This area is winter migration habitat (December 1 to March 31) for mule deer and elk. Please limit your group size to 4 or less.
A simple out-and-back route that is a great cold weather ride. Not much climbing, but a lot of spinning to keep you warm.
What do you get for your efforts? Big views of the Cascade Mountains, some interesting and infamous history with the Tumalo Reservoir project and a mix of gravel and dirt roads and a bit of sweet riding Peterson Ridge single-track. Ohh! Did we mention the coffee house stop in Sisters?
Spring and Fall when the weather is cooler and you’re looking for a ride without a lot of climbing. Summer can be busy and dusty.
A dirt, make-shift parking lot (to your left) just before crossing over the old Tumalo Reservoir bridge.
Lat / Long: 44.137840, -121.414582
The riding is a mix of champagne gravel (very expensive champagne), rugged gravel, single-track (rated mountain bike easy) and two short sections of pavement. The rugged gravel sector is at ~ mile 10 and 21, it is about a mile in length.
The terrain is rolling high desert with a mix of sagebrush and Juniper trees. Throughout much of the ride there are big mountain views of The Sisters. As you get closer to the town of Sisters, you will happen upon more and more Ponderosa trees.
The Bull Creek Dam, a component of the failed Tumalo Irrigation Project, was constructed in 1914 to form a water storage reservoir to increase the amount of irrigated acreage at Tumalo. Today, it is the oldest bridge in Deschutes County.
Bull Flat, to the left on the ride out, is home to a small, rare plant called Peck’s milkvetch. This is a nitrogen-fixing plant that grows on and nourishes pumic-rich soils. It exists in only 3 places in the world, here and in Crook and Klamath Counties. It is listed as a threatened species.
In the early 20th century, Portland business man William Laidlaw promised hundreds of settlers in Deschutes County that he could irrigate the land around Bend using funds from the Federal Carey Act. Laidlaw failed to uphold his promise and left the area with today’s equivalent of a few million dollars. The state then stepped in and tried to build a reservoir to help irrigate the land in what is now known as Tumalo. The state was never able to successfully irrigate the land promised by Laidlaw, leaving hundreds of settlers without farmable land. [CSPAN]
The forerunner of Sisters was Camp Polk, a short-lived military camp (from September 1865-May 1866) along the Whychus Creek about three miles northeast of present-day Sisters. The camp was to protect miners and settlers in the region but never engaged in battle. Following the abandonment of the camp, the site was homesteaded in 1870 with a store and post office. In 1888 the post office was relocated to present day Sisters. At the intersection of the McKenzie and Santiam roads, Sisters soon grew to become a bustling little town and supply station for sheepmen who grazed their sheep in the Cascades. [Sisters Country]
Much of this route is at the eastern edge of the winter habitat for mule deer. The mule deer population peaked in the 1970s and since has fallen decreased by 40 to 60% due to the severe winters and dry summers of the 1980s and 1990s, increasing predators like coyotes and cougars, and the disturbance from OHV trails and cross-country travel. [On-site kiosk]
We recommend a red blinky light with a rear-looking radar detector like a Garmin Varia for Sisemore road and the paved sectors.
If out and backs are not your thing, give a look to In Plainview (Short), it is a loop that covers much of the same area. However, from Dec 1 to March 31, we encourage you to ride this route instead of In Plainview due to encroaching on mule and elk winter range habitat.