This little narrow gauge railway is far from anyplace, but is well worth the trip just to see what a group of mostly volunteers can accomplish. The railroad is a partial recreation of one of the last narrow gauge lines to operate in the United States.
For pictures and much more information, see my article, Riding the Sumpter Valley.
The loop that goes from Baker City to Sumpter then Anthony Lakes and back to Baker City is another great road for riding. The scenery is great, the road follows one river or another for most of its course.
The road at Anthony Lakes was still closed with snow when we were there in May 2006 so we only rode as far as Sumpter and back to Baker City. The Sumpter gold mining dredge is very interesting to see. It has been restored quite well. They still have a ways to go before its finished, but they have made some great progress on the restoration. You can walk right into the dredge. As well, there are volunteers there who can answer questions for you on how the dredge worked.
We only have one picture of the dredge. Hubby was snapping pictures like crazy and discovered when we got back to Baker City that the memory stick was full and he only actually got one picture! (He even accused me of deleting the pictures!) Fortunately the one picture he did get turned out well.
The road through the Canyon will take you from Baker City, to Joseph and then to Enterprise. You can then either do the ride in reverse or continue on to La Grande and head back south to Baker City. All secondary roads are great - minimum traffic and lots of curves. You will feel like the road was built for you and your bike.
Stop at Scotty's for gas (last chance for gas!) and a rest break before continuing north to Joseph. There is also a little bar here (Hells Canyon Inn) that serves up cold beer and great burgers.
I would highly recommend Annie's Restaurant in Richland for breakfast or lunch. The food and service are good and the company is great. We spent 2 hours here chatting with the locals.
I really can't say enough positive things about this trip. The scenery in the canyon is absolutely stunning and everywhere we went we met such friendly people. Everyone in the area was quite happy to have us here and went out of their way to welcome the riders.
During eight decades in the 1800's the Oregon Trail served as a natural corridor as the United States moved from the eastern half of the continent towards the west coast. The Oregon Trail ran approximately 2,000 miles west from Missouri towards the Rocky Mountains to the Willamette Valley. A trail to California branched off in southern Idaho. The Mormon Trail paralleled much of the Oregon Trail, connecting Council Bluffs to Salt Lake City.It began as an unconnected series of trails used by Native Americans. Fur Traders expanded the route to transport pelts to trading posts and rendezvous. In the 1830's missionaries followed the still faint trail along the Platte river and the Snake, to establish church connections in the Northwest. A combination of economic and political events in the 1840's converged to start a large scale migration west on what was then known as 'The Oregon Road'. Joel Walker is credited as the first settler to make the complete trip with a family, in 1840. Large scale migration started in 1843, when a wagon train of over 800 people with 120 wagons and 5,000 cattle made the five month journey. In 1847 Mormons escaping persecution headed towards Salt Lake, and the discovery of gold in California in 1848 sent a wave of fortune seekers west. Military posts, trading posts, shortcuts and spur roads sprang off the Oregon Trail over the next three decades. The Central Pacific Railroad connected California to the continent in 1869, and the Oregon Shortline finished a railroad from Portland, Oregon to the Union Pacific railroad in Wyoming in 1884. Wagon trains gave way to modern transportation. The trail became a route for eastward cattle drives, but by the twentieth century, the Oregon Trail was considered part of a historic past, and the image of covered wagons and heroic pioneers had become an American icon.
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Opened in 1992, the interpretive center on the crest of Flagstaff Hill, draws 80,000 to 350,000 visitors a year. Re-creations and interactive displays bring the trail to life. Figures of men, women and children are shown doing everyday chores along the trail. Every detail is perfectly and authentically reproduced, right down to the flies on the oxen's backs and the dirt-streaked clothing of the pioneers. Recorded voices tell the stories using passages from pioneers' journals.