Central Oregon Backcountry

Bikepack an adventurous 152-mile loop with 11,590 feet of elevation gain through the central Oregon's Ochoco Mountains, the John Day River Basin, and the Painted Hills. This 40% paved/60% unpaved route, starts in Prineville and travels through Ponderosa Pine forests and high arid desert, with a pitstop for resupply in Michell.

Getting There

From I-5 in Vancouver, WA exit onto I-205 and follow signs for Salem/NE 134th St. After crossing the Colombia River, follow signs for I-84 E/US-30 The Dalles. Take Exit 16 for 238th Dr. toward Wood Village and follow signs for US-26 E to NE Knowledge St in Prineville. Drive US-26 134 miles to Prineville, OR. Cars can be parked overnight at the Prineville Crook County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center parking lot provided you let them know how long your cars will be there. 

On The Trail

The route begins from the visitor center and travels in a clockwise loop traversing north/northeast over the Ochoco Mountains, heads east through the John Day River Basin, and travels southeast passing by the Painted Hills and on to the town of Michell, OR before circling back around southwest to Prineville.

Camping and Water

Filtered water is available throughout the route thanks to the many creeks, springs, and the John Day River along the way. Numerous camping options are available in the Ochoco National Forest and in the John Day River Basin. There are sections of the route that pass through private ranch land, especially the sections of the route heading southeast along the Painted Hills and southwest out of Michell—be mindful not to camp on private ranch land. Camping is available in the town of Michell, or riders can stay at the Spoke’n Hostel in town.

Land Manager


  • This route is for experienced bikepackers with excellent physical conditioning. At a minimum, participants should have completed a number of prior bikepacking trips and be accustomed to long climbs with a weighted bike.
  • This trip is notorious for “goat head thorns.” Bikes should have a tubeless setup and wide tires (50mm or 2-inch minimum) to mitigate flat tires.
  • Multiple stream crossings and the possibility of “peanut butter mud” after rain make this route an adventurous undertaking.

  • Suitable Activities: Bikepacking
  • Seasons: April, May, June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Bikepacking Gravel II, Bikepacking Gravel III
  • Length: 152.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 11,590 ft
  • 6,521 ft
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: see "Getting There" section (above)
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
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