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Thread: Would love some Oregon Washington road suggestions

  1. #46
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtgates View Post
    ]Mid summer you can continue from Enterprise to Joseph and then down the Hells Canyon towards Oxbox. Excellent barely 2 lane road.


    Continue North on Hwy 3 to SE Washington and you'll find this plus lots more. This is from the Oregon side looking North. At the bottom of the canyon, stop at Boggens for a slice of pie!
    I rode Route 3 heading north out of Enterprise about 5 years ago along with Route 12, Lolo Pass, that same day to Missoula. Truly outstanding roads and thanks to the forum for sending me that way at the time. I indeed stopped at Boggens and while I didn't get the pie ( I think I had breakfast), I did manage to get a t-shirt with the snake on the back.

    I'm planning on trying Hell's Canyon for the first time as I head for home. I'd be starting in Enterprise and either following it to Baker, Oregon to hop on 84 to Boise or there is a Hwy 71 near Oxford that heads for Cambridge where I can pick up 95 south. Do I miss an important part of that ride by cutting off below Cambridge? The section from Cambridge going through the town of Halfway looks like I might be missing something.

    Anything I need to know about Hell's canyon? Such as unpaved roads or weather? On the map the road looks very narrow with not much out there in the way of gas or food.

    I'm now three weeks away from starting this trip and really psyched!

  2. #47
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    The Hells Canyon area between Oregon and Idaho is very unique, very remote, and well worth exploring--if you have the proper tools.

    Years ago, after the last MOA rally in Missoula, I spent a couple of days in the area, riding from Council NW to the edge of the canyon, and descending down the Kleinschmidt grade to the river. I was driving an airhead/Ural sidecar rig, but this is doable on a GS. The road between Council and the canyon is mostly gravel, but usually in good condition.

    As it happens, there is a power line road on the Oregon side, just about opposite the bottom of the Kleinschmidt. I ascended the power line road, to intersect wtih the road to Joseph. At the time there had been some serious washouts in the area, and the center of this road had a deep trench--which fortunately I could straddle with the hack.

    I camped overnight at a nice grassy campground just at the bottom of the Kleinschmidt. I wish I had taken the time to ride to the end of the road at the Hells Canyon Dam.

    If you choose to avoid the really steep unpaved roads, at least ride 71 to Cambridge, 95 to New Meadows, and either continue north on 95, or head east and south to McCall. All ot the highways in the Idaho mountains are scenic and remote, including 21, 75, and 93.

    I suggest getting a detailed map of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest-HQ at PO Box 907, Baker City OR 97814 tel (503) 523-6391.

    Yes, do spend a few days in this area.

    pmdave

  3. #48
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    Hells Canyon is very different from others such as the Grand Canyon, although it is just as deep. The walls of the canyon curve away as they go up, so you can't see the bottom from a view at the "top" and you can't see the "top" from a view at the bottom. You just see the curvature of the cliffs, and from what you can see they don't seem that tall (or deep).

    Even at Imnaha you can't really see much of the canyon. You have to ride the dirt out to Hat Point to get the impressive view. And the road from Joseph to the Oxbow Dam is scenic, but you still don't get spectacular views into the canyon, even though you know you're close. To see the canyon, you just have to take a road into it, and gradually it exposes itself to you.

    Note that there is access to the canyon from Clarkston/Lewiston via jet boat. Following the RA rally in Boise a few years ago, several of us overnighted in Clarkston and rode the "mail boat" upriver as far as power boats are allowed. It was very scenic, but an all day ride that I found exhausting. I think they go up the Snake something like 85 miles, not as far as the dam, but well into the canyon.

    pmdave
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  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmdave View Post
    Years ago, after the last MOA rally in Missoula, I spent a couple of days in the area, riding from Council NW to the edge of the canyon, and descending down the Kleinschmidt grade to the river. I was driving an airhead/Ural sidecar rig, but this is doable on a GS. The road between Council and the canyon is mostly gravel, but usually in good condition.
    dave - this is part of my planned route to the rally, with a few days camping in HC on the Oregon side.

    are you talking about the Council-Cuprum road above? is that as nice a ride as it looks?

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  5. #50
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    Yep, that's the road. Apparently, Cuprum was a mining town high up in the hills on the east side of Hells Canyon. The Kleinschmidt grade was a wagon road clinging to the edge of the canyon walls, and the road is still there. Cuprum, on the other hand, has shrunk to a few scattered buildings hiding in the trees, with crudely painted signs warning you not to tresspass. You would be wise to not ignore the warnings. I suspect that the residents of Cuprum are there to get away from civilization, and they don't smile at wandering visitors.

    The Council-Cuprum road is relatively good, about half gravel as I recall. As you get close to the edge of the canyon there is a fork, the right going to Cuprum, and I believe on to some other spectacular roads favored by quad riders. To the left is the Kleinschmidt Grade. On my dualsport sidecar rig I didn't find it to be especially challenging, but it is steep, with impressive dropoffs.

    At the bottom of the Kleinschmidt is a very nice grassy campground (BLM or something to do with the reservoir) with clean bathrooms. The campground is favored by the motorhome/quad/skiboat crowds, who come up from Boise for the weekend. No one camps on the ground, so there is unlimited space for your tent.

    Of course, you'll want to carry your own food and water with you.

    This is the Payette National Forest on the Idaho side, and Hells Canyon Wilderness Area on the Oregon side.

    There is a bridge at Copperfield just north of the Oxbow Dam. Copperfield has facilities including gas and food.

    On the Oregon side just opposite the bottom of the Kleinschmidt, there is a power line going uphill, and an access road. I learned about this from some quad riders. It's not on the map, but there is a dotted line showing the power line. I crossed to the west side of the canyon, fueled up at Copperfield, and rode north on the gravel road along the reservoir. Sure enough, there was the power line road. I had been warned that it was so steep the quad riders had to have someone sitting on the front hood to hold the wheels down. Sure enough, when I tried to stop to take a picture, the outfit started chugging backwards downhill under compression. I had to stop at the switchbacks, or find a rut to help hold the rig in place.

    The road was severely rutted in the center from the previous floods, but I could straddle the "ditch" with the outfit.

    The power line road eventually leveled out at the top and intersected what I think is the Wild River Road, then a junction with other roads leading to the Joeph-Imnaha road. As I recall the signs were relatively clear, but I would suggest running a GPS. There is a road north to Imnaha (I think FS 727) but at the time it was closed do to washouts. Instead, there were detours, including some new sections coated with "Alaska pea gravel" (fist-sized loose rocks)

    All in all, this was a memorable adventure, and I've always wanted to go back and do more exploring (with the sidecar rig) but I'm getting a little too creaky to make that happen. My advice: don't put these things off until you're too old and creaky to do them.

    Somewhere I have some photos, and I'll post a few when I stumble on them.

    pmdave

  6. #51
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    This is about halfway out of the canyon on the power line access road, where I found a reasonably level spot to park the rig.

    But where's the canyon, you're probably wondering. The canyon is actually just beyond those trees on the left, and drops down maybe another 1,500 - 2,000 ft. It's difficult to grasp that there is a canyon there, which explains how Chief Joseph was able to get a band of women, children, old men, and horses through here right under the noses of the US Army.

    Behind me, the road continues on up, eventually reaching the same elevation as those mountains in the background
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  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by OfficerImpersonator View Post
    I wonder if your "closed road" situation had anything to do with the "new bridge" we encountered on FS 25 when we did the trip at the end of last summer
    This new bridge?

    Washout.

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  8. #53
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    I'm getting a little confused. Being on an RT I tend to stay on paved roads or certainly hard packed roads for sure. Since I only get one shot through here on this trip the plan is to leave Enterprise and pick up what appears to be Nf 39 out of Joseph and then ride it through what I see as "Hell's Canyon recreation area" . From there it comes out to 86. At 86 I can either go west to Halfway and Baker City or go east to Oxford and pick up 71 to ride along the river. Either way I'll need to end up near Boise since I'm going to slab it from there all the way to Colorado.

    So here are the questions:

    Is nf39 paved? ( It hardly shows on Google maps)

    Is one way east or west on 86 better for good road and scenery? Right now the highlighted pink route is the plan so far.
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  9. #54
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    My old paper map shows the road from east of Joseph south to 86 as "39" and paved. 86 east from Baker City is paved, and 71 south is paved.

    Your proposed "pink" route takes you through some interesting country, but when you're riding through the trees the view doesn't change much.

    However, I wonder why you would ride close to Hells Canyon but not into it? The canyon is the most interesting part of this area. At least ride down to Copperfield and north along the reservoir to Hells Canyon Dam. And, given a choice between 86 back toward Baker City and the superslab on to Boise, or 71 south through Hells Canyon and on to Boise, I'd do the canyon, crossing to Idaho at Brownlee Dam.

    There are lots of unpaved forest roads in the area, but the reason for gravel sections on "paved" roads is storm damage. A flash flood can wipe out a bridge or fill a valley, requiring an unpaved detour to connect the dots. It's a lot like riding to Alaska.

    If the thought of riding an RT on gravel makes you sweat, my suggestion is to not mention to your RT that it isn't a GS, and keep plodding along.

    pmdave

  10. #55
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    Heck, I've come all that way so yes I want to see the best part of Hell's Canyon for sure. I just misunderstood thinking the whole attraction was the road going through the area.

    So now I'm heading through Oxbow and then 71 for sure. I see the bridge at Copperfield. Still trying to figure out where the dam is, but I see the road 454 going up to Kleinschimidt and will take it. Hope the east side road is the way to go.

    I'm ok on dirt roads, I was thinking more in terms of logs and large rocks. Glad we got this clarified. I was just going to breeze through the area not realizing what was there.

    If you've ever ridden to the north side of the Grand Canyon, you have no sense that there's a canyon even after you've made it to the parking lot so I can only imagine how this will work.

    I'm so grateful to be able to get the right insight for this trip. Thanks !

  11. #56
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    Please make a point of stopping for photos once in a while. I remember all those spectacular views, but I only managed to bring home a few photos.

    The Hells Canyon Dam is north a few miles, and I wish I had taken the time to ride up and back. It's a paved road right along the reservoir.

    The Kleinschmidt grade starts right across the road from the BLM campground.

    If you prefer to avoid the dirt, you can return south to the Oxbow, ride south on 71 to Brownlee Dam, and cross to Idaho. In any case I'd recommend riding north on 95, then south on 55--a very scenic ride.

    And, if you're headed east from there, consider riding through the Sawtooth Rec area on 21.

    If you haven't seen Craters of the Moon National Monument, that's just southeast.

    I suggest the mountain route because the superslab 84 across southern Idaho is IMHO boring, boring, boring. Not to mention hot and boring.

    pmdave

  12. #57
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    Just back from a recnon run to Hwy 25 (east side of Mt. St. Helens) in south west Washington. The road is gated closed and the pass is still snow bound.

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_M View Post
    Just back from a recnon run to Hwy 25 (east side of Mt. St. Helens) in south west Washington. The road is gated closed and the pass is still snow bound.
    Thanks for the update on FSR25....still planning on that for this summer, though probably not until August at the earliest...! Kind of an "unusual" weather year here in the great Everwet State.

    Cheers! Bill J

  14. #59
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmdave View Post

    In any case I'd recommend riding north on 95, then south on 55--a very scenic ride.

    And, if you're headed east from there, consider riding through the Sawtooth Rec area on 21.

    If you haven't seen Craters of the Moon National Monument, that's just southeast.

    I suggest the mountain route because the superslab 84 across southern Idaho is IMHO boring, boring, boring. Not to mention hot and boring.

    pmdave
    You forgot to mention really really boring.

    The year before last, after coming from Glacier and Koocanusa lake in Montana, we rode Lolo Pass and picked up 95 over to McCall Lake. We then headed south and picked up 24 east through Garden Valley to Loman on 21. From there we rode to Stanley, spent the night in Ketchem, and then cut across 20 to Blackfoot. Don't have to convince me.

    The reason for the slab was a friend invited me to stay at his place in Aspen on the way home. I was figuring I could bypass some of the roads I've ridden and try to get over to Provo. From there it improves at least.

    Taking pictures is one of the main goals for sure and I always say the best photos are the ones you saw, but didn't have time to stop and get the camera out. It's one of the reasons I ride with a jacket that has chest pockets to easily get to my camera. At a club breakfast a month ago I spotted a guy who carried his camera hanging from a lanyard around his neck. Might be worth exploring to get off quick pics and still make time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_M View Post
    Just back from a recnon run to Hwy 25 (east side of Mt. St. Helens) in south west Washington. The road is gated closed and the pass is still snow bound.
    Thanks. Hopefully it's open by the second week in July.

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTRandy View Post
    I'm getting a little confused. Being on an RT I tend to stay on paved roads or certainly hard packed roads for sure. Since I only get one shot through here on this trip the plan is to leave Enterprise and pick up what appears to be Nf 39 out of Joseph and then ride it through what I see as "Hell's Canyon recreation area" . From there it comes out to 86. At 86 I can either go west to Halfway and Baker City or go east to Oxford and pick up 71 to ride along the river. Either way I'll need to end up near Boise since I'm going to slab it from there all the way to Colorado.

    So here are the questions:

    Is nf39 paved? ( It hardly shows on Google maps)

    Is one way east or west on 86 better for good road and scenery? Right now the highlighted pink route is the plan so far.
    I just returned from a weekend in Enterprise.

    We camped at the Log House Campground www.loghouservpark.com. The hosts, Brian and Margaret are both riders and extremely hospitable. This would make a great layover point for anyone riding to the National through Lewiston. There is a ton of DS riding around Enterprise. As someone said around the campfire, "You can't make a wrong turn".

    Regarding Wallowa Mtn. Loop (nfs39). It is closed this season. I heard that there is a bypass, Hess Rd.. I don't think Hess is paved. All three times I've been there to ride it, it has been closed.
    Ron R

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