Mountain Biking Along the Deschutes River

So, I’ve recently discovered that my new favorite past-time is mountain biking! Joe and I decided to dust off the old bikes and head up to Harris Park a couple of weeks ago and we had such a blast! I was instantly hooked!

Don’t get me wrong, we love to cruise around on our road bikes because it’s a great way to find some peace and quiet, while getting moderate exercise… but there’s definitely more of an adrenaline rush when it comes to mountain biking and it really puts your physical strength and endurance to the test.

Now I see why Joe is so addicted to skateboarding. I haven’t had a REAL adrenaline rush in a long time, and I realized that this is something I was missing in my life.  There’s nothing like flying down a narrow trail, dodging large rocks and mud puddles, or ducking under tree branches to help make you feel alive again.

I was determined to bust out the mountain bikes again the following week and downloaded the app: TrailLink. I searched for the nearest mountain biking trail and came across the Deschutes River Railbed. TrailLink had a full description of the area, as well as photos of abandoned houses and wagons, so it seemed promising.

As soon as you pull into the parking area, you see this old, abandoned wagon (pictured above), surrounded by beautiful mint green sagebrush and purple wildflowers. Boy, were we excited for what lies ahead!

This trail is definitely a desert gem… Just look at the beautiful plants we encountered! So interesting!

The dirt path is wide enough for vehicles (So no need to worry about passing hikers) and follows the Deschutes River the entire way. Most of the trail is high above the river, giving you a great overlook of the scenery.

TrailLink advised to not go off the path because of the amount of rattlesnakes that like to hide out in the tall grasses.. And they were absolutely right!

It was excruciatingly hot that day and we were desperate to hop in the river to cool off. We found a smaller trail leading toward the water and almost immediately had to turn around because we encountered one of the frightening creatures! The snake was disguised in the grass next to the trail and Joe biked right past it. I grew up catching snakes, but I had never encountered one of these bad boys.

The snake coiled up, tried to strike at Joe as he passed by, and unleashed the dreadful rattling sound. Holy crap. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened in my life! The snake was between us and as we backed away, he slithered across the trail, giving us a great look at how beautiful (yet deadly) Mother Nature can be.

After saying F*** that and finding another trail down to the river, we were able to finally cool off. Our clothes were drenched in sweat at this point, so we had no choice but to take them off and go for a little skinny dip! If you like to be naked just as much as I do, then you’re in luck because there were hardly any people around. We ran into 3 other humans the entire time we were there.

The water felt great, by the way!

This abandoned rail car sits right off to the side of the trail a few miles in. It made for some pretty cool pictures and is home to cute, Spiny Lizards. Just as I was posing for a picture, Joe noticed another rattlesnake coiled up near a rock directly under the rail car doorway! Ahh!!

This is actually where we turned around because it was so hot that we almost felt miserable. Plus, we were running low on our water supply, so we had to head back just to be safe. We plan on returning as soon as the weather cools off a bit because I’ve heard that there’s a lot more for us to see, like abandoned farm houses and old locomotive water towers! We will definitely have to make another visit!

If you’re planning a trip to this trail, make sure to bring a snake bite kit and familiarize yourself with different species, in case you need to inform paramedics of which anti-venom you need. Running through these snake bite first aid procedures with your trail buddy beforehand is also a good idea, so that you both know what to do in such a life-threatening situation.

Also, make sure to pack lots of water, as there is practically NO shade along the trail.

Here’s a short video edit Joe made from our trip:

Have fun and be safe out there!