Alpacas are a smaller version of a llama, with fire-resistant, hypoallergenic, water-resistant, silky fur. They spit when threatened; they orgle (a humming sound) when curious. They do not shit where they eat but rather in group piles. And they were domesticated by the Incas more than 6,000 years ago.
And in this ride, you are going to see plenty of them!
But if seeing alpacas isn’t a good enough reason to get on a bike, how about sweeping views of Mt Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and Mt Jefferson? Or 3 crossings of the scenic Deschutes River? Or a whole lot of gravel roads slicing through farms and BLM land?
But, before you hit the download key on the GPS, let us warn you: this ride contains four miles of “chunk and pump” which will leave some of you crying like a toddler who had their candy ripped off by an older brother.
This route is great for cold weather riding because it shouldn’t hold too much snow (it’s low and sunny). This is not the ride to pick when moon dust season is here. (Ah, that could be summer, maybe sooner.)
Late-fall to mid-spring. This route is really best on a warm winter day (50 degrees plus) with the sun out and bright. The “pump and chunk” section can be moon dust hell in the summertime. The route needs moisture in the ground, thus it is rideable in the fall after several freeze-thaw cycles.
Downtown Tumalo. We normally start at the Tumalo Coffeehouse.
Lat / Long: 44.149840, -121.330868
The highlights of this ride are three crossings of the Deschutes River, a couple of miles of fast, flowy single-track, and big mountain views along.
The ride starts in the town of Tumalo, where you can grab that final cup of coffee at Tumalo Coffeehouse. Head northeast on Tumalo Road (we suggest single file here), and at the top of the hill, go left onto Swalley road. The route now follows the popular Twin Bridges road ride, but in the opposite direction. At mile 2.9, cross the Deschutes River for the first of 3 times today. It is worth the time to make the stop at one of the crossings.
At mile 3.5, the intersection of White Rock Road, go straight onto the gravel. You will pass by a series of small farms and ranches. At the next intersection, the good gravel will give way to a double track road (Play micro-video) …. and yes, this is public.
At the T-intersection, go right (paved), and in a short distance, make a left. This is a sneaky, hard to identify left. Again, public access!
Soon you will find yourself at the Maston trailhead. Continue a bit further, and at mile 7.5, catch the single-track. (Play micro-video) It is fast and flowy, with only a couple of sections of rocky terrain. Gravel Girl says it is all rideable.
After almost 3 miles of single-track fun, make a left onto an unnamed gravel road. This road has little to no traffic as there is a gate at the very end of it near the highway at mile 12. Go right. The next 2.5 miles are on Cline Falls Highway. It has roughly a 2-foot shoulder. Pedal hard and just get it done! Remember the red blinky light; use it!
At mile 14.7, you cross over Highway 126. The traffic eases up. Soon your back onto hard-packed gravel with a slight downhill grade. At mile 18, cross the Deschutes River for the second time. This is Tetherow Crossing and the location of the longest standing home in Deschutes County.
Tetherow Crossing was one of three original Deschutes River crossings in the settlement days of Central Oregon. Originally the crossing was a ford followed by a cable ferry from 1879 until 1885, when the original bridge was built to allow people easier access to Camp Polk (near Sisters) and then onto Albany, Oregon. The current bridge was built in 1966. [Kiosk on site]
Kick up a small incline. Look right. This section of river is absolutely beautiful in the springtime when everything is green, and the river is full and gurgling.
The next turn at mile 19.3 is a left along the powerlines. It is easy to miss the first time. This section has rugged slabs of rock and can be soft and sandy. Remember what we said about the route needing moisture? Continue to follow the power lines until just after mile 20. Catch a sliver of paved road and then continue on dirt following the power lines again. When the route makes a hard 90 degree left, the traveling gets a bit easier. This is the 504 road.
Note, from miles 20 to 23 to the west of the route; there are some interesting options for exploration. If you find something cool, drop us an email.
At mile 23, make a left onto Lower Bridge road (paved). In just a bit, you have some big mountain views with a fast descent (Play micro-video) down to the third crossing of the Deschutes River. Beyond the river, it is an easy pedal up a slight grade to the alpaca farm! This is worth the stop, but don’t roll your bike too far into the ditch as we picked up some goatheads here.
The next section you will love or hate. Nothing in between. It starts with a hard-packed gravel road that can be heavily washboarded. The county periodically grades it, but it is also is used as a shortcut by locals, so … it can get dusty. What we like are the big views of the mountains to your right.
At mile 32, cross Highway 126 again. The road is initially red cinder, but it becomes loose dirt and rocky when the road makes a shallow left. This is the “Pump & Chunk” section. It’s a mix of pump track mini-rollers and chucky rock. Some embedded in the road, some loose. Embrace the challenge or grit your teeth and just bare it for the next several miles. (Play micro-video)
At ~ mile 37.3, the terror ends with a left onto Gerking Market road. From here in, it is “Cadillac” gravel or paved. It is mostly quiet backcountry roads except for the last 2+ miles, which are on Cline Falls Highway, but fortunately, it is slightly downhill.
At the end, spin past the coffee shop and head to the food court 2 blocks down the road with loads of great options.
40 mm tires or larger. Our preference is for something a bit wider due to the single track in Maston and the “pump and chunk” along Barr road.
Recommend a red blinky light as the route has several sections with moderate vehicle traffic.
There are two technically challenging sections along the route: the single-track through Maston that has some chunk, about 3 miles, and the “pump and chunk” section that is later in the ride, about 5.5 miles in length. This section is slightly uphill with loose, some big chunk rock, and numerous 3 to 5-foot rollers. This section sees a lot of use by OHV’s.
For an option with less car traffic and a ratio of more gravel to pavement, start at the Maston Trail System parking lot on Newcomb Road.
Lat / Long: 44.210842, -121.301926
Have you ridden this route? Got a question? Join the discussion!