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Old 05-07-2011, 10:17 PM   #485
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Zillah WA, The Dalles OR
Oddometer: 1,258
Originally Posted by Apple Jam View Post
Freebridge was another Railroad stop,
but it also marks the road towards the Deschutes that was the original Oregon Trail river crossing location and wagon route,
as it climbed in and out of the deep Deschutes River Gorge.

I remember seeing this curious building, here in the middle of nowhere before.
It is the old trainstop, and knowing this now, I finally understand why it was built the way it was.
But I've never really noticed the inconspicuous dirt road that followed some powerlines, opposite this building

Having the GPS here now, I find that this is the completely unmarked

"Freebridge Rd"
This is an OLD, OLD road. It is obvious that it has been dug out of the flatland and gently rolling hills it was built through.
Dug out again, and again. And when it got muddy, it was dug out again.
It has become a 6-7 deep scar through the landscape

You won't really want to do this road in the extreme wet or dry. It would be extremely muddy or extremely dusty. It'd be ridable, but.....
There is no gravel, and the surface is several inches thick of sludge. Good enough for riding today, but I think that it's a narrow window.

As I start to see the Deschutes River Gorge, I'm getting kind of excited about what I might find here.
The grade down into the Gorge is pretty rough, steep, and very narrow.
A real Jeep trail; You would'nt really want to take a Super Duty Ford on this road, but you could, really slowly.

The views are really nice

At the bottom, the current road stops short of the Railroad tracks that are still currently used.
The East side had tracks too, started at the same time in 1909 by a competing company, and the first one wins.
The West side tracks won, and the East side grade was abandoned.
It is now a hiking and bicycling only trail through this section of the Deschutes River Gorge.
Take the time, if you go down Freebridge Rd to the bottom of the Gorge,
to walk across the tracks, all the way down to the river's edge.
I almost skipped it, thinking there was nothing left of the last old "free" bridge across the river.
It was named "Freebridge" after Wasco County purchased it in 1909, and stopped charging the toll that all previous travellers had to pay.

Just to the South, out of sight of the end of the current road, are the old bridge foundations.
This bridge was sabotaged in 1914, and was never rebuilt.
For THIS BOY....This was cool shit, indeed.

I spent quite a while here, eating my sandwich, and pondering History.
Imagine being in a frickin' WAGON doing this road instead of a KTM, with a motor???
Back at the top, I ride out a short road to the bluff overlooking the Canyon.
I see that I'm being watched from only 45 feet away.....

I don't think they get too many visitors here, they were NOT afraid.
The view from the top of this bluff was nice.
You can clearly see both RR grades on both sides of the river, as well as the Freebridge Road grade to the right, on the hillside.
Next up: Center Ridge Rd to Tygh Ridge......
Ive been tasked to take some big adventure bikes down Free Bridge this weekend. I pre-drove the route today. Im concerned that so of the less experienced riders will have trouble on this road. The road was what you described but there are places where there are shear drop offs of several hundred feet. The face that your literaly inches from the edge might be too much. I'll brief these guys and at the top of the hill before we go down.
This is one bad ass road for an adventure bike, dual sport not so much.
"Piss-poor planning leads to great adventures"

2010 BMW R1200GS, 2010 Ducati Monster 1100S, 2013 KTM 690 Enduro, 1985 Beta TR32, 1968 BSA 441 Victor Special
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