Published by: The Observer
Written by: Mavis Hartz
The Echo West Vineyard, Sno Road Winery MTB Trail System, is located south of Echo, Oregon. Echo West Vineyard is home to a marvelous mountain bike trail system best enjoyed during the cooler months of the year. Echo is nestled in the rolling hills a short distance west of Pendleton on Interstate 84. To locate the trails drive west on Main Street Echo towards Lexington, out of town and across the Umatilla River 1.1 miles. Turn south onto County Road 1347 otherwise marked as Snow Road. Travel down the gravel lined Snow Road 2.8 miles to an interesting junction with a number of signs heralding, Echo Ridge, an arrow and a bicycle; turn east. Directly past a working gravel pit to the south there is a parking area with a kiosk and fire pit. Written by: Mavis Hartz
The Sno Road Winery Property is private but the trail system is open to respectful public uses, including biking and hiking. The owners do request no dogs due to conflict with the working sheep dogs already on the property with their flocks. The trail system winds among sandy sagebrush terrain and occupies both sides of Alkaii Canyon. It is organized with a main trail traveling both sides of the drainage and addition mileage available due to the loops that link into it. This type of trail design can be easily adapted to match the time allotment and fitness level of the rider. The lack of rocks, copious amounts of smooth surface, flowing curves and pastoral scenery are very conducive to both beginner and expert riders.
A great basic ride on this trail system is about 11 miles long and starts on the west side of Alkaii Canyon traveling south on Loop A and Shayne’s then connecting with loops B, D and Shelly’s Trail. Loop A starts out gradually following the contours of the hillside gaining and losing elevation with delightfully banked corners, boardwalks and monstrous sagebrush. The pungent sagebrush clears your nasal passages for the weave up Shayne’s Trail and the 100-foot elevation loss back into the canyon’s bottom.
Follow Trail B out onto the rolling hills, past a rocky moss-filled spring. The fields surrounding Trail B frequently host livestock. Trail B weaves over rolling Palouse Prairie full of wild birds, bunch grasses and flowers to connect back into Trail C and D. I prefer to skip Trail C and instead travel onto Trail D. Trail D whips under the unique bicycle up and over overpass and continues north on the east side of Alkaii Canyon in the direction of the
There are several loops available past the up and over. Shelly’s Trail is an additional favorite named after one of the original trail builders. Shelly’s Trail, like Shayne’s loop, offers great flowing downhill as reward for a bit of upward climbing and alluring vistas when you reach the top. The eastside of the canyon supplies terrain that is a bit more aggressive in terms of rocks and exposure but is still very attainable for a beginning to intermediate mountain bike rider. The final bermed corners into the parking lot will leave a smile on a riders face.
As you leave Echo visit Sno Road Winery on Main Street and let your pleasure and thanks be known. If you are interested in mountain bike racing or just a great day in Echo be sure to check out Echo's Red 2 Red Race often in February. Echo Red 2 Red is a XC mountain bike race. The proceeds go to The Echo Hills Trail Builders for maintenance of the trails. The multi-year running race is one of a select few that is OBRA sanctioned and very well attended. Echo Red 2 Red is one of the earliest races of the year and one of the few to start and finish in a town where hordes of spectators can cheer. Echo tends to roll out the red carpet for the race with a variety of community events taking place at the same time.