Friday, April 27, 2018

Mountain Biking in the Wallowas

Photo courtesy of Brian Sather, the Grizzly Ridge Trail near Imnaha.
Mountain bikers who plan to do some riding in Wallowa County should check out the network of mapped, signed and maintained trails south of Joseph, which are promoted by the Wallowa Chamber of Commerce with maps and instructions. Trailheads are near Ferguson Ridge Snow Park, 14 miles south of Joseph, and at the Salt Creek Summit pull-out, 19 miles south of town. Riding season is typically mid-June to the end of October.

The Redmont Trail Area near Joseph, Oregon
The trails lie mostly within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and include rides suitable for beginner to advanced. Bike riders will find a mix of single track, double track, and dirt/gravel roads that traverse forested terrain with several meadow openings that reveal views of the mountains.

A contributor to the in the mtbr forum says the Redmont Trail has "some decent tread for about a 14-mile loop." Another wasn't quite as impressed due to an undesirable amount of double track and overgrown roads. But from reading the Wallowa Chamber's website, it looks like more energy has gone into rider hospitality in recent years.

Even so, MTB opportunities are limited in the Wallowa area despite the profusion of wide open country and public lands. For example, no bikes are allowed on the trails around Wallowa State Park and much of the surrounding forest beyond the park is Wilderness. The beautiful grasslands of  Zumwalt Prairie north of town are also off limits to bikes.

Mountain bikers are naturally attracted to the idea of hauling their gear up Howard Mountain on the Tram on the south end of Wallowa Lake, but that desire is unfortunately not supported by the owners at this time.

There are a few other cool rides you may want to check out on the way to Joseph. The Elkhorn Crest Trail near Baker offers single track, and there are riding opportunities between Enterprise and the Grande Ronde River in the Sled Springs OHV area along State Hwy 82.
For detailed insights about these trails and other possibilities, check MTB enthusiast Brian Sather's Mountain Bike Guides for Joseph on LaGrande Ride Inc,