The Northern section of the Oregon Cascade Discovery Route (CDR) runs from Parkdale to Big Lake, Oregon along the Cascade Range on dirt and gravel roads with occasional pavement. The Oregon CDR North has it all: stunning views, challenging riding, and remote campsites — and it's packed into a route you can knock out in a long weekend.
ADV Inmate Apple Jam released his GPS tracks for the Oregon CDR in 2015, and it’s been delighting riders ever since. The route has since been expanded past Big Lake, and it’s hoped that it’ll eventually run the length of the Cascades to the California border. You can download the tracks yourself at cascadediscoveryroute.org.
My friend 10guy and I rode most of the Northern CDR over Labor Day Weekend, 2018.
I wasn’t able to escape from cubicle prison until 1pm on Friday, but we eventually got underway and slabbed it from Albany to Mill City to Detroit Lake. We fueled up in Detroit and headed up NFS-46 and NFS-42 to Parkdale, which is just south of Hood River. The skies were blue and sunny, but it was pretty damn chilly riding at elevation at speed, and my DR200 developed an odd coughing issue just past Clackamas Lake Ranger Station.
We ended up in Parkdale for no reason as someone never bothered to look at the map for the actual start of the CDR. (Oops, my bad!) Boo was still doing the weird surging thing under load and I was shivering with cold, but when it’s a beautiful day with perfect blue skies and you’re out riding, all is well in the world.
We reached the CDR proper just before 6pm, and rode for about an hour before we started looking for a place to camp. Despite the holiday weekend, we found Gibson Horse Camp deserted. It turned out to be a nice spot: free, with a vault toilet and a nice clear spring for a water source.
The statewide campfire ban made it hard for me to thaw out after the day’s ride, but some warm food and good conversation kept my spirits up. We also had a chance to look at Boo and figured out that my chain had decided to start a-stretchin’. Once a chain starts to go, it really starts to go, so chain adjustment ended up being a constant during this trip.
We rolled out late Saturday morning, and after a nice warmup on gravel, we finally hit the famed “GOOD BAD ROADS” of the CDR and they did not disappoint.
We’d heard that OHV areas were closed so we skipped the OHV section west of Wamic. I’d hit reserve at 150 miles so we headed to Wamic for fuel and resupply, then rode the Barlow Wagon Road, which was a highlight.
I spent all day wearing a big dopey grin or laughing my head off with delight inside my helmet, all the way to that evening’s camp at Clear Lake.
I woke up out of sorts on Sunday, after a night of bad sleep. The overnight temps were warmer than the previous night’s camp but for some reason I just couldn’t get warm.
Still, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you wake up to this view.
Then it was time for more GOOD BAD ROADS and more cackling with delight inside my lid, because dirty two-track is my favorite.
I’m not a good off-road rider so the rock garden around Olallie Lake kicked my ass (sometimes literally as I was not confident enough to stand up on the pegs as much as I should have) but I didn’t stop in terror and I didn’t crash so that’s a victory.
Unfortunately, this also meant that I didn’t stop for photos at Money Shot Part Two: Olallie Lake.
IMAGINE A GORGEOUS BLUE LAKE WITH A MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN HERE
The rocks around Olallie Lake took one of 10guy’s tool tubes as tribute. Hey, if you find a pouch full of tools out there let me know, eh?
We fueled up and resupplied in Detroit, and were back on our way around 5pm. I was pretty beat up from the rock garden but was hoping to ride until 6:30 or so, but after some sloppy riding on my part I knew I need to quit sooner. 10guy found a nice spot to camp off an abandoned road in the shadow of Coffin Mountain Lookout.
To be continued…