Mountain Biking in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa County
Out in the forests of northeast Oregon, there’s a place where putting knobby tire to trail will reward you with peeks at high-up mountaintops, views of a winding river valley, and glimpses into your very own mountain biker’s soul.
That place is Wallowa County, where simple trails offer mountain bikers the solace they seek — and the curvy single-track they crave.
“This is old-school, traditional mountain biking out here,” says Jerry Hustafa, president of the Eagle Cap Nordic Club, which maintains the trails. “There’s a certain trail aesthetic — an ambience,” he says. “The trails aren’t crowded; they’re minimally marked. It’s a great place for self-discovery.”
Wallowa County’s two flagship trails are the Redmont and Wagon Road systems. They were created by the Eagle Cap Nordic Club and the Forest Service in the ’90s for both nordic skiing and mountain biking use, and the club maintains them for both seasons. These are backcountry trails, and they’re beautifully rustic — you won’t find fancy facilities, but you won’t find the crowds that come with them, either.
After a day of riding, the nearby towns of Enterprise and Joseph offer restaurants and lodging options, and you won’t want to miss a post-ride pint at Enterprise’s Terminal Gravity brewery or Joseph’s Mutiny Brewing Company. Also close are a huge variety of hiking and equestrian trails in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, along with the majestic Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Lake Tramway.
Planning a trip out to ride Wallowa County? Here are a few tips from Jerry:
- The trails are open from about June to October, or whenever it starts snowing.
- You can pick up a trail map at the Forest Service office in Joseph, the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce, or Joseph Hardware.
- As far as riding in the rain, the two main trails have mostly sandy soil – but other trails in the system might get too sticky to be enjoyable.
- If you can swing a trip in late summer or early fall, the forest’s Western Larch put on a spectacular display of fall colors.
- Watch out for hikers and horses, and possibly hunters — trail open season overlaps with hunting season, so you might want to leave your camo bike jersey at home!