The rainy season saw us on the run recently. Away from the damp, grey box of our mountain-lined city towards sunny, wide open spaces. Weather forecasts pointed us southeast of the Cascade Range to the rolling land between Yakima and Walla Walla. In this sage-filled desert, there are trail networks that make for great late season riding. One of these is just over the Washington border in Echo, Oregon.
Those of you who have driven Interstate 84 with Moab-glazed eyes would have cruised right by the exit to Echo. This little town of 700, tucked in to the banks of the Umatilla River, wouldn’t be on your radar unless you are a wino or a mountain biker. It just so happens that in Echo, wine and mountain biking go hand in hand. The Sno Road Winery and Echo West Vineyard not only produce nice white and red wines, they are also home to 20 plus miles of classic desert singletrack.
Built with multiple loop options, the fast-flowing Echo singletrack will have you twisting and turning through the sagebrush. Short, punchy climbs and some technical challenges add interest. You may also see deer and sheep. Sno Road Winery uses sheep to control weeds on their property instead of pesticides. What you won’t see are packed trails unless you come in early-season when the annual Red to Red mountain bike race attracts hundreds of riders.
The Echo trails aren’t a destination ride but they are worth a stop on your next road trip along Interstate 84. Bring firewood, water and a pit shovel and you can camp at the trailhead. Drop in at the Sno Road winery and thank the owners for their support. And for those who have a rainy season – stop here to enjoy dry trails under sunny, blue skies.