This segment of the Oregon Timber Trail shows off the very best of high-desert riding. It takes you across prairies, through aspen groves and past giant ponderosas, and offers views in every direction, particularly from the top of Morgan Butte.
To reach the start, drive south from Paisley on NF33 for 7.7 miles and park at the Chewaucan Crossing trailhead on the left. The ride begins by crossing the Chewaucan River on the footbridge. No parking fee is required; there are vault toilets, but no potable water.
This route, which is also part of the Fremont National Recreation Trail, is mapped as an out-and-back, meaning you can turn around and enjoy the swooping descent back to the trailhead whenever you please.
The ride starts by climbing through dry, rocky prairie and old growth ponderosas. You’ll cross Cat Canyon and Skunk Hollow, but hopefully not see either. Watch for great horned owls; they’ve been spotted here, gliding silently in the forest.
If you’re feeling strong, persist and ascend all the way to the fire lookout at the summit of Morgan Butte. It’s about 2,800 feet above the trailhead, but it’s worth all the effort for the views in every direction – and the 10-mile descent back to the trailhead.
Note: If you want to make this a longer ride and see new scenery all the way, you can turn it into a loop by starting and ending in Paisley. Head south from town on Highway 31, then climb to Morgan Butte on Clover Patch Rd. and NF Road 3514; from there ride the second half of the route as mapped, and follow NF 33 to Paisley.
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