Total Immersion in the Wilderness of Northeast Oregon

A deep dive into the best trails, rivers, and lakes of Northeast Oregon.

Mountain Biking, Gravel Biking, Hiking, Sailing Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

VIEW ON MAP
Umatilla Rim Loop
Photo: Greg Heil

Description

There’s no one right way to travel: travel can and should look incredibly different from person to person, and from one season of life to the next. The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a season of life that has dramatically impacted how and where we travel.

After my three-month Total Immersion tour through three different European countries, which you may have read about here on FATMAP, I temporarily re-integrated back into life in Colorado. And even with a global pandemic raging, I realized that I wasn’t ready to sit in one place for too long. I wanted to continue traveling, but slowly… and health-consciously.

A delightful series of unplanned events led me to spend a month and a half living, working, and exploring in northeast Oregon. Since Oregon is filled with epic mountain towns such as Bend, Hood River, Oakridge, and more, I had spent a respectable amount of time in Oregon before… but never in the northeastern corner.

But Northeast Oregon is entirely different from the better-known destinations further to the west. This region is a wild and sparsely-populated area of the nation, with mountains ranging from rolling hills to jagged, rocky peaks. The area is dominated by the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains, but unfortunately for mountain bikers, most of the Wallowas are protected by the expansive Eagle Cap Wilderness—the largest wilderness area in Oregon. While mountain bikes may be banned, the Wilderness Area does make for great hiking and peak climbing! And aside from some small swathes of wilderness, the Blue Mountains are largely open to mountain biking.

Northeast Oregon is possibly best-known for its impressive web of wild and scenic rivers—most notably, the Grande Ronde. This region is also home to some beautiful lakes, including the idyllic Wallowa Lake framed by the soaring peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

During my time in the area, I did my best to explore as much as I possibly could… but this wild and untamed landscape is home to a lifetime of adventures. In this guidebook, I’ve shared an array of my favorite adventures from my Total Immersion into the landscape of Northeast Oregon. Read on and learn about the best mountain bike rides in MERA, to exploring the Umatilla Rim Trail, to hiking deep into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, pedaling endless gravel roads in the expansive national forests, and exploring both lakes and rivers on my standup paddleboard. This guidebook can easily help you plan an epic multi-sport itinerary to rival the most popular mountain destinations in North America... with a fraction of the crowds!

Routes included

Related guidebooks