The Panther is just one cool cat … and so is this ride which includes meandering along and past Panther Creek, Panther Creek Falls and a whole lot of lush forest … a moderate climb up a small forest service road, then some gravel and then a down on a smaller forest service road that twists and turns and finally to the start / finish at the crossing of The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) … all in the middle of Wind River Experimental Forest which is rich in the history of forest research.
Just outside the town of Stabler, WA the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)crosses the Wind River Highway. This is where you park … and wave to the hikers. Now before you get any crazy ideas of riding up that sweet little trail, we kindly ask you leave your bike at your car to explore the trail. The PCT has a no bikes policy. **Read More
For your bike adventure, you head south towards Stabler on the Wind River Highway for a brief moment (0.2 mile). Turn left onto a quiet gravel road for the real warm-up, a short climb and a short descent and a bit of rolling terrain (for ~ 1.7 miles).
When you reach the next paved road, NF 60 / Panther Creek road, turn left, and shortly thereafter cross over Panther Creek. Look out for elk, turkeys, panthers and fly fishermen that share this water source.
Now, the climb of the day is about to begin. It’s a continuous climb that cuts through the Wind River Experimental Forest which was established in 1909 to answer the timeless question of how to better grow Douglas-fir trees. All the who, what, when and why details can be answered on this handy brochure.
At ~ mile 6.5 is the crown jewel of the day, Panther Creek Falls which is a short hike … More info here and here. The falls are easy to miss. Look for a large gravel/dirt pull-out on the right hand side at the base of a large rock cliff. Look for the trailhead sign in a tree about 50 yards back (south) on the other side of the road.
At mile 10 you crest the hill and now you run into gravel segment (~ 3 miles) that turns back to pavement. We know you want to rip the downhill of this tiny paved road, but keep your hands at least close to the brakes because there are a few good bumps and cracks that will remind you to dial it down. Not to mention there’s an off chance of a car coming at you.
When you return to the Wind River Highway you have two blinks to get back to your car. We recommend you hike 5 minutes down the PCT trail and enjoy a nice view of the river from the bridge. Say hi to the hikers …
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 21 miles / 2600 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 22.5% gravel, 78.5% tarmac
– Location: ~ 40 min from Hood River, Oregon / ~ 1 hour, 10 minutes from Portland, Oregon
– Rideable: Spring to Fall. Maybe winter.
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Published: July 2019
Easier+. Not much gravel, but a bit of climbing on pavement.
Dirt pull-out on west side of Wind River highway where the Pacific Crest trail crosses.
Lat / Long: 45.820697, -121.912892
Food / Water
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road