This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.
“Early in the 1900s Sherman County wheat farmers escaped the dry summer heat by migrating to the riverbanks of the Metolius River to fish and camp in the cool river environment. To help guide fellow farmers to the spot, devotees nailed a shoe-box top with the name Camp Sherman to a tree at a fork in the road. And so began what is believed to be the 1st tourist destination in Central Oregon!”
This ride is for you … if you like hard-packed gravel, a bit of rugged, … lakes and rivers, mountain views, some easy riding single-track … in an area that is not too remote (i.e. you will see people!)
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 45 miles / 3300 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 55% gravel, 10% single track, 35% paved
– Technical Difficulty: Moderate
– Tire Size (recommended minimum): 40mm
– eBike Friendly: No
– Location: ~ 50 minutes northwest of Bend, OR
When we like to ride this …
This route rides great (!) in the spring/early summer when the “washboard” is at a minimum, the peaks are snow-capped, and the flowers are in bloom. The fall colors can also be outstanding. If possible, do the ride midweek and not on a summer holiday weekend.
Head of the Metolius parking lot
Lat / Long: 44.434428, -121.633832
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…
The route leads out of Camp Sherman immediately crossing the Metolius river, followed by a fun 3-mile section of single-track, slightly uphill. Climb up to Round Lake to enjoy the vast views of all the surrounding mountains. Then descend back down (ok this bit is always a little bumpy!). Then you can feel like a “hero” on the pavement and then begin the climb through the B&B Complex fire area along the southwest side of Mt. Jefferson. Descend, cross the Metolius River at Lower Bridge and then onto the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery (which is well worth a stop), followed by rolling up on pavement back to Camp Sherman.
Highlights & Anchor Points
Camp Sherman / ~ Start of Route
You will start from Camp Sherman which is along the Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest.
Round Lake / ~ mile 12.9
After a slight uphill, you will enjoy views from the surrounding mountains and a visit to Round Lake.
Lower Bridge / ~ mile 35.3
Cross over the Metolius River via Lower Bridge.
Wizard Falls Hatchery / ~ mile 38.3
Stop by the Wizard Falls Hatchery around mile 38.3 where you can take a right turn to the hatchery. Wizards Falls Hatchery was constructed in 1947. Most of the hatchery has rainbow trout broodstock which are supplied to the Deschutes sub-basin in SE Oregon. The hatchery is also used for recreational fishing programs incubating kokanee salmon and spring Chinook and summer steelhead. This is a part of the upper Deschutes Basin reintroduction program. [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife]
This is also a good spot to refill on water.
Camp Sherman General Store / ~ mile 43.1
Grab a bite to eat, some drinks, or even fly fishing supplies. The Camp Sherman Store has a small store, deli and fly shop.
Technical Difficulty[what this means]
- Riding Difficulty: Moderate
The terrain is mostly hard-packed gravel roads and easy single-track trail. The climb and descent to Round Lake can be rugged, rocky and with some washboard.
- Navigation Challenge: Moderate
Navigation is relatively straightforward and the area is bounded by the Wilderness to the west (no roads), the Warm Springs Indian reservation to the north (no access), the Metolius River road to the east (paved road) and Highway 20 to the south (busy road).
- Locale Risk: Moderate+
The area is not too remote (you will see people) but there is limited call cell phone reception along the route.
Food & Water
Camp Sherman Store / Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery
Note: You can easily shorten the route by eliminating:
- The shoulder of Black Butte, delete 11.5 miles and 1050 feet of gain.
- Round Lake, delete 11 miles and 1150 feet of gain.
- The B&B Complex Fire, delete 4 miles and 500 feet of gain. At mile 32 continue north on NF 12. (Map. GPS file.)
- March 2022 / Updated for Gravel Adventure Field Guide.
- May 2021 / Changed start location to Head of Metolius parking area, updated route description, put route into tabbed columnar format.
- July 2020 / Slight changes to the route and route description.
- October 2014 / Original Post as a 5 Star route.
One of the special sections of this ride is the Lake Creek Trail, miles 3.5 to 7.5. Recently Chinook and Sockeye salmon have started spawning again in Lake Creek and Suttle Lake due to the restoration efforts led by organizations like the Deschutes Land Trust. We really like the work that the Deschutes Land Trust does and urge you to learn more about their organization.
The Lake Creek single-track trails on this route is maintained by the Sisters Trail Alliance. Trails cost money! Please consider making a contribution to their campaign so that they can continue the great work!