Sumpter Valley Interpretive Trail #260

Area Status: Open
View of visitors walking on reconstructed railway tracks

The trail overlooks the historic Dixie switchbacks that were used and abandoned by the Sumpter Valley Railway. The switchbacks were built to maintain acceptable grades into the John Day Valley. At 5,277 feet, it was the highest point on the original Sumpter Valley Railway mainline.  This compacted dirt trail is barrier free with interpretive signs giving historical details of the Sumpter Valley Railway.  The trail has a paved pull through parking area just off of the highway.  The trail affords visitors the opportunity to tracks and grade from the old railroad, allowing for an understanding of the old Sumpter Valley Railroad connecting Prairie City, Oregon with Baker City, Oregon. 

Sumpter Valley Railroad Trail

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Visitors should be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Please remember that if you pack it in, please pack it out with you.
Usage: Light
Restrictions: Horse, motorized, and mountain bike use prohibited.
Closest Towns: Prairie City, OR

General Information


From Prairie City, OR., travel east on US Highway 26 approximately 8 miles. The interpretive site is located before Dixie Summit, on the right hand side of the road.

General Notes:

The parking area is a pull through parking area that is paved.  The parking area is not plowed during the winter months. 


Day Hiking

This short trail has interpretive signs describing the historic Dixie switchbacks for the Sumpter Valley Railroad that lead from Baker City to Prairie City.

Viewing Wildlife

Wildlife are abundant throughout the area from big game animals such as Rocky Mountain Elk and mule deer to smaller creatures such as rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks all call the area home.  Bird watchers will enjoy a wide variety of birds from sparrows to large predatory birds such as eagles and hawks. 

Viewing Plants

This trail travels through beautiful ponderosa pine trees, and in fall the huckleberry bushes throughout the area are abundant. 

Interpretive Areas

Interpretive signs along the route show history of the Sumpter Valley Railway and how it came to be built into Prairie City and why the route was abandoned.


There are picnick tables located in the shade near the parking area for those wishing to take a break and enjoy the beautiful area. 

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



  Area/Length : 
0.25 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
5250 - 5277