This loop traverses 45 miles of remote Harney County backcountry north of Riley Junction. While many of these roads are well maintained, be warned that portions of this route particularly to the north of Miller Canyon are rough and should not be attempted unless you are well prepared. Carry good maps and plenty of water.
The loop starts on Silver Creek road, continues north of Dry Mountain along Egypt Creek, crosses a low pass, and returns to Riley on Miller Canyon Road.
This route is detailed below:Directions
Habitat and Birds
About 0.5 miles north you will cross Silver Creek. Turn left here to stay on Silver Creek Road. A total of 5.6 miles from Hwy 20 you will reach Best Lane on the left here (43.590175, -119.607676). Explore the 1.5 miles of streamside wetlands of Silver Creek here along Best Lane. This area can be very productive in the spring when the willows have leaves and the fields are flooded.
Return to Silver Creek Road and continue north. Follow this road until the pavement ends and you have crossed into the Ochoco NF lands at which point Silver Creek Road becomes National Forest road 4130. Stay on NF 4130 until you come to NF 4135. Turn south onto this road and proceed until you come to a Y in the road. Stay to the left and proceed south. If you opt to go right at this Y you will need a high clearance 4×4 and you can take a rough road up a steep mountain to a spectacular view of the Harney Basin at the Dry Mountain Fire Lookout (6383′). This is a very under birded area and little is known of it. The author has been to this location twice and has yet to meet another birder who has been there. It has all the birds expected in the southern Blue Mountains. Note that you may encounter ticks in spring. It is great birding!
As you proceed south on NF 4135 you will once again come to a split in the road, keep to the right and you will be in Miller Canyon which will take you back on Harney Co. Rd 139 to Hwy 20.
Birding this loop requires that you stop frequently and listen while you search for birds. Watch for warblers and wetland birds along Silver Creek and Good Luck!