Railbed Spurs

5 Star Route

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

This Bend Short leverages former railbed logging spurs once used to harvest trees from the Deschutes National Forest.  As a result the grades are low and constant allowing for a quick after-work ride. Once on the spurs, the grade is less than 2% over 8 miles, assuming a clockwise start. This would be the social section of the ride. The route generally involves very little route finding making the sights that much more accessible – with many views into Central Oregon.

The initiating lollipop’s stick follows Forest Road 4606, the old Brooks-Scanlon rail line once connecting Bend to the Sisters engine house and reaching all the way to Black Butte. There is a short segment connecting 4606 to the logging spurs. This is also a conduit through private land where cycling is permitted and motorized recreation prohibited.  

At the start there are signs indicating parking restrictions – please park your vehicle off the roadway. 

This ride is for you … if you are looking for a quick ride in the forest, quiet and open spaces, views, and easy downhill.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Lollipop: 23 miles / 1400 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 100% gravel / dirt roads
eBike Friendly: No
– Location: Bend, OR
– Published: August 2021

Terrain & Technical Riding Difficulty[what this means]

Easy

Terrain: Most of the route is over abandoned railbed.  As a result the grades are low and fairly consistent at less less than 2%.  On some sections the cinder and gravel railbed is slowing giving way to dirt and can become a little sandy in the summer. The descent can be fast – watch for ruts, erosion, and sand traps.

Some segments are private land where timber is harvested.  During the week one might encounter live operations. If you do, please indicate to drivers that you are yielding by putting a foot down on the side of the road.

Navigation: There are a couple of tricky turns onto smaller roads. If you get off course it should become obvious pretty quickly.

Locale: At the urban / rural interface of Bend.

When we like to ride this …

… most of the year. Note that from December 1 through March 31st; the route is closed then due to wildlife migration and winter range habitat. Please respect this.

The Start

Just north of where NF-4606 T’s off of Skyliners Road.
Lat / Long: 44.0468682,-121.4027672

Legend

Black = unknown / undocumented surface type
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track
Purple = paved bike path / roubaix

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.


Ride Details

Brad Chalfant, the founder and former Executive Director of the Deschutes Land Trust, gave us this perspective and history on the railbed spurs.

“The railroad logging was done by a number of private logging companies and for the most part, they were cutting on private timberlands (not National Forest land). There were lots of stories of loggers making claim to timberland (then called Forest Reserves) thru the Timber and Stone Act (similar to a homestead claim) and then signing the land over to their employer. How much of that’s true or fanciful fiction, I don’t really know, but I do know that the Deschutes County Historical Society has a fair amount of information on the subject.   Read more

Miles 0 to 3 and 19 to 22 / Gravel, Dirt

Brooks-Scanlon Logging Road NF 4606.

Miles 3 to 3.5 and 15.5 to 19 / Dirt

Transition on unimproved roads from NF 4606 to the logging spurs on private and national forest lands.

Miles 3.5 to 15.5 / Dirt, Gravel

Gradual inclines and descents on abandoned railbeds.

Miles 15.5 to 19 / Dirt, Gravel

Transition on unimproved roads from the logging spurs on private and national forest lands to NF 4606.

Miles 19 to 22 / Gravel, Dirt

Brooks-Scanlon Logging Road NF 4606.

Food & Water

None.

Ride Notes

Best ridden on 45 mm tires plus or minus 5 mm. Clockwise recommended.

By riding in this area you will have an impact on wildlife, even if you don’t see the wildlife! To minimize your impact we recommend the following guidelines:

  • If you see large game animals, give them space and distance to wander off. If they run, you have disturbed them and raised their anxiety level. (This is by far most important thing you can do.)
  • Limit your group size to 6 or less.
  • Limit group separation by 100 yards or less.
  • Limit noise disturbance by using your something between your library voice and conversational voice.
  • Do not bring your dog with you. Dogs have a significant and detrimental impact to wildlife.
  • Wear clothing that blends into the natural surroundings.
  • Listen to the Wildlife Impact podcast (just to the right – forthcoming.)

If you feel threatened by a big game animal there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Please give a listen to the podcast to the right on High Anxiety Wildlife Encounters (forthcoming).

Ride Options

Below we have highlighted two alternative starts. The first is from Shevlin Commons and uses the Western Larch trail. This is a really good start, highly scenic. The second starts from Shevlin Park and uses some trails rarely ridden and a quiet dirt road. Captain ‘O’ likes this start, but it is a bit more technical and demanding.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

BenG / Team Dirty Freehub

Ben has made Central Oregon home for both work and play since 2000, in the summer dabbling in many kinds of cycling, running, hiking, or paddling, with winter’s favorite the overnight, free-heel, ski-tour of the backcountry. Always looking for adventure, yet still trading engineering skills with Dassault Systèms to pay the bills.

Comments

Revision History

  • August 2021 / Original Post in the Shorts Collection.

Get Involved!

A majority of this route is within the Skyline Forest, private land open to limited recreation use (including bikes). However, there is the possibility and threat that this land could be built out and no longer accessible to the public. The Deschutes Land Trust has taken a leading role in working to protect this forest and and keep it open to the public. To learn more we encourage you to read the recap of the October 2020 Zoomcast we held with Brad Chalfant, the then Executive Director of the Deschutes Land Trust. Also, please consider making a donation to the Deschutes Land Trust to continue their work on this property.


The Ride!


Podcasts

Coming soon …

  • Wildlife Impact
  • Wildlife Encounters
  • Logging Rd etiquette
  • Skyline Forest

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