Scenic Bikeways Showcase Central Oregon’s Backroad Beauty

Oregon’s official scenic bikeways are the first of their kind in the U.S – and Central Oregon is home to 6 of the state’s 11 most beautiful bike routes.

An absolute summer must for road cyclists are riding the best of the best – our scenic bikeways. Every rider can find a ride to suit their style and mood, from family friendly to adventurous.

CROOKED RIVER CANYON SCENIC BIKEWAY

Riders begin the 37 mile out-and-back journey in the historic community of Prineville. The bikeway follows the Crooked River south out of town, giving riders picturesque views of the surrounding llama farms and cattle ranches.

The route leaves the pastures behind as it enters the Crooked River Canyon. The road slips through the canyon’s towering basalt cliffs, gently curving and climbing to a scenic view near Palisades Campground before descending back toward the river. Riders will pedal by Chimney Rock Recreation Site, a popular picnicking spot and fun place to watch local anglers fly fish in the Crooked River.

The final stretch of the Crooked River Scenic Bikeway continues through the canyon and passes by several other day-use sites and campgrounds. Observant riders might spot resident wildlife like deer, great blue herons and golden eagles. The bikeway ends at Big Bend Campground, which has parking, restrooms, water and power.

TWIN BRIDGES SCENIC BIKEWAY

This 36-mile ride begins in Bends downtown Drake Park and follows an engaging, moderately hilly course past the city limits into farm and ranch country, rolling through rimrock canyons with views of snowcapped peaks. Cross the Deschutes River at Twin Bridges Road, and stop in the quaint town of Tumalo. Dip your feet in the cool, clear water, get lunch or sip a latte before powering home. With no extended climbs, it’s a great way to fill your lungs with mountain-fresh air and take in the sublime scenery.

 

SISTERS TO SMITH ROCK SCENIC BIKEWAY

This moderate 37-mile route weaves through Sisters Country to Smith Rock State Park’s impressive rock walls. The Crooked River winds at the base of the volcanic, multicolored formations towering above the valley floor. Watch rock climbers from all over the world tackle thousands of ascent routes. The varied, rolling terrain is generally downhill from Sisters. It is a perfect point-to-point ride if you leave a support vehicle in the public parking areas at each end.

 

MCKENZIE PASS SCENIC BIKEWAY

This challenging 37-mile route winds through deep forests, climbing to a volcanic lava-rock moonscape summit. This is likely the most interesting and beautiful scenery you’ll ever get on a bike ride. Stop at the Dee Wright Observatory, built from lava rock, and take in spectacular views of the Three Sisters mountains. A huge bonus: most of this ride is on Route 242 (on the U.S. Register of Historic Places), and it’s open to bicycles in spring.

 

METOLIUS RIVER LOOPS

These loops vary from short, family-friendly rides of about three miles, to a moderate, 24-mile ride if you connect several of the shorter loops. The loops begin and end at the 90-year-old Camp Sherman Store and Fly Shop. Travel along the wild and scenic waters of the Metolius River to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery where kids can feed the trout, kokanee and Atlantic salmon. Educational signs describe how the headwaters of the Metolius mark the marvelous beginning of the 28-mile river that flows through meadow and forest and careens through canyon walls before it empties into Lake Billy Chinook. Take in all hues of green in the spring and summer, or stunning reds, yellows, and oranges throughout the fall.

MADRAS MOUNTAIN VIEW SCENIC BIKEWAY

This 30-mile loop through high desert and basalt palisades provides sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains and almost no traffic. Begin and end in small, friendly downtown Madras. Pedal to the stunning overlook above Cove Palisades State Park and Lake Billy Chinook to glimpse eagles and other raptors soaring. Wind through the little towns of Culver and Metolius, stopping for refreshments along lightly trafficked roads. This area’s mild winters offer great year-round riding, with sun-drenched days extending throughout winter, spring, and fall.

 

Central Oregon Shines in Back-To-Back Outside Magazine Pieces

Seeing an Outside Magazine on the end table of a home in Bend is like seeing a Patagonia puffy jacket in the closet: Not surprising.

The award-winning adventure, sport, lifestyle and travel magazine reaches some 16 million people each month and focuses on everything we love about living in beautiful Central Oregon. But it still came as something of a surprise that two Central Oregon cities were so prominently featured in back to back issues of the magazine in 2017.

In July, Bend power couple and Picky Bars founders Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas were featured on the cover of Outside’s annual “Best Towns” issue while inside the city was lauded as the “Best Multi-Sport Town.”

But beyond the mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, golf and other activities available here, the story touched on the apres-adventure lifestyle.

“There’s a booming tech industry, an exploding food-cart scene, and a growing number of concerts—this year’s include Paul Simon and Ween. In short, Bend is the kind of place where you can do the nine-to-five job thing—and actually earn a living—then do the five-to-nine fun thing, no problem.”

Just one month later, nearly 10 pages of the August issue was devoted to the surging recreation and industry profile of Prineville, a former timber town-turned-technology hub that houses huge data centers for Apple and Facebook.

“From here one can, within a 30-minute drive, catch trout on the blue-ribbon Crooked River, climb at Smith Rock, mountain bike or backcountry ski in the Ochocos, or cycle buttery roads through High-Desert juniper.

The story, “How Big Data Saved the Mountain Town, dives into the conflicting perspective from the town’s locals – those who balk at the idea of the rural community turning into something it isn’t versus those who hope for the kind of growth that begets a thriving community and economy.

The secret of Prineville is quickly getting out thanks to stories like this and a new commitment to bicycle tourism spearheaded by the team at Visit Prineville and James Good, owner of Good Bike Co.

Good’s bike shop is an oasis for bikepackers pedaling the TransAmerica Bike Trail and for cyclists who flock to Prineville’s stellar mountain bike singletrack and scenic road rides.

Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway

Oregon’s newest scenic bikeway traverses the strikingly scenic high desert canyon of north Central Oregon, known as River Canyon Country.

Simply said, the new Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway is one of the best, rural, accessible road cycling loops available in Oregon. You’ll be stopping for one “awe moment” after another

Start in Maupin, on the banks of the Lower Deschutes River. Cross the historic 1929 bridge, ride through the heart of downtown Maupin and finish your three-mile climb with your first of many Mt. Hood views. Ride across Juniper Flat, a lava flow that came from the High Cascades six to 10 million years ago. See today’s dry-land wheat farming and beef cattle herds as well as the bygone era’s homestead cabins and windmills. Sagebrush and juniper offer you pungent smells while you hear the plentiful population of the Western Meadowlark singing their state song.

Exiting Juniper Flat on the north end, descend into the Tygh Valley. Historically, the Tygh people settled here. The White River flows off of Mt. Hood’s White River glacier on its 50-mile trip through the Tygh Valley to the Deschutes. Tygh Valley Road takes you through shady oak trees, along the White River’s banks with grey squirrels and wild turkeys drinking from its crystal waters.

Turn east and head down the valley toward the Deschutes River through hay fields where mule deer, rabbits and antelope play. White River Falls State Park, at mile 21.5, offers views of some very impressive waterfalls.

Coast down Chicken Spring Canyon and WOW..You have arrived at the majestic Sherar’s Falls on the mighty Deschutes River. Named for Joesph Sherar, a 19th-Century wagon road builder, the falls is a Native American fishing ground, still used today. Look for the wood fishing platforms and the three petroglyphs. Cross the river and turn your bike back south. The remaining nine miles back to Maupin are right along the river. Hear the roar of the rapids, listen to the silence of the flat water, watch an osprey or river otter dive for fish, count numerous blue herons, spy the green springs on the desert hillsides.

Finish the 33.5 miles on the riverbank where you parked your car and continue to let the nature of Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway soak into your soul.

The small vibrant town of Maupin serves as the bikeway’s start and finish, offering ideal pre- and post-ride amenities – a walkable downtown, friendly locals, restaurants, lodging and camping. The ride is best enjoyed in spring and fall and even on some winter days.

Central Oregon Vacation Tip: Leave Your Cycling Gear, Rent Some Here

Riding the Ochocos in Prineville/Travis Holman

While planning a vacation to Hawaii a few years ago, I did some research on renting a road bike for my stay. Figuring cycling was a big deal there, I thought I’d have plenty of shops and plenty of bikes to choose from. Nope. The selection was thin at best and I ended up with a rickety ride that put a damper on my trip.

Well, cycling is a HUGE deal in Central Oregon. That’s why Bend area bike shops carry huge fleets of top of the line bikes to rent. So leave your gear at home and visit, feeling confident you’re going to get in a great ride during your stay. Prices will vary depending on the type of bike you want and the length of time you want it – typically, the longer you keep it, the cheaper it gets.

Helmets and bike locks are usually included as well. (You can also visit and know you won’t have to ride alone. Most of the shop have weekly group rides that are perfect for visitors.) And be sure to ask about kids’ specific bikes, Burley trailers, tandems and other riding options for you and your family.

Here’s a few of the options available to you at some of the various rental shops in town. Just click on the links to see more about their fleets of amazing bikes.

Needs some ideas on trails? Click here.

The Hub Cyclery – Downtown Bend
Mountain Bikes: Felt
Cruiser Bikes: Civia

Hutch’s Bicycles – Bend and Redmond
Mountain Bikes: Specialized, Giant and Liv (Women’s)
Road Bikes: Specialized

Pine Mountain Sports – Bend
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz, Trek

Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours and Shuttles
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz

4 Seasons Recreational Outfitters – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz, Marin, Orbea, GT and Diamondback
They also carry cruiser and ellipticgo rentals.

Good Bike Co. – Prineville
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Surly
Road/Gravel Bikes: Cannondale, Surly
Cruisers: Electra Townies

Blazin Saddles – Sisters
Mountain Bikes: BMC, Devinci, Felt, Giant
Road Bikes: BMC

Blazin Saddles in Sisters

Sunriver Sports – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Specialized
Road Bikes:

Village Bike & Ski – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Cannondale
Road Bikes: Trek, Cannondale

MWS Sports – Bend
Mountain Bikes: Intense, KHS

10 Things Not to Miss in Central Oregon

Time and time again guests come into our Central Oregon Visitor Information Center in Sunriver and say, “We’re here for a few days. What should we do?”

And it’s always the toughest question we get.

With so much to do and see and experience in Central Oregon, it’s difficult to layout the perfect weekend itinerary for folks. But after we ask a few questions of them to get a better idea of what kind of things they like to do, we’re able to send them out the door with a smile and sense of adventure.

Here’s our list of the Top 10 things not to miss in Central Oregon.

Courtesy Elena Pressprich

1. Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne

One of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock is the birthplace of American sport climbing and a feast for the eyes. Take a hike along the Crooked River and marvel at the spires that rise from the canyon floor or trek up Misery Ridge for expansive views of the High Desert and Monkey Face.

Courtesy Elena Pressprich

2. Tumalo Falls

Just 10 miles from downtown Bend, Tumalo Falls is a majestic, nearly 100-foot waterfall that cascades into the tranquil Tumalo Creek below. Take a hike along the creek and up to the top of the falls for a cool view from above. The trail continues for four miles up Happy Valley; perfect for hikers of any age.

Crux Fermentation Project
Crux Fermentation Project, Bend

3. Grab a Beer

Bend is known for exceptionally clean water – and it’s perfect for making exceptionally good beer. Enjoy a pint at any of our nearly 30 brewpubs across the region or take a tour of Deschutes Brewery, the one that started the movement here. Want to learn to brew your own? Check out Immersion Brewing where you can create your own beer in about two hours.

Broken Top Club Golf Course Sunset

4. Play a Round

Central Oregon is home to nearly 30 golf courses including three in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses in America and half of Oregon’s Top 10 according to Golfweek. From the forest-lined fairways of Widgi Creek to the Scottish-links berms and knolls of Tetherow, you’ll find a hugely diverse selection of challenges courses to choose from.

Big Eddy Thriller

5. Get Wet

You can’t visit Central Oregon without playing in our wild and scenic Deschutes River. The options are plentiful including a leisurely float through Bend’s Old Mill District, a surf sesh at the Bend whitewater park, a kayak adventure at Sparks Lake or an adrenaline-pumping whitewater thrill ride with Sun County Tours on the Bid Eddy. Bring a swimsuit and have some fun.

No Name Lake at the base of Broken Top/Adam McKibben

6. High Mountain Hikes

Hundreds of miles of tranquil and scenic hiking trails are waiting for you to explore. Go up into the mountains along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and walk among the giant snow-capped peaks. Take a short hike with the kids around Todd Lake or venture higher up to the peak of majestic Broken Top. Or, closer to Bend and Sunriver, trek along the gently-rolling and beautiful Deschutes River Trail. For whatever adventure you’re looking for, there’s a trail for you.

7. Take a Ride

More than 400-miles of epic mountain bike singletrack can be found in Central Oregon, perfect for cyclists of all abilities and so close to town that you can ride to them straight from the shop you rented your bike from. Road cyclists can enjoy a handful of beautiful, well-marked scenic bikeways that showcase sights like McKenzie Pass and Smith Rock State Park.

8. Mt. Bachelor – Year Round Fun at 8,000 Feet

The 5th largest ski area in the U.S. is a year-round destination for fun and amazing views. Snow lovers can enjoy stellar skiing conditions from November through May – among the longest ski seasons in the country. Once the snow melts a little, Mt. Bachelor transforms into a downhill mountain bike Mecca with miles of adrenaline-pumping trails. Summer also means sunset dinners at nearly 9,000 feet – where the meals and views are equally as spectacular.

 

9. Explore a Lava Flow

Located on the north flank of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, what is now Lava Lands was created about 7,000 years ago after a volcanic explosion of Lava Butte. A miles-wide sea of jagged lava rock was left behind creating a unique geological landscape that served as that training ground for moon-bound astronauts.

Porcupine at a museum near Bend, Oregon

10. High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum has been inspiring families since 1982 and is consistently rated as a top Central Oregon attraction by Trip Advisor. With 135 acres and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, it’s a “must see” for anyone traveling through the area.

Get a close-up of native wildlife, such as an otter, bobcat, porcupine, and badger. Talk with historic characters who share the tales of early Oregon explorers and settlers. Visit an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904. Experience a close flying encounter with owls, falcons, hawks and even a vulture. Learn about Native American culture and history and delight your children with one of many fun, hands-on programs that bring history and science to life.

Pole, Pedal and Paddle Whenever You Want in Central Oregon

Every May in Bend some 3,100 people participate in the US Bank Pole, Pedal, Paddle multi-sport race. (And there’s still time to sign up for this year’s event, held on May 20th.)

The event starts with three legs at Mt. Bachelor – a short downhill ski, 8k Nordic race and 22-mile bike ride – before the 5-mile run, 1.5-mile kayak and half mile sprint legs back down in Bend. It’s become the signature athletic event for Bend – if you’re not participating, you know someone who is or someone who is part of the army of volunteers it takes to pull it off so smoothly. (The race is the main fundraiser for the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, which promotes and supports amateur alpine, cross country, snowboard, and cycling training for junior athletes.

The event showcases everything that is great about Central Oregon – and the perfect time of year when doing all of those things in one day is possible.

But you don’t have to be competing to take advantage of everything the PPP provides. You can pole, pedal and paddle almost whenever you want.

Mt. Bachelor nordic skiing

There’s still tons of great powder up at Mt. Bachelor for some spring skiing. Or you can head over to the Nordic center for some great cross country skiing (and, many locals will tell you, the best burritos in Bend!) The ski area is expected to be open through May – extending one of the longest ski seasons in the country.

But come summer, when the snow’s gone you can just replace the “ski pole” with a different kind of pole…a fishing pole. Let the guides at Stillwater Fly Shop in Sunriver take you to one of their secret spots or go rent some gear at The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters and venture out on your own.

Once the snow melts enough, the road to Mt. Bachelor – also known as the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway – is a great place for a long road ride, but there are plenty of other scenic bikeway options for you in Central Oregon.  (McKenzie Pass early in the season is open only to cyclists, which is a great time to check out one of the most scenic rides in the state!) Or, you can turn it up a notch and hit some of the Central Oregon mountain bike trails nearby. Pine Mountain Sports, The Hub Cyclery and Hutch’s are a couple of great spots to rent bikes if you need them – or, if your legs are a little tired take a guided Bend brewery tour with Let it Ride Electric Bikes.

Pacific Crest Triathlon

If you’re not quite ready to kick off the race season in May, no problem. In June, Sunriver Resort hosts Central Oregon’s largest athletic event, the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival.

More than 5,000 athletes, their family and friends, converge on majestic Central Oregon to take part in what is known as the jewel of multisport events in the Northwest. It has become a traditional destination race for athletes from across the nation, as well as from across the globe. Coupled with a finishing in a five-star destination resort, it is the perfect family vacation destination.

There is a race for absolutely everyone from the Long Course Tri/Du/Aquabike, Olympic Tri/Du/AquaBike, Ulta-Sprint Tri/Du/AquaBike, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, 26 and 55 mile Tour de Crest, Kids Tri and Kids ½ mile and 1-mile dashes.

Pacific Crest Swim

If running is your thing, you’re in luck. It’s Central Oregon’s thing too. With more than 65 miles of maintained trails just in Bend alone, you can find a running route to fit your needs whether it’s pavement, track or dirt – including the very scenic Deschutes River Trail (which is part of the PPP course.)

And while it’s not yet hot in Central Oregon, it’s warm enough to take advantage of all the water sport activities the region has to offer. Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe is located right on the river so it’s easy to rent some gear to get your paddle boarding muscles in shape for when high lakes open up this summer.

Sun Country Tours, stand up paddling

You can also create your own multi-sport event to impress all your friends. Click here for a look at what we like to call the “Central Oregon 6-pack.”

Whatever you decide to do, just get out, explore and have fun!

Life’s not about being timed.

Central Oregon Waterfalls – Tumalo Falls by Fat Bike

Tumalo Falls is one of Central Oregon’s most spectacular natural features. The 97-foot falls of Tumalo Creek is a popular and easily-accessible spot for visitors and locals alike looking for a scenic spot and gentle hike.

But it’s also a sight-to-see come winter when the falls sometimes freezes over, creating an even more amazing landscape. Getting there in the winter, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Enter fat bikes! Fat biking is the latest outdoor activity to take Central Oregon by storm. The huge mountain bike tires are built for snow and sand and make riding a bike in the winter not only doable, but downright enjoyable. (And when you’re a mountain bike Mecca like Central Oregon, folks will try anything to keep riding year-round.)

Follow along as My Window’s Mackenzie Wilson gets some fat biking advice and heads out on the trail with The Hub Cyclery owner TJ Jordan.

Interested in giving fat biking a try? You can rent the burly bikes at a handful of local bike shops including The Hub Cyclery, Pine Mountain Sports, and Hutch’s Bicycles.

 

Cycling Snow Play: Ride Central Oregon’s Groomed Fat Bike Trails

Think about the experiences in your life that had you smiling from start to finish. The kind of smile that’s equal “I can’t believe I’m doing this” and “this is so cool.” I can only think of a a few – and it includes fat biking Central Oregon’s new groomed fat bike trail system.

I should have expected as much. The Hub Cyclery owner TJ Jordan did a fat biking blog post for us here last year saying just that – that it was impossible to fat bike without smiling. And while I expected the adventure to be fun. I didn’t expect it to be this fun. 

Central Oregon is a destination for mountain bikers with more than 300 miles of world-class singletrack from Sisters to Prineville, Sunriver to Bend to Redmond. Even during the winter, many places are warm and dry enough for cyclists to take advantage of the trails. (In fact, some of the riding – like Smith Rock State Park – is much better during the winter months.)

But when the snow flies at higher elevations, most people want to get out and play in it. And for years, cyclists have been forced to hang up the bike and step into their skis for a little fun in the powder. Not any longer. Fat biking has become the newest – and maybe most fun – way to experience Central Oregon in the winter.

TJ FAT BIKING

TJ and I headed out to the Wanoga Sno-Park on a sunny and mild Monday morning and were greeted by just a few cars in the parking lot and some Nordic skiers getting ready to head out. With a huge warming hut, toilets and a massive sledding hill, Wanoga is a really great place to visit in the winter. It’s located just a few miles outside of Bend on the road up to Mt. Bachelor.

The fat bike trails begin on the Nordic trails and quickly merge with the snowshoe trails for a bit before heading into an opening where the fat bike loops begin. There’s a short, 3-mile loop and a longer loop of about 5 miles. The two begin and end at the same spot so they can be combined for a very fun 8-mile loop with about 310 feet of elevation gain.

Fat Biking Wanoga Sno-Park near Bend, Oregon

I pictured fat biking on the wide Nordic trails and having more of a beach cruise type of ride. Fun, but meandering and not a replacement for a nice mountain bike ride. The groomed fat bike trails threw that picture out the window. The trail is groomed 24″ wide and is as singletrack as it can be for fat bikes – wider tires need a wider track and you need to be able to pedal with hitting the snow on each stroke. Once we headed out on the trail, it definitely had a mountain bike vibe to it as we veered in and out of the trees.

Why Fat Bike?
* If you can ride a bike, you can fat bike.
* Snow is softer than rocks, so crashing isn’t all that bad.
* It’s faster than snowshoeing or Nordic skiing so you can still get that nice adrenaline rush you’d expect from mountain biking.
* Rentals are the same price or even cheaper than nordic ski rentals.
* More tips on fat biking in Central Oregon from our friends at BendTrails.org.

The short loop is mostly flat with a couple of spots where you can really pick up some speed. In some spots, I couldn’t help but think this is what it must be like to be in a bobsled or luge. We passed a couple of riders at the beginning of the trail and saw three others at the loop intersection.

TJ and I did the two loops in about 70 minutes and we stopped several times to take pictures and video. You could easily do the two loops in under an hour.

IMG_3275

“It’s been a great to see our fat bike community grow even more this year with the addition of the Wanoga fat bike Trails,” TJ said. “The trails are easy enough for the first timer but can also be enjoyed by the experts. And lately I’ve been seeing equally men and women using the trails. Also, the trails have gained so much popularity, folks from out of town have been visiting Bend just to ride the fat bike trails.”

Where to Rent:

The Hub Cyclery
Hutch’s Bicycles
Pine Mountain Sports
Sunriver Sports

For now, the new groomed trails at Wanoga are temporary as the Forest Service assesses the trail use by fat bikers and the relationship with other sno-park users. Fat biking is definitely here to stay, whether it’s on fat-bike specific groomers or on the massive Nordic and snowshoe trail system around the region. Here’s hoping the trail becomes (the beginning of) a permanent fixture in the Central Oregon sno-park scene.

If you’re looking for a guided experience, Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours and Shuttles offers a cool 3-hour tour up into the mountains. 

Ride Description (courtesy BendTrails.Org)

Please Follow These Wanoga Fat Bike Trail Guidelines:

  • Weekends and Holidays – park in the upper Wanoga snowmobile parking lot and ride down to the lower Sno-Play area. For now ride the road, between the upper and lower parking lots, we will soon be putting in a trail.
  • We share the ski and snowshoe trailhead on the north side of parking lot.
  • Please fill out the trail registrar. We want to show the Forest Service that this something we would like to keep doing and expand.
  • Take the snowshoe loop. PLEASE stay off the ski loops.
  • Important: TIRE PRESSURE – based on current conditions use 4 PSI. Your sidewalls should wrinkle like a funny-car tire.
  • If your leaving ruts its too soft to ride.

After about 1/2 mile after you leave Wanoga Sno-Park, when you reach the tree with the two signs, this is where the long and short loops split. This is the same place where Tiddlywinks crosses NF-4614.

For more on the Wanoga Trail System and mountain biking in Central Oregon, be sure to visit bendtrails.org. It’s a comprehensive database of maps, blogs and more showcasing the amazing Central Oregon mountain biking scene.

 

Winter Cycling in Central Oregon – Bust Out the Fat Bike

zach - fat biking

When the snow starts to fly in Central Oregon, cyclists rejoice. No, not because they’re looking forward to some time off after a spring, summer and fall shredding the trails. They’re stoked because winter means fat bike season and some of the best riding of the year.

Fat Bikes are the next “big thing” in cycling – in fact, some folks are riding fat bikes or “plus sized” bikes year round. They’re comfy, they can tackle any terrain and quite honestly, they look kind of bad-ass.

Salem Statesman Journal outdoor writer Zach Urness headed out for a ride last year in the snowy Central Oregon backcountry and had a blast.

“The best part of riding on snow, at least when the snow is groomed or packed down, is that it feels pretty much like riding on pavement, gravel, or dirt. Four-inch-wide tires make the ride feel almost soft, as though you’re floating on pillows.”

You can read his essay in full here from our content partner the Outdoor Project.

Interested in giving fat biking a try? Stop by The Hub Cyclery in Downtown Bend and talk to the owner TJ. He’s a fat bike enthusiast and can get you hooked up with a bike and some great spots to ride. You can also find rentals and expertise at Pine Mountain Sports and Hutch’s Bicycles in Bend and Redmond.

Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours and Shuttles is also a great place to turn for winter fat biking. Their guides started offering fat bike tours last winter and they were a hit. Even more tour options are expected in 2015/2016.

hub fat bike

outdoor project image

Favorite Year-Round Mountain Bike Spots

When winter comes and the snow falls, some of Central Oregon’s popular mountain biking trails become a little too muddy to ride – which means some of the unheralded spots in the region get a little more love. Places like Smith Rock can get scorching hot (and quite crowded) in the summer making it a great spot to head come winter. Want some good locals tips on where to ride? Ask the folks at Hutch’s Bicycles, Pine Mountain Sports or The Hub Cyclery for the 4-1-1, or set up a tour with Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours and Shuttles. 

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock/Gray Butte

22 Miles from Bend in Terrebonne | Technically Intermediate/aerobically strenuous | Distances vary but expect about 12 miles

This might be one of the more scenic rides in Central Oregon and it’s best ridden in the fall when temps are much cooler and the dirt is a little tackier. You’ll need a $5 Oregon State Parks pass to park in Smith Rock’s lots. You can do this ride in both directions, but it’s best to do the Burma Trail Loop at Smith Rock counterclockwise. For more loops in the area and and to read a full trail report read this story from The Bulletin. 

You can also read more on mountain biking Smith Rock and see what the views look like in this video.

Horse Butte

9 miles SE of Bend | Technically intermediate/moderately aerobic | 12 to 30-mile loops

This is a very popular go-to ride for locals during the winter due to its proximity to town and perfect dirt conditions. It’s roughy 9 miles from the center of town to the trailhead but once you’re out on the trail you will feel a world away. Expansive views of the area dominate this trail that runs through sagebrush and lava rocks. Don’t forget to stop and check out the Arnold Ice Cave during your ride! To see a video and read a full trail report, read this story from The Bulletin. 

Horse Ridge

15 miles east of Bend off HWY 20 | Technically advanced/moderately aerobic | 10 to 15 mile-loops and out and backs

Another go-to spot for winter riding in the winter, Horse Ridge is for riders with a little more experience on rocky terrain. The lava rocks here can be unforgiving, but the singletrack is well worth the adventure. Expect more expansive views of the area from Horse Ridge. To read a full trail report, read this story from The Bulletin.

The Radlands

Redmond |Technically intermediate to advanced/aerobically easy to moderate | 10 miles of trails (more being built each season)

This is another somewhat rugged network of trails, but it’s a great place to ride in the winter because it rarely sees snow. Riders laud the variety of the trails out here – you’ll experience smooth singletrack and jagged lava rock outcroppings. Go prepared – it’s always better to think you’re going to flat than to flat and not have the tools to fix it. For a full trail report, read this story from The Bulletin.
You can read more on year-round trails in this story from The Bulletin.