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One of the longest rail-trails in the country, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail stretches 109.9 miles through south-central Oregon. The route comprises two rail lines that once supported the region's timber industry: the former Oregon, California & Eastern Railway, also known as the Klamath Falls Municipal Railway, which extended from Klamath Falls to Bly (now the main line of the trail), and the old Weyerhaeuser Woods Line, which connected to the OC&E at Beatty and ran to a point just north of Sycan Marsh. The Southern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads managed the OC&E from the mid-1920s to 1975, at which time Weyerhaeuser took over operations for the line. The rail line saw its decline in the 1980s; in 1992, the line was railbanked and handed over to Oregon Parks and Recreation.
A good place to begin your journey is the OC&E Woods Line State Trail's western terminus in Klamath Falls, the largest community along the route. From here, you'll travel an 8-mile paved section that passes through residential neighborhoods and open countryside to Olene (be sure to close any gates through which you pass). This part of the route offers beautiful views of Mount Shasta, Poe Valley, and Lost River. The remainder of the trail is unpaved, with surfaces varying from hard-packed to sandy, to rocky, to ranchland, and hilly; this part of the path is well suited for wide-tired bicycles, cross-country skis, and horses. From Olene, the trail heads northeast through quiet pastoral lands with views of mountains in the distance, reaching Beatty after about 40 miles.
Before reaching Dairy, you'll pass through Swede's Cut (at 13.5 miles) and Pine Flat. The trail then heads around Bly Mountain via Switchback Hill—a delightfully scenic backcountry section—and then drops down into the fertile Sprague River Valley. The double switchback—which allowed trains to be split so they could manage the grade—was reportedly the last operating switchback of its kind in the United States.
Note: Water is not available on the trail; you can find convenience stores in Olene, Dairy, Sprague River, Beatty, and Bly. Keep in mind that Dairy (at mile 18) is your last opportunity to buy food or water until you reach Sprague River at mile 35. You’ll find cafés in Dairy, Sprague River, Beatty, and Bly.
The Woods Line splits north at Beatty, passing through rocky terrain and the nice backcountry of Fremont National Forest to Sycan Marsh (a great place for bird-watching), where you'll find the northern trailhead. The trail then extends to its endpoint at Thompson Reservoir, where camping and boating are available, as well as access to water and restrooms. The main line continues to the quiet town of Bly (east).
For trout fishing, try Five Mile Creek at Woods Line mile 10. At Woods Line mile 27, you'll come across the Merritt Creek Trestle, which measures 400 feet long and 50 feet high.
Use maps for backcountry sections; signage may not be clear in certain areas. During decent snow years, certain sections offer good cross-country skiing through beautiful forests.
To reach the Klamath Falls trailhead from Interstate 5, take Exit 747/Weed, and follow US 97 north for 70.4 miles to State Route 140/SR 66. Or, take Exit 14/Ashland, and follow SR 66 for 57.9 miles to Klamath Falls. Continue straight (east) onto SR 140 (Klamath Falls–Lakeview Highway) for 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Altamont Drive, and go 2.2 miles. Turn left onto Crosby Avenue, and look for parking on the right.
Parking is also available at Wiard Park, which has restrooms (they may be locked though). From the intersection of SR 66/SR 140 and US 97, take SR 140 east for 4.7 miles, and turn left onto Homedale Road. After 1.5 miles, turn left onto Walton Drive, and then take a right onto Wiard Street after 0.3 mile. Wiard Park is on the left.
From the intersection of SR 66/SR 140 and US 97, take SR 140 east for 6 miles, and turn left onto SR 140/SR 39. The trail crosses the road at 1.4 miles.
To reach the eastern trailhead in Bly from the intersection of SR 66/SR 140 and US 97, follow SR 140 east 55.9 miles (including a short stint on SR 140/SR 39 north) to Bly. Turn right onto SR 140 From US 395 in Lakeview, take SR 140 west for 42.4 miles, and turn left onto Edler Street. After 1.4 miles, turn left onto Gerber Ranch Road. After 0.5 mile, turn left onto a dirt road. The trailhead is 0.8 mile ahead.
Other trailheads include Pine Grove, which has restrooms; Switchback, within Fremont National Forest, which offers restrooms and camping; Sycan Siding; and Horse Glade, which also has restrooms.
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