OC&E Woods Line State Trail

Walking part of the OC&E rail trail

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

Along the Lost River east of Olene
A bridge carrying water from the canal above the river
There are numerous gates along the way that need to be passed through due to ranching operations adjacent to the trail
Farm Country!
The trail along the Klamath – Dairy Section parallels scenic Route 140 and crosses the road at one junction

Switchbacks 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!

The trailhead area has a nice picnic area, pit toilet and magnificent views!

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.

Along the switchback

There were lots of wildflowers blooming along the trail including penstemon, lupine, daisies and buckwheat.

Penstemon speciosa – Showy Penstemon
Another close-up of the Penstemon – stunning, vibrant color!
Sulfur Buckwheat – Eriogonum umbellatum
Lupinus argenteus – Silvery Lupine
Erigeron tener – Slender Fleabane

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.

Abandoned rail car disappearing into the landscape!
Jim inspecting the car, of course!
Looking out across the valley from the trail
The bright green leaves of deciduous trees in the valley created a brilliant contrast to the pines

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!

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