This route loops you up and through the White River Wildlife area, into the ghost town of Friend, around the east side of the Badger Creek Wilderness area via a one-lane paved Forest Service road and back down to Tygh Valley on a gravel road with expansive views near the end. For those of you with an adventurous spirit, you will will love this ride. You also pass by a local swimming hole, and a waterfall so hidden there’s a great chance you will miss it. We love the combination of views, farm lands, forest …. and the visit to the well preserved Friend schoolhouse.
Spring through fall. Summer can be hot! Early spring can have a significant stream crossing and could possibly be muddy. The section of the White River Wilderness area that the route goes through is closed December 1 to March 31st for black-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk migration.
Wasco County Fairgrounds. Flush toilets and water. Camping with hookups.
Lat / Long: 45.253265, -121.207325
The start is at the Wasco County Fairgrounds. It has parking, flush toilets and camping with hookups. Heading north and then east out of Tygh Valley, you come across small cattle farms with lovely, open grazing areas. Instead of cattle, we spotted lots of deer resting in the shade of the pine trees.
At mile 3.9 is where your adventure begins. There’s a tricky turn to your right. Yes, it is the smallest of the roads and it appears to be someone’s driveway. The road is primitive. See the slide deck above for more information.
The road climbs through and out of a canyon, eventually leading to views of the river to your right. At mile 5.6 there is a path leads down to the swimming hole. It is easy to miss … but if you see a large dirt “parking area” to you left, you have gone beyond the swimming hole trail. Also, at mile 6.4 there is trail to the right to a hidden waterfall.
From here and beyond, it’s a zig zag journey on rough gravel until you reach Friend. Sometimes you have open views, sometimes you are making your way through a smattering of trees and sometimes it is tall grass all around you.
The historic Friend schoolhouse does not appear to be locked. We stepped inside to get more of the history and to place our fingers on the old piano, that was just ready for an impromptu concert.
Leaving the ghost town of Friend and heading west, you get a small dose of paved road followed by a wide and fast rolling gravel road. Soon, you make a left hand turn onto a single lane paved Forest Service road that hugs the eastern edge of the Badger Creek Wilderness area. For the first 6 miles the road rolls up and down, with no net gain in elevation. At mile 20, the downward descent into Tygh Valley begins.
At mile 23, make a left onto the gravel road. For us, this section of gravel was moderately to heavily washboarded, but a smooth line could usually be found towards the road edges. Interestingly, and unexpectedly, the closer we got to Tygh Valley the better the road condition become. And to finish things off on a high note, you get some really scenic vista views near the end of the descent. When the pavement returns, it is just a few clicks back to the Fairgrounds.
Have you ridden this route? Got a question? Join the discussion!