Looking back to my time on the Oregon Desert Trail with 1859
Last winter I was interviewed for this recent article in 1859 Magazine, and that interview has re-kindled a philosophical debate for me. This article prompted me to re-visit my 2013 hike of the Oregon Desert Trail, which was a darn good walk. The walk was darn good, partly because it was hard. Years later I am still grappling with the issues I stumbled upon out in Eastern Oregon, and last winter’s Malheur takeover added some new twists. My new high desert home is full of complexities, and I am still trying to figure out how a hiker like me (who really doesn’t like politics, but loves wild open spaces) can fit in a place that is brimming with controversy. I still have no solid answers about the politics & land management issues in Eastern Oregon, but I know I love it out there, and these public lands should stay in public hands. Thanks to Anna Bird from 1859 for asking good questions and getting my brain churning again about designation, public lands, and one of my favorite places, South Eastern Oregon.
The ODT is ripe for bikepacking. There are stretches that will need bike alternates, but with some creativity and time investment I think we could have a Bend to Idaho (Snake River, or maybe even Boise) route that mostly parallels the current Oregon Desert Trail.
I’m gonna lay out my thoughts on the current ODT path & it’s viability for a bikepacking route. This is a bit freeform, I hope it’s not too confusing… Feel free to contact me for clarification, comments, or questions!
My ODT bikepacking route thoughts:
ONDA has released their ODT guidebook and maps. They are certainly hiker focused, but are a good resource and starting point. There are only two wilderness areas along the route, the Badlands & the Steens. Hart Mountain NWR has bike restrictions, and the rest of the off trail sections are mostly not bike-able. Alternates would need to be found for about half of the current Oregon Desert Trail in order to make a Oregon Desert bike route. This is a new trail and is far from perfect! It is still in it’s fledgling stage and there is a lot of room for us to make it into a great adventure for bikers and hikers alike. Maybe if we put some thought into it now we can avoid the hiker/biker adversity that seems to crop up on some multi-use trails.
The start of the ODT is pretty sandy, and might be more suitable for fat bikes or for seasons while the sand is wet & a little more consolidated (winter and spring). I was impressed with the Horse Ridge area trails and views. The off road vehicle area between Horse Ridge and Pine Mnt. was neat, but SUPER sandy in […]
Outside Magazine chooses the Oregon Desert Trail as runner up “Best Desert Trip” in their 2014 awards. Oregon Natural Desert Association just released their guidebook info on the trail. It’s an exciting time for this fledgling route!
I’m happy to share trail beta and thoughts anyone planning a thru-hike of the ODT this summer. Feel free to contact me via email or facebook.