Crickets. Just you and the crickets are what you expect to find on this ride. Along with the abandoned Donnybrook schoolhouse (built in 1914), a scenic canyon, big views of the mountains, and the abandoned town of Ashwood.
On a sunny day with light winds.
A gravel lot on the east side of US 97 at the intersection with Pony Butte road.
Lat / Long: 44.784868, -120.960596
From the start, the climbing begins — 2000 feet in 11 miles, 800 feet in the first 3 miles. At the 3-mile mark, you enter a scenic “canyon” that lasts for several miles. By mile 10, you have climbed 2000 feet with big, expansive views. Also, at this point, you will get a bit of reward by descending 800 ft in 2.5 miles.
At mile 15, just after Ashwood, the gravel begins …. and more climbing….and more big, open views. The gravel is good, firm and small. Not too much washboard. But the climbing can be steep, up to 8% gradients. By mile 21, you have climbed 3000 ft, and the gravel road turns to something like cobblestone – softball-sized rocks embedded into a clay base to give a firm but bumpy road surface.
At the Wasco county line (mile 28), the “cobblestone” gravel ends, and the gravel becomes loose and thick. Luckily this section is mostly downhill. Just when you are about to “cry uncle” the gravel ends and the pavement begins. 20 miles of good pavement with an elevation loss of 1600 feet. Yes, there are a couple of small “kickers” left and a lot of great views!
As your riding, to your left. Priday Ranch is a 4,660-acre Preserve on Trout Creek. The Ranch protects ten miles of Trout Creek, Antelope Creek, and Ward Creek, rugged canyons, and native grasslands. The property is home to numerous wildlife species, including steelhead, nesting golden eagles, mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, and beaver. (Click image for expanded view.) [Deschutes Land Trust]
We recommend a red blink light with rear looking radar detector like a Garmin Varia, especially for the last several miles along the highway. Use caution!
The technical difficulty (i.e. riding skill needed) for this route is easier. The gravel roads are usually in good shape, hard-packed and smooth. But … that doesn’t mean the ride is easy. Take a careful look at the mileage and gain. It is a climber’s route!