Wallowa Barn Tour

5 Star Route

This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.


Experience the living history of the Wallowa Valley through this unique and beautiful tour of barns as you meander through the farming and ranching country of the Wallowa Valley east of Joseph. The low traffic flow, well-aged pavement, and county maintained gravel roads make for a memorable tour with breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, hay fields, barns, and everyday rural living.

This is a must do ride if you like beautiful barns backdropped by big mountains and very moderate terrain with a mix of gravel and paved roads.

Note that this route guide is still a work in progress, but the routes is so good (culturally and ride wise) that we have decided to publish it without all the multi-media content in place. Thus, we could use a bit of your help. We need pictures with barn name or mileage maker (see details section for an example) and video! Email us at info@DirtyFreehub.org with your stuff.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 28 miles / 1100 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 45% gravel, 55 % paved
eBike Friendly: yes
– Location: ~ Joseph, OR
– Published: August 2021

Terrain & Technical Riding Difficulty[what this means]

Easier

Technical Difficulty. The gravel roads are county maintained, hard-packed, and fast riding. The steepest grade along the route is 5% on pavement and only for a short distance.

Navigation. There are a number of turns along the route, but a missed or wrong turn is easily corrected.

Remoteness. There are a number of ranches and farmhouses along the route; thus, expect some light traffic.

When we like to ride this …

… in the spring when the fields are green and the mountain peaks are snow-capped. If Joseph is clear of snow, the route is rideable.

The Start

Park along the side of Crow Creek road at the intersection triangle of Crow Creek Road, Eggleson Lane, and Highway 82.
Lat / Long: 45.396038, -117.230237

Credits & Acknowledgements

A really big shout out to the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce for development of the Wallowa Barn Tour guide and for allowing us to use a significant amount content from that guide in this route description.

This route is a gravel variation of the Crow Creek road ride published by Mountain Works Bicycles in La Grande, Oregon. A big thank you to them!

Legend

Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.


Ride Details

You will pass by 9 of the 31 barns highlighted in the Wallowa Barn Tour guide on this ride. We recommend printing out the guide, snapping a picture of it, or picking up a copy at the Visitor Center in Joseph and taking it along on the ride.

Please keep in mind that these barns are private property, many of them working ranches, so this is a “ride by” scenic experience only.

Also, do not let elevation profile intimidate you; it is very deceiving. It looks like one big climb and descent when in fact, the first 16 miles gain ~ 1100 feet with an average gradient of 1%. The steepest climbing occurs just before mile 16, where it pitches up to 5% for a short distance; however, the climbing is on pavement.

Highlights of the route:

Triple Creek Ranch Octagon Barn (~ mile 13.6)

Built in 1906. Napoleon Beaudoin used this barn as part of a large sheep raising operation. Crossed Sabers Ranch is inscribed over the barn doors to commemorate owner Allan Carpenter’s stint in the cavalry. One of Wallowa County’s most photographed barns.

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Stricker Barns (~ mile 15.2)

Built circa 1900-1920. Both barns were built by the well known early settlers, the Down family. The Strickler family bought the property in 1940 and operated a hay and cattle ranch. The ranch is now part of Triple Creek Ranch.

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McClain Barn (~ mile 18.9)

The McClains were raising hogs and dairy cows when the barn was built in 1920. Margaret McClain recalled that the cream was what put groceries on the table. The old farmhouse has been replaced, and a riding arena added. Al Adelsberger is the current owner of the ranch.

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Lone Star Barn (~ mile 19.1)

Built in 1935 by the Varney family, this barn was primarily used for sheep and livestock. The top half stores hay. Beautiful barn and backdrop.

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The Joseph Cemetery (~ mile 20.8)

We found little historical information on the cemetery itself; however, we took some time to wander and look: old headstones and grand views of the Wallowa mountains.

Joseph Cemetery
Brennan Barn (~ mile 22)

Built in 1933 by the Daggett family, the original owner was Ben Marks. After a few owners, the property was purchased by Mike Brennan and his family in 1961. The OK Quarter Circle brand on the barn is best known for Walter Brennan, a western movie star who made Wallowa County his home. Mike Brennan still owns this ranch.

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Knapper Barn (~ mile 22.5)

The Knapper family built this barn in 1903 and used it for a small dairy. The milking parlor is on one side, with horse stalls on the other side. Hay was stored in the center of the barn. It is now known as the Smith barn.

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Alford Barn (~ mile 23.3)

Built in 1915 by H.D. Davidheiser for horses and a small dairy. The Alford family has owned this property since 1936. Beside this barn is the beautiful, historic farm home.

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Rudger Barn (~ mile 23.7)

Built in 1905. Historically, this was the Rudger farm for years, and it was a dairy operation. The current owners are Rob & Ary Lamb.

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IRA Race Barn (~ mile 25)

This barn was built in 1913 by a crew of traveling builders that went from town to town building barns for a living. The barn was used to store hay, and horse stalls were later added. Now two owls reside here, along with many stored items.

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Food & Water

None

Ride Notes

~ 35 to 40 mm tires. Most of the roads are county maintained gravel roads, fast and hard-packed.

We recommend a red blinky light for safety as many of the roads are used by farmers and ranchers for everyday work.

Ride Options

Shorter. There are several options to make the route shorter by using some east/west connectors:

  • At mile 1.1 go right on Crow Creek Road (paved).
  • At mile 9 go right on Bicentennial Road (paved).
  • At mile 14.7 go right on Kinney Lake Lane to Front Road.

Longer. An optional start is from the City Park in Joseph. This option adds 13 miles total (7 miles of gravel) and 450 feet of additional gain, and one additional barn at mile 6.3.

Comments

Revision History

  • October 2021 / Added pictures from RussellC.
  • August 2021 / Original Post as a 5 Star Route. Posted without having all the mult-media (slidedeck, barn pictures, videos, and and podcasts) in place.

Get Involved!

This route is a work in progress – we need your help to make it complete. What you can do:

  • Submit pictures of the Barns by name. See the details section for an example of what we need.
  • Submit short videos of the ride (drone stuff is really cool!).
  • Submit route notes.

You can leave us feedback in the comments tab.

The area in and around Joseph is some of the most beautiful in all of Oregon. Rugged mountains, lush valleys. One of the organizations involved in protecting and preserving these lands is the Wallowa Land Trust. We would encourage you to take a look at their work and consider a give back after enjoying some of these special lands.


The Ride!

Coming soon …

The Beauty & Heritage of Wallowa County

Wallowa County is my Paradise


Podcasts!

Coming Soon…

  • More About the Barns… (Wallowa County)
  • Preserving Lands (Wallowa Land Trust)
  • Joseph (A Town of History)

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