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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.
We scouted this trail on a trip through the west when we had already gone a few days without getting on the bikes, and had a few more non-riding days ahead. The Pine Grove trailhead was convenient and had full facilities. Riding east from there to the end of the pavement showed us that we would not be going further; the gravel is too rough for my road bike with the widest tires that will fit, or my wife's hybrid with slick tires on it.
The 7.5 mile paved trail was in excellent condition, wide and flat. There was a nice mix of pedestrians and bicycles out on a weekday afternoon. The number of street crossings increases as you go deeper into Klamath Falls, but this being Oregon drivers are very accommodating. We passed Wiard Park which would also be a good place to start a ride, and the official trailhead in the city, which is actually a bit west of Crosby Av- the directions I found indicated it was adjacent. There was also another trail which crossed ours; I now know that it follows the bank of an irrigation channel for 4 miles, making possible a 23 mile round-trip on the two paved trails.
The paved section ends suddenly in the middle of a railyard. Too bad, as it would have been nice to ride further alongside the rails and end at a more dramatic spot, or at least a more logical one.
We admired an abandoned shoe next to the trail (who loses just one shoe?), watched a man picking up cans and bottles (single shoes not having much cash value, he left that behind) and rode back to the trailhead. Not an epic trek, but still a nice ride on a nice day in an area without any rural paved or packed stone trails to choose from.
Very windy ride coming back. Beautiful farm country. Not too crowded.
August 2014. Having completed the new roof on my house, my buddies and I decided to push our old disgusting bodies through the cinders at the northern extent of the OC&E Woods Line trail.
Our literature for some reason indicated that we should start our journey at something called "500 Transfer". Basically this is a siding where a few spur lines merge before they would have began the descent to Klamath Falls.
We camped at Horse Glade the first night and got an early start. It is a twenty five mile drive up the hill to the top end of the Sycan Marsh. Just north of our parking spot is the true start of the Great Basin in Oregon. Sycan is a remote and haunting landscape that is protected by the Nature Conservancy. I hope this is always true. It is exquisite. It is worth driving through just to look at it.
From 500 Transfer we began our downhill roll until we hit a meaningful fence at the north end of the marsh. Bad news. We should have known to ride the road (FR27)from that point. Evidently a trestle that used to cross the marsh was removed, and accordingly the hatched lines on the gazetteer also were removed between my 1991 copy and the new copy I bought after this trip.
We had seen a spur line about 3/4 of a mile back
so we came about--figuring that the trail had been rerouted around the marsh. It turns out that we couldn't have been more wrong. Climbing close to 13 miles in loose but decent cinder we finally reached a BPA power substation and the trail became increasingly more like a jeep road than a rails to trails type trail. No more cinders...no more evidence of a railroad (spikes etc). We bushwhacked up to a gravel road that got us down to FR28. By this point my 14 year old beagle was done for the day. My buddies decided to ride down the hill to get my van back at camp.
It turns out we were entirely upside down in our guess of whether it was further to get back to the car we parked at 500 Transfer or to get back to the camp. Data did not work, nor did the phone. Text was working for some reason so we were able to communicate.
I sat with my poor dog on the side of the road for almost 5 hours before a single person who wasn't on a motorcycle came through. A very sweet couple with a flatbed Ford.
Take it Easy...
They were kind enough to give me a ride back to the car at 500 Transfer. 26 miles by road. By now my buddies had ridden an additional 40, and were being picked up by a wonderful wife who drove out from Klamath Falls once they were able to get a mobile signal.
I found the "hide a key" under Ed's car and drove the tired beagle back down the hill to Horse Glade. Dinner ensued and we all slept well.
For the errors and bad research, we still got a good ride in. I'd actually do it again, but with intention and a GPS, and plan to cut over to Winter Rim. We were only 7 miles from Winter Rim when we realized we were no where near our target destination. From Winter Rim you can descend to Summer Lake Hot Springs for a bit of spa.
Not to be defeated we got up early and rode from the south end of Sycan Marsh back to Horse Glade (about 11 miles). The trail was a standard mix of cinder with delightful compacted sections and other various laboring grind with weeds and agonizing cow destroyed nasty. Still, it is better than fighting traffic.
The trestle was cool, but the creek wasn't flowing. We saw four large Bucks running under the power lines.
After the ride I drove out to the north to retrieve a trailer we abandoned at 500 Transfer, then continued north past Thompson reservoir--almost empty. Drought. Yikes! From there I slid up through Silver Lake and West to 97 then South to my little hamlet of Klamath Falls.
Feeling sad the whole time. I always get a bit emotional in the Great Basin.
Last ride of the summer always makes me shed a tear.
I hope I get a couple in this summer. I'd like to knock out another section before I'm another year older. Perhaps my now 15 year old beagle will join me as long as I promise not to get us lost.
We were staying at Running Y Ranch and spent one day in Crater Lake and one day riding the OC & E Trail. It was a nice quick 16 miles round trip and we had a nice lunch at Nibbley's Cafe afterwards.
I live right across the street from the trail, and use it a lot, both bicycle and walking. The last couple of years the cracks have gotten larger and rougher, to the point that I have broken several spokes on the larger(up to 6" wide cracks). This spring I started bicycle commuting to work but would ride the majority on the streets( even though the trail went a shorter distance to work) because of the rough ride. Then this year in august the ranger for the OC&E asked for volunteers to help repair the trail. I showed up on both friday and saturday along with about a dozen other volunteers we patched over 200 cracks and used almost two pallets of asphalt patch. The trail is not perfect, but I'm not afraid of breaking my bike either. The ranger (Shawn I think) was very nice and is planning more upgrades next year, so don't be afraid to give it a try. All the really bad cracks are filled so get out and enjoy the trail!!!
We spent a night in Klamath Falls and thought it would be nice to take our recumbents on the path to olene and back. Wrong. Didn't make it as far as olene because we couldn't stand the jarring bumps from the ruts in the trail every 10 to 50 feet
I enjoy the trail but believe it needs improvement.
1. Benches every 1 miles, older people that use the trail need support in someway.
2. Outdoor fitness equipment made of wood, most city parks have them. People that run and exercise use these to stretch.
3. A parking area. People that want to access the trail? Where do they park? On the edge of Wiard? Down at Hwy 39 is there another area?
4. Need access for handicapped carts - that want to utilize the Trail.
5. Need steps in areas of mud on the side of the hill where most used. Someone needs to do a walk through on trail ask questions.
It's a nice Trail but not for elderly,and handicapped -
Needs improvement on sides of Trail. Fresh mulch or pebble rocks for runners.
Lets have a can do attitude, it can always be better.
I have ridden paved sections of the OC&E numerous times. It is my intention as I become a stronger rider to complete this trail in it's entirety...most likely not all at once. That type of detail does not matter to me
The (roughly) downtown Klamath Falls to Olene section of OC&E is a nice jaunt through flat land in this beautiful county. On the lovely days, which number about 300 per year, the acceptable days (about 40), and the nasty (the rest of em), the trail remains ride-able.
The short paved part of this trail is special to me because I am always curious of "marginal" details. This trail essentially begins in a train yard and rolls through hobo-industrial to gentrified retail. Each road crossing brings another element of our society. Our locality.
I typically start my ride or rollerblade at Wiard Park. It is roughly a 1 hour round trip to the Olene store for me on rollerblades, and a bit less on the bike.
From Wiard park the trail leaves the suburban sprawl of our fair city and becomes everything a bicyclist could desire in a trail. Mountain views, open agriculture...stinky cow poop. All of it. I love it.
Olene is a dangerous set of corners for road riders. On OC&E the crossing is safe. One can also stay safely off the road to obtain a snack and a seat in the shade at the Olene store.
If you sit and have an ice cream at the store your view is a beautiful "plow engine" that used to keep the tracks of this line relatively snow free. It used to snow enough that even this impressive plow had trouble getting through. Hmmm.
As the daylight gets longer with each passing day this dry winter I look forward to riding or skiing the hard fought sections east of my experience. OC&E is a treasure of south central Oregon.
Completely under-utilized in my opinion
First off, to all the bikers who complain about this trail not being paved, I suggest you stick to the portion of the trail west of Olene, which IS paved. Please bear in mind that those of us who ride horses LOVE the fact that there is a stretch of trail that is not paved, as riding on asphalt is terribly bad for horses' hooves and legs. The portion of the trail that stretches from Egert to Switchback and on to Sprague River is a great favorite of ours - beautiful scenery, an easy ride, and even a water hole partway down from the Switchback trailhead. And yes, there are cows, but we don't mind a little cow poo on the trail. ;) I would highly recommend the Switchback or Egert trailheads for anyone who wants to get out and enjoy nature from the back of a horse.
This was a tough ride over poorly compacted gravel, rock, and cinder. From Road 3207 to the Trestle is about 3 miles, but a rigorous ride. I was pelted by tiny cinder chunks throughout. The trail passes out of the forest after about 1.5 miles and runs along the edges of private land until reaching the Trestle, just after the power lines. Along the way see a couple of interesting characters living in run-down trailers surrounded by mini-junk yards. I was most appreciate of the mile markers every .5 miles encouraging me to continue pushing through the gravel/crushed cinders. The trestle was impressive and worth the ride.
This trail is well maintained and passes through lovely Southern Oregon mixed agriculture and forest land. Miles 23.5 through about 29 pass through agricultural fields carved out of the forest on the north side and forested hills on the south side. Lots of birds and small critters to see and on this weekend in May, I was the only one using this section of the trail - a real sense of peaceful isolation. However, the gravel bed is thick and not well compacted. It was slow going for the first seven miles - and a gradual uphill climb. After the trail passes into the forest about mile 29, the trail is a bit rougher, but less gravel made for better speed. I climbed the gentle grade to the top of switchback hill (about mile 34) in less than an hour.
A couple of creature encounters: While passing through a gated portion of the trail through a lovely little marshland (visable from the parking lot at Switchback trailhead) I ran into a large long-horned steer with a small herd of cows and calves. He blocked my passage with all the cows behind him. I danced and shouted for awhile until they cleared the trail. Afterward, coming down the hill from switchback at 15 or 20 mph, I inadvertantly ran over a very large rattle snake stretched completely across the trail in the warm sunlight.
This was a workout due to the friction from the thick gravel, but well worth the isolation and beautiful scenary.
We road this trail in mid-September 2009, camping along the way on public land near the trail, using Giant Sedona bikes with the O. E Kenda tires. We were very glad to escape a puncture on the rough cinder or sharp crushed rock which makes up most of the trail length. We used the well-equipped Sprague River store for resupply (no bike parts though).
This trail can be rated either as a high adventure or a nightmare, depending on your tolerance for a rough surface, minimal improvement, and extensive cow damage. We enjoyed it from Klamath Falls to its bitter end at a locked Nature Conservancy gate entering Sycan Marsh. We had to walk the last few miles as it was impossible to ride, even walking on the loose cinders was a chore.
After the paved few miles near Klamath Falls some sections have been improved with a smaller compacted gravel. It was not clear to us why some segments were improved and some not. Cattle and horses dig up the new surface however and it would probably take re-rolling every year to maintain it. This would be a fantastic, national-quality trail if it was paved.
Some segments of the trail in the Sprague River valley go thorugh what are essentially cattle feed lots and the rolling surface there is awful and manure covered. Some segments are driven on by ranch workers and are somewhat compacted by that activity. Some segments are driven on by quads and other recreationists in the national forest.
Amazing that a "state park" would be in such hideous shape. Funding and staffing are badly needed.
This is a rugged trail. The miles are not technical, but the trail surface in most places is a challenge because of the rolling friction from the rock bed. Last September 2008, we went to Oregon to ride parts of the OC & E trail. We camped at Horse Glade Campground. Nice Campground, quiet. The first day we pedalled to Sycan Marsh. The first mile was so rough, I almost gave up. But after a while I got used to pedalling with a lot of rolling friction and constant rock movement. The train trestle was awesome, and the edge of the Marsh was nice to see. The next day, we pedaled towards Beatty. One of the ranches we passed through had two people removing drift fences along the trail. The ranch was using the road surface for their trucks. At least their truck made an slightly easier surface to pedal. Nice country to pedal through. When we got to the flat near Beauty, we turned around. The flat areas were overgrown with bushes and grass. Next we camped in Klammath Falls. The paved trail out of Klammath Falls is nice. A mile after the pavement ends, the trail became difficult to ride. It looks like dirt is being brought in to make a better surface. Next day we started at Switchbacks Trailheads. First we went towards Sprague River, Nice trail on the hill. About a mile from Sprague River, the tail was reasonably over grown. Once on the flat after Sprague River the trail was okay, but lots of rolling friction. We pedaled the other way, past Switchback Trail head towards Dairy. The trail was great down the hill. Very nice. But this only lasted a couple of miles, then back to the major rolling friction from loose gravel. Beautiful scenery. Quiet trail. Good to go once. I would go again of the trail surface is improved.
We started at Switchback Mountain near mile marker 33 and headed Northeast. We really enjoyed the trail until mile marker 49. The cattle fences aren't being maintained near Beatty. We couldn't get through the large number of cows and bulls and were forced to back track and camp on the trail. These large animals are really intimidating for younger explorers and those without experience with cattle. A single rider could possibly get through but not families. We had to turn back and our four day excursion ended on day two with great dissapointment. This trail does not work without the cooperation of the cattle ranchers and they spend all their time just trying to get by.
"August 2, 2005: We went across the street from the Best Western and joined the trail just before the 1898 trestle. It is a straight, paved trail to Olene without any break from the sun. We did it in the afternoon so it wasn’t too bad. However the trail from then on was gravel & loose stone, more than we wanted to tackle with our street bikes. Very nice, scenic trail."
"The best by far! Something for everyone. The trail near the Sycan Marsh Preserve is special. Kinda' out of the way.
One hint for lodging (the best way to experience the area is to stay there): there are no hotels for miles so contact both the Paisley and Beatty/Bly Forest Stations for info that allows you to rent one of their historic cabins and/or fire look-out towers. It's only about $30 a night and comes with plenty of amenities. Definitely check into this, it's worth it!"
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