back there, maybe in spring. Maybe I’ll try one of the primitive campgrounds along the trail. Though the main campground is pretty nice!

    1. onrhodes says:

      It was a fun ride. More than anything the scenery is stellar.

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