March 14, 2017
By Kris Parfitt
Photo at right: Fun for all-ages, the Joseph Branch Rail Riders offer two tours through eastern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Joseph Branch Rail Riders
Longtime cycling advocates Anita and Kim Metlen wanted to share the splendor of Oregon’s beauty with visitors to the state and so far, they have exceeded their goal.
Since May 2014 the previous owners of Mountain Works Bicycles in La Grande, Oregon have been busy operating and expanding two cycling tour businesses. One in northeastern Oregon in Joseph, and the other along the Oregon Coast near Tillamook.
However, these are not your traditional cycle tours. Instead of individuals riding a bike via road or path, cyclists sit together as a foursome on a large-wheeled platform in comfortable recumbent-like seats while pedaling a “rail bike” on abandoned railways.
“A few years ago, while admiring the scenery along the miles and miles of unused track through the beautiful Wallow Valley, we hatched an idea,” said Kim Metlen. “Wouldn’t it be great to ride a bike along the railroad?”
After a collaborative design effort between the Metlens and local manufacturing companies and permission granted from various Oregon railroad authorities, the Joseph Branch Railriders hit the rails.
Offering three guided tours a day, Thursday thru Monday between May and October, the tours proved to be so popular the Metlen’s expanded to include the Oregon Coast Railriders in May 2016.
“With the amazing success of the Joseph Branch Railriders, we began looking for other opportunities and found the right situation on the Oregon Coast near Tillamook,” said Kim Metlen.
Guests have two options with the Joseph Branch Railriders. The first is the Joseph to Enterprise round trip, a two-hour, 12-mile tour through forest and farm land with views of the majestic Wallowa Mountains.
The other is the Minam to Wallowa day trip, a six-hour, 26-mile roundtrip excursion through timbered canyons and lush farm land with parts along the Wallowa River.
Make it a trifecta rail adventure and experience the Oregon Coast Railriders option from Bay City to Tillamook. This two-hour, 12-mile roundtrip ride travels over historic rail trestles, through estuaries and local farm land. Reservations are encouraged.