The Oregon Outback may well be the state's most hallowed bikepacking route. (Bikepacking, for those unfamiliar, is a magical fusion of bike touring and backpacking.) Stretching 364 miles from Klamath Falls to just east of The Dalles, it runs the length of the state via little-traveled roads—about 75 percent gravel and dirt—and clocks more than 14,000 feet of climbing in the process. Standard practice is to take Amtrak to Klamath Falls and then ride north, through sagebrush-filled high desert (optional stop for 30-ounce steaks at the Cowboy Dinner Tree; scroll down for more info), past the volcanic monolith that is Fort Rock, along the scenic Crooked River, through the Ochoco Mountains, and into the ghost town of Shaniko, before ending at the confluence of the Deschutes and the Columbia.
In mid-May, I set off on the Outback with three friends. And damn, did it deliver: miles and miles of sagebrush- and juniper-scented riding, high-desert vistas, all variety of bumpy terrain, soaring bald eagles, bounding pronghorn antelope, beer stops at small-town convenience stores, one particularly epic deluge along the Crooked River, several shoes-off stream crossings, supersized cinnamon rolls, spooky abandoned buildings, and even surprise ice cream from a ghost-town refrigerator. (And, on the Sprague River, the worst mosquitoes any of us had experienced in our lives.)
Scroll through the slide show above for peek into our six-day voyage.