Alkali Canyon Road and Mud Springs Canyon Road

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From I-84 Exit 209 in Pendleton, take Hwy 395 south for about 23 miles to Hwy 74. Go west on Hwy 74 for 2.0 miles to Alkali Canyon Road. Turn right (north) onto Alkali Canyon Road. Bird Alkali Canyon Road for 4.1 miles and continue straight (north) on Mud Springs Canyon Road. Continue north another 7 miles to the junction of Speare Canyon Road and Coombs Canyon Road. You can either take Coombs Rd. back to Pendleton (15 miles) or you can continue on Mud Springs Canyon Road for another 7.4 miles to Cunningham Road. Go right on Cunningham and continue to the Umatilla River and cross the bridge. Turn right (east) on Rieth Road and follow the signs back to Pendleton via Rieth Road.

Snow drifts can close the roads in this area. These county roads are gravel and dirt, and during spring thaw, the roads can become very muddy and slippery.


Habitat and Birds

Dry grasslands and farmland. Grassland birds are common here, and Horned Larks are especially abundant year round. Western Meadowlarks, Vesper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows breed along the route, and a colony of Grasshopper Sparrows usually can be found breeding a mile south of the Coombs Canyon Road intersection. A pair of Burrowing Owls nested in burrows along the roadside near mile 2.5 in 2005. A few Short-eared Owls usually can be found during the breeding season, and some years, for example 2011 and 2012, they are fairly common. Check the brushy areas along the route for Great Horned and Long-eared Owls.

In winter, check the Horned Lark flocks for the rare Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspurs. A few American Tree Sparrows usually spend the winter along the route, but are hard to find. Rough-legged Hawks are usually easy to find in winter, especially along the southern part of the route. A Snowy Owl was near mile 5 of the route in Feb. 2007.