Deschutes River State Recreation Area

A recreation area 100 miles east of Portland, Oregon with over 25 miles of relatively level trails. Hike, backpack, or bikepack next to the Deschutes River on the Atiyeh Trail or above it on the Old Railbed Trail. Enjoy views of the eastern side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Getting there

Take Exit 97 off of I-84 and drive east on OR-206 (Biggs-Rufus Hwy, Fulton Canyon Rd) for 3 miles. Turn right into the Deschutes River State Recreation Area (200 ft).

on the trail

Atiyeh Deschutes River trail

This trail is at river level and starts near the campground. It is labelled Backberry Trail on most maps. The route has multiple narrow sections, steep sections, and high grasses are prevalent. This trail merges into the Old Railbed Trail in 3.2 miles.

Old Railbed Trail

This trail travels an old rail line and rises a few hundred feet above the river providing broad views of the river valley. It is labelled Deschutes River Trail on most maps. This trail is 20+ miles one-way, is relatively wide and flat, and serves hikers, backpackers, bikers, and horses.

other options

There is a "middle" trail between the Atiyeh and Old Railbed Trails, named Riverview Trail on most maps, and the Ferry Spring Trail that travels toward the canyon rim and over Ferry Springs Creek. All four of the trails can be combined to make a nice loop hike. The combination of the Ferry Springs and Riverview Trails is called the "Upper River Ferry Springs Loop" by the recreation area.

Suggested Bikepacking Route

39 miles round trip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain

Start at Deschutes River State Recreation Area. There is a fee for overnight parking, and you can camp there the night before—be sure to make reservation with the land manager. The  railroad bed trail is in great condition from the beginning at Deschutes River State Recreation Area to Mile 19. It is  mostly on smooth double track trail with only a couple of wet crossings and a few rough sections of coarse gravel which are easy to ride by experienced riders or, if not, hike-a-bike. At Mile 19 by the Snake in the Box river campsite, the trail first turns into a narrow  single-track surrounded by big boulders then into an exposed single-track section with steep drop offs.

While it is possible to travel all the way to  the Mack Canyon BLM campground at Mile 24 on foot, the converted rail bed ends at Mile 19. This is where a former collapsed train trestle turns the double track first to single and then dead-ends in a 80 feet deep drop. It is passable by foot on a boot path/Class 2 scramble but is not recommended with loaded bikes that must be carried. Turn around where the hike-a-bike section begins and camp at one of the primitive sites encountered on the way upriver. Best campsites for a group are at Mile 6 and 8 but a short hike-a-bike provides access to many boat
campsites by the river

land manager

notes

  • Watch for rattlesnakes and check for ticks.
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Bikepacking, Day Hiking
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: *Varies*
  • Length: 7.5 mi
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
Map
  • Green Trails Columbia River Gorge East No. 432S
  • BLM Prineville District: Lower Deschutes and John Day Rivers
  • see Land Manager
Activities

Upcoming Activities

Backpack - Deschutes River Trail

Backpacking Trip
An out and back early spring trip up the old railroad grade along the Deschutes
Difficulty: Moderate
Sat, Mar 5, 2022 - Sun, Mar 6, 2022
No Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
6 participants 0 leaders
Registration opens Feb 1
Foothills Branch
Trip Reports
Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Deschutes River Trail
  • Atiyeh Deschutes River Trail
  • Old Railbed Trail
  • Deschutes River Loop
  • Atiyeh-Old Railbed Loop
  • Upper River Ferry Springs Loop
Resources
Name/Description
Deschutes River State Recreation Area GPS Bikepacking Route

A GPX file of the bikepacking route in the Deschutes River State Recreation Area created in Gaia GPS by Brian Starlin, May 2021.

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