This route is a complete accident! We’ve driven by this area for years, glancing from a speeding car, in a hurry, not thinking much about it. But we needed to give it a ride as we were working a different route in the area, looking for some intel on the western flank of Gray Butte. But … “oh my” … were we surprised. This route has some of the best, if not the best, views of the Cascades in Central Oregon.
The start is from the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic viewpoint where the Crooked river railroad bridge and the Crooked River (High) bridge cross the deep gorge of the Crooked river. Take the time to wander, look, and read up on the history of the area at the kiosks.
The Crooked River (High) bridge is 464 feet long, and at 295 feet above the river it was the nations single highest arch span when constructed. Oregon’s famous bridge engineer, Conde B. MCCullough, designed the bridge to blend gracefully with the regions rugged landscape — harmonizing with the Oregon Trunk Line Railway bridge (1910) downstream. [from on-site kiosks]
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Lollipop: 20 miles / 1500 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 45% gravel, 55% paved
– Technical Difficulty: Moderate-
– Tire Size (recommended minimum): 40 mm
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 30 minutes north of Bend, OR
Terrain & Riding: What to expect …
The trickiest part about this route, is the start. From the parking lot, make your way towards the Crooked River (High) bridge. Cross it and then follow the paved path to Highway 97. Cross the highway, and then proceed north along the highway for 20 to 40 yards. To your right you will see the old highway, or as it is called today the Culver highway. This is the road you want. Look for the concrete barriers and barb wire fence. Just to the right of the barriers is an opening in the fence that you want to take.
The route is a fun mixture of gravel roads, dirt BLM roads, pavement, juniper trees and farmlands, rolling hills, flats and a few popper hills. And some of the best views of the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. The dirt BLM roads will be the most challenging, some chunk and a bit rutted.
Technical Difficulty[what this means]
- Riding Difficulty: Moderate. Due to the primitive Forest Service road section with 8% to 12% up and down grades.
- Navigation: Straightforward
- Locale: Remote
When we like to ride this …
On a sunny day when the Cascade mountains are snow capped. The route is rideable almost anytime of the year. Avoid when wet.
Food & Water
Love Where You Ride!
Much of this route is through the Crooked River National Grasslands. Between 1880 and 1930 much of this land was tilled up for farming after it was mistakenly reported that the land was suitable for dryland farming. By 1930, after a 10-year drought, nearly 700 homesteaders had moved out . The grasslands were returned to government ownership through the purchase of non-performing homestead lands in 1960s.
Today, the grasslands provides habitat for 375 species of wildlife including deer, elk, antelope, mountain lion, songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors including the threatened Northern Bald Eagle and the endangered Peregrine Falcon.
Ridden & Reviewed by …
Kevin and Linda are the co-founders of Dirty Freehub. Their passion is the outdoors, hanging out with friends, riding dirty, and smiling!