The Oregon, California and Eastern Railroad bed was converted to the OC&E Woods Line State Trail starting in the early 1990’s and is a 109-mile rail trail that runs from Klamath Falls to Bly, Oregon with an extension to Sycan Marsh. Along the way, it passes through small rural communities, ranch and farmland country and national forest land. There are numerous access points along the trail to choose from depending on where you want to bike. On our first trip to the rail trail we parked at the Pine Grove Trailhead just east of Klamath Falls and biked to a point just before the Dairy Y Trailhead for a round-trip total of over 12 miles. The section from Klamath Falls to the town of Olene is paved. The rest of the trail is packed gravel and in relatively good condition.
Pine Grove Trailhead
On another day, we decided to visit a section of the trail accessed via the Switchbacks Trailhead near the town of Sprague River. Our intent was to bike but, since I was not feeling quite up to par that day, we just hiked some of the switchback section. It was so beautiful and green here! I cannot wait to come back and bike this area so we can cover more ground!
There was an interpretive display in the picnic area that described the use of switchbacks by the railroad industry. A switchback was used as a means to climb steep grades without having to endure the expense of building tunnels or employ heavy earth-moving equipment. We hiked the switchback area and some of the former railway bed to the south.
There were lots of wildflowers blooming along the trail including penstemon, lupine, daisies and buckwheat.
When the OC&E Railway was being shut down as a railroad corridor and the rails were being dismantled, there was one railroad car that could not be removed easily because the brakes had locked up. I was determined to see this car as we had not passed it on the trail. We found it on a section near the parking lot that we had not hiked.
Thoroughly recommend exploring all or parts of this amazing rail trail! Each section has unique qualities and landscapes. Camping is allowed only in designated places so plan ahead or simply enjoy day trips. We do not have a second vehicle to do a one-way shuttle but that would be a great way to explore the trail without backtracking.
Before leaving the area, we drove some of the national forest gravel road back into the Fremont-Winema NF and noticed a few spots where it is possible to do some dispersed camping that seemed trailer-friendly. Something to keep in mind for the future!