This is a 300 mile, five-day cycling tour circling and crossing the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon. Spectacular snow-capped mountain scenery, views into the Hells Canyon and Minam River, and a Nez Perce Trail across the Zumwalt Prarie are highlights, as well as small towns such as Halfway, Imnaha, Wallowa, and Cove promising memorable experiences.
Elevation gain is estimated at 21,000 ft. This route is one-third un-paved. A cross, gravel, or hybrid style bike is recommended. Low gearing will be beneficial on many of the climbs.
The course is designed for overnighting at campgrounds, usually with showers, and eating out most meals. This allows considerable weight savings by eliminating the need to cook.
Several gravel sections are remote and isolated with no cell service. A rescue beacon is recommended. The paved roads generally have a low traffic rate expressed as Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT). The highest is a short segment of Hwy 82 between Enterprise and Lostine of 2463 for 7 miles. For comparison, the AADT from Bend to Burns in Millican on Hwy 20 is 1424, and from Bend to Sisters on Hwy 20 is 10,106.
The Wallowa Mountains are sometimes considered to be an eastern spur of the Blue Mountains, and known as the “Alps of Oregon” … Wallowa is a Nez Perce word describing a triangular structure of stakes … The range is drained by the Wallowa River, which flows from the north side of the mountains, and its tributary the Minam River, which flows through the west side of the range. The Imnaha River flows from the east side of the range. … the area was home to the Wallowa band of the Lower Nez Perce … [Wikipedia]
The Sparta Ditch was built in 1871 to facilitate gold mining in that area …An established Chinatown supported three Chinese stores, a temple; a Chinese doctor; a laundry; gambling establishments; and a bordello. [Oregon Encyclodepia]
The Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce were the original human inhabitants of the Zumwalt Prairie… measuring 330,000 acres… with some portions protected as the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy. [Wikipedia]
Forty trail riders arriving from nine states and Canada prepared for the Chief Joseph Trail Ride … although breathtaking scenery marked this hundred-mile trail ride, participants could not help but sense, with awe-inspiring impact, the difficulties which beset Chief Joseph … [Riding The Chief Joseph Trail]
An historic landmark in Eastern Oregon, geothermal springs have warmed the Cove pool continuously for more than 75 years… The pool is constantly refreshed by the flow of sweet mineral water at a rate of 110 gallons per minute. [Cove Community Association]
When the mountain passes are clear of snow, usually June through September.
Travel to Baker City. The Mountain View RV Park and Churchill School Bike & Ski Hostel are good places to stage the tour from.
Lat / Long: 44.796177, -117.840795
Ridden & Reviewed by: BenG / Team Dirty Freehub
Goat’s Head (Tribulus Terrestris) on some shoulders.