This route has you winding your way through two scenic canyons, Egypt Canyon and Dick Miller Canyon, and circumnavigating Dry Mountain. And, as a bonus … you will cruise by open farm lands with green pastures and sparkling creeks, along Ponderosa and Juniper forests, and past limestone rock formations.
The Snow mountain road crew is completing a motor way from the upper Silver Creek section to the summit of Dry Mountain on which Mr. J.T. Choate will serve as lookout-fireman for the coming summer. A new telephone line was constructed there last year, so with these improvements more efficient fire protection can be given to that extremely hazardous portion of the forest. [Central Oregonian, July 1929]
But, before you hit the download button, let’s highlight the word rugged. This whole area is the reason why some of us choose fatter tires. You may get lulled into thinking that with 15 miles of pavement, 40 mm tires are the way to go. It may be for some, but not for us. No whining after the fact!
Mid spring through mid summer when the creeks are flowing, the wetlands are full of water and the flowers are in full bloom.
Along the shoulder of Miller Canyon road. At the intersection of Silver Creek Road (paved), Miller Canyon (gravel) Road, and Oakermann Lane (gravel). ~ 1.6 miles north of Highway 20. No services.
Lat / Long: 43.564808, -119.536531
From the makeshift parking area, lead out on Silver Creek Road (paved) to the west. The first 13 miles, all paved, makes for a nice warm up. The terrain is gentle and quite unique. To your left is Silver Creek and it’s associated wetlands and it’s alluvial plain. Birds abound. We saw a red tailed hawk.
An alluvial plain is a largely flat landform created by the deposition of sediment over a long period of time by one or more rivers coming from highland regions, from which alluvial soil forms. A floodplain is part of the process, being the smaller area over which the rivers flood at a particular period of time, whereas the alluvial plain is the larger area representing the region over which the floodplains have shifted over geological time. [Wikipedia]
At mile 12 begin the drop into the Upper Valley of Silver Creek. At the bottom of the descent go right on the gravel road that parallels Wickiup Creek. Gradually climb, working your way into Egypt Canyon. A short, but beautiful canyon with rock walls that flash of red and green.
Continue along. The road is sometimes rough and gnarly, pick your line carefully. At mile 17 Wickiup Creek turns north, you continue east, picking up Egypt Creek at mile 19. Follow the creek until mile 22, a decision point. Continue straight for the “official” route or go right on NF-4135 to shorten the route.
By continuing straight (now within the Ochoco National Forest), the route begins to climb, leaving the wetlands and passing by limestone rock outcroppings and moving into Ponderosa forest. At mile 26, you intersect NF-41 (paved). Go right. Soon, to your left will be the history of an old burn. To your right will be mature Ponderosa forest. The route continues to climb a bit more, until the next right onto NF-4120 (gravel). From mile 22 to 29 you gain 800 feet. From mile 29 on it is all downhill or flat.
The Ochoco National Forest encompasses 850,000 acres (3,440 km2) of rimrock, canyons, geologic oddities, dense pine forests, and high desert terrain, as well as the headwaters of the North Fork Crooked River. [Wikipedia]
The initial miles of the second gravel sector are through new growth forest with a few views of the surrounding hills and mountains. At mile 32 you pick up Dick Miller Canyon. It’s remote and the road is rugged … but “oh” so beautiful.
At mile 34 you re-connect with the shorter route option. The fun and beauty of Dick Miller Canyon continues until mile 40.[micro-video clip] Be watchful, as we saw a large rattlesnake in this area.
You are at the end of the canyon when you come to a watering hole for cattle. Just after this is a gate, pass through it, and close it. Yes, you are on public lands, even though it may not feel that way. As you continue southwest for the next 1.5 miles the road condition can be quite variable. At times it may have deep ruts, at other times, like after grading, it is a relatively easy go.
Just before mile 41, make a soft left onto Miller Canyon Road. This is a hard packed and fast gravel road. It rolls just a bit. In a few miles you are are back at the start.
If you are looking for silky smooth gravel roads, this is not the route! Expect some gnar, broken shale stone, and washboard (not a lot). We rode this route on 50 mm tires, set up tubeless with CushCore inserts, and reduced tire pressures to less than 18 psi. The route is doable on 40 mm tires, but this will require more bike handling skill. Some riders may prefer a hardtail mountain bike for this route.
This area is remote. Little to no cell phone reception and few vehicles, if any. On our ride, we saw nobody (unless you count cows as a somebody).
If you are looking for a longer route, you can construct several routes of varying lengths by picking elements of this ride along with Pink Lady and Giants Throwing Stones. For a composite overview, see this map.