Nena to Mack's Canyon




It's a washboarded dirt/gravel road north downriver til Harpham Flat, where you hit pavement. Unfortunately you have to share the grade with motor vehicles all the way to Mack's Canyon. Traffic's pretty light.

8 miles downriver from the gate you'll come onto 197 and Maupin. You can get your next "boater pass" in the minimart at the foot of the highway bridge.

The main part of town is across the river, uphill. There's a big BLM "information center" that just sits there, closed, because they don't staff it.

Further up is a 3 or 4-block main street with small-town essentials - hardware, supermarket - and river-based businesses catering to rafters and fishermen.

Maupin also seems to be the maintenance center for the railroad in the canyon, with construction and repair equipment staged.

There are some bits of railroady architecture around, as if they'd been bought and preserved after the rails were pulled.

There's camping at the Maupin city park, and at numerous BLM campgrounds strung out downriver the next 26 miles. I believe wildcat camping on the east bank isn't just discouraged, it's illegal - probably due to the stinking messes ignorant people leave behind.

Of course, as an experienced rail-trailer, you know the rules, and how to "leave no trace".

BLM sites were $8 weeknights, $12 Friday and Saturday nights. They do have dumpsters, and vault toilets are along the whole stretch of river to reduce those stinking messes. These amenities are available to innocent passers-by as well as paying guests.

What there isn't is potable water. If you spend any time along the river, you may have to drink it. I've seen some blather about it being "wild" and "pristine". Ahem. I recommend filtration and iodine to the strictest standards.

It's just about 34 miles from the gate to Mack's, so you could ride it in a day, but I'd take 2 - if not 3. It's a pretty place, and what are you there for anyway but to enjoy it?

Keep in mind, when you get your boater pass in Maupin, you'll have to pick a particular day and stick to it.

Here's some of what's ahead -



The "Class VI" Sherars Falls, considered unsurvivable in a boat or raft -

When the tribes ceded land to the U.S., they retained rights to their traditional fishing sites, and they use them.

216 crosses the Deschutes just below the falls at Sherars Bridge. A worthwhile side-trip, if you have the time, is uphill west a few miles to White River State Park.

There's a spectacular gorge and falls, leading down to an abandoned 1910 hydropower plant.

Here at RM 41 the two racing railroads tunneled side by side to get through a mountain of basalt (buh-SALT) that forces the river around a horseshoe bend. Hill's west-bank road, on the left, crossed on one bridge, tunneled through the basalt, and crossed back on a second bridge. Harriman's east-bank road tunneled straight through - "tunnel #1". You can see its remains just above the clump of trees, right of center. It was blown for combat practice, then the grade was buried when the motor road was blasted through above. This is the south side and bridge. Here's a 1912 Oregon Trunk passenger train southbound on the north bridge about to enter the tunnel -

A riverside railroad car -

The road is paved out to just past Sherars Bridge. From there it gradually deteriorates, from gravel to dirt, but it's not a bad road, and it also gets wilder as you go further north, with more wildlife and less traffic. This is great Bighorn country. I saw a large band of ewes and lambs climbing back up from the river early one morning.

The road dead-ends at Mack's Canyon. The trestle is gone. As noted previously, you can rough it from here, raft it, or turn around. On the river there's a BLM campground, day use area, and a beach.

Next leg downriver - RM 25 to 20