Poke the Bear

5-Star Route / Published April 2015

This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.

Too many times, we have buzzed through Madras without realizing that this place is awesome for gravel riding! This route is just one awesome example of what Madras has to offer. BIG, BIG views of Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters floating in the sky, rolling hills, gurgling creeks, and sprawling ranches. All while you buzz along hard packed, fast gravel roads. And a surprising finish that includes a 27 foot sculpture of a bear. Lovely!

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 33 miles / 2400 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 85% gravel, 15% paved
Technical Difficulty: Moderate-
Tire Size (recommended minimum):
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: Madras, Oregon
– Published: April 2015 (Updated January 2020)

Strava | GPX file | Cue Sheet | Legend

When we like to ride this …

In the spring when the creeks flow full and the flowers are in bloom. (Truly our favorite time.) Or on a cool, sunny fall day when the trees are changing colors. Or, on a winter day, when the ground is frozen (yes, frozen, not just cold). It is best to avoid this route when wet or muddy, because the mud can really stick to your bike. Trust us, we have pushed, walked and carried our bikes through ankle sucking mud for at least a mile … which felt like eternity.

The Start

Juniper Hills park. Flush toilets.
Lat / Long: 44.636917, -121.098333

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.


Terrain & Riding: What to expect …

Aside from being able to “poke” the bear statue, this ride has impressive scenic views with 7 peaks in total. There are some punchy hills and a gradual climb that starts after mile 10.

The road becomes a bit more primitive and can be muddy. We recommended not pursuing forward if it is muddy!

Highlights & Anchor Points

Juniper Hills Park / ~ Start of Route

The route starts on the northeastern edge of Madras, climbing for the first 1.25 miles on pavement, then dipping down just as far. Pick up the gravel and roll up and down through the Baldwin Hills for the next 5 miles, gaining a net of 650 feet.

Hay Creek Ranch / ~ mile 10.1

Catch the sweeping left banking descent that leads down to Hay Creek Ranch. Pass by the pastures that lead with the Great Pyrenees dogs carefully guarding the herds of sheep. (Hay Creek Ranch was established in 1873 and was a stopping point for the the Dalles Prineville freight and stage coach lines until 1912.)

Gradual Climb & Brewer Reservoir / ~ miles 10.1 to mile 18.6

After the ranch you begin a long gradual climb for the next 8.5 miles. You will pass by the Brewer Reservoir on your left which is known spot for birders and fly fisherman. Just after this, the road becomes a bit more primitive. If it is muddy, turn around! It will not get better, only worse. Trust us!

Gravel Super Highway / ~ mile 18

You continue to climb until mile 17, then just past mile 18 make a hard right onto Grizzly Road, a super-highway for gravel. Crest the final gravel kicker for the day, then start to buzz your way back to town with big views of Mt Jefferson, the Three Sisters and other peaks (7 in total).

Poke the Bear / ~ mile 31

At ~ mile 31 is back to pavement. Stop to “poke” the impressive bear sculpture and begin the last mile back to the start / finish. It has a short, pitched climb. No whining, you just had a great day!

Technical Difficulty[what this means]

  • Riding Difficulty: Moderate-
    Some punchy hills and a long continuous descent.
  • Navigation Challenge: Moderate
    I would definitely recommend using a GPS device with downloaded route.
  • Locale Risk: Moderate
    Although close to Madras, the gravel roads can be a bit deserted.

Food & Water

None

Other Notes

  • When the road becomes more primitive around mile 10.1 and is muddy – turn around! It will get much worse. We can’t emphasize this enough!

Ridden and Reviewed by …

Gravel Girl / Team Dirty Freehub

She loves a good day of gravel, like most people like a good book. She’s always amused by the outdoors and the wild adventures. Gravel Girl is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Captain O / Team Dirty Freehub

He should have “Never Stop Exploring” tattooed on his chest! He loves adventures on bikes and is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Comments

Revision History

  • March 2022 / Updated for Gravel Adventure Field Guide.
  • January 2022 / Updated content.
  • April 2015 / Original Post as a 5-Star Route.

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Podcasts

Coming soon …

  • Art in Madras
  • The Bear!

Keep it Local!

After a great day of riding, go grab a beer at the Madras Brewing Co or Wild Winds Station in Madras.

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