Spend enough time around Central Oregon, and you’ll quickly notice just how deep the region’s love affair with pedal-powered transit runs: Protected bike paths parallel roadways, scenic bikeways showcase Central Oregon’s natural beauty, and more than 300 miles of mountain bike trails twist and turn through our lush forests.
With so much to see around Central Oregon, there may be no finer way to soak in the richness of the region than from the saddle of a bicycle or mountain bike. Here’s a guide to the best biking around Bend and beyond—top road rides, great mountain biking along the McKenzie River Trail, and gravel cycling routes throughout Central Oregon.
Road Biking in Central Oregon
Want to hit the open road in Central Oregon? With protected paths, quiet highways, and Oregon Scenic Bikeways alike, road biking is a popular pastime all year long around Central Oregon.
To help get you started, check out our page on road biking in Central Oregon—where we’ve rounded up some of our favorite routes and rides all over the region, offered a taste of what you’ll see from the saddle, and provided a few tips and resources to help you get started.
Mountain Biking in Central Oregon
In all, more than 300 miles of single-track trail cover the forests of Central Oregon. To put that in perspective: If those trails were placed end-to-end in a north-south manner, they’d run the entire length of Oregon. With so much terrain to cover, it can be tough to narrow down your next ride.
Fortunately, our comprehensive page on mountain biking in Central Oregon helps you get started. We’ve compiled some epic rides around Bend, Sunriver, Sisters, and more—along with resources for rentals, tips to get started, shuttle services, tour operators, and more.
Gravel Biking in Central Oregon
In recent years, gravel riding in Central Oregon has become a popular alternative to mountain biking and road cycling. If you’re not familiar, most gravel rides begin on quiet paved roads before moving to even-less-traveled gravel roads—though terrain can vary considerably from ride to ride. As interest in gravel riding has grown, companies have developed gravel-specific bikes that boast a specialized build, unique gearing, and other features designed for the rocky landscape. You don’t need a gravel-specific bike to get started, though, and plenty of backroads around Bend and Central Oregon offer excellent gravel riding opportunities.
Bonanza ride: The 51-mile Bonanza route is about 45 minutes west of Bend, but it offers some of the best gravel riding anywhere in Central Oregon. Almost every inch of this ride follows old gravel roads as it heads into the heart of Central Oregon’s high desert—passing tumbleweeds, cattle ranches, historic markers, 1800s-era homesteads, and other fascinating sites along the way. Given the lack of shade on this ride, it’s best done in spring.
Path of Totality: Seasoned riders love the 41-mile Path of Totality route near Madras, which offers a little of everything that makes Central Oregon’s high desert so beautiful: a ride along Lake Simtustus, ascents through rocky canyons, views of Lake Billy Chinook from its rugged rim, and more.
Water and Lava: Not far from Bend, the Water and Lava route appeals to beginners with just 1,500 feet of elevation gain along 30 scenic miles. The path, which features a mix of gravel roads and singletrack, follows the Deschutes River before ascending to the top of Lava Butte and heading to the scenic Benham Falls.
What to Know About Biking in Central Oregon
Before hopping in the saddle, you’ll want to know the rules of the road. Here’s how to have a safe, fun bike ride around Bend and Central Oregon.
Rentals: If you didn’t bring your own bike to Central Oregon, we’ve got you covered. Rentals are available all over the region; you’ll find fat tire bikes, e-bikes, gravel bikes, and more from Hutch’s Bicycles in Bend; road bikes and mountain bikes at Blazin Saddles and Eurosports, both in Sisters; and mountain bikes, road bikes, and e-bikes at Village Bike and Ski in Sunriver.
Bike tours: If you want someone to show you the ropes, plenty of outfitters offer guided bike tours in Central Oregon. These knowledgeable guides have been riding the region’s roads and trails for years and can show off the region’s varied terrain, take you to their favorite spots, and help you enjoy a memorable experience. Good Bike Co., for instance, is based in Prineville—and puts together custom tours that cyclists make the most of their time on the road; a friendly cycling enthusiast is happy to help with route planning, logistics, gear sales and rentals, and other services as part of the tour.
Helmets: All riders 15 and younger must wear an approved helmet while riding public paths or roadways in Oregon—so while adults don’t have to wear a helmet, we’d strongly recommend it. If you’re grabbing a bike while in Central Oregon, rentals generally include helmets.
Roundabouts: In the likes of Bend, Sisters, and Redmond, you may encounter roundabouts while road riding. If you’re new to cycling, there’s no shame in taking the crosswalk; if you’re a veteran rider, however, you can take the lane, since bikes are considered vehicles under Oregon law. (Just look to your left as you enter a roundabout to make sure no vehicles are approaching, always ride in a counterclockwise manner in the middle of the lane before exiting, and be sure to signal as you leave the roundabout.)
Heads-up: Cell phone coverage can be spotty in Central Oregon, especially as you ride the roads and trails far from our cities and communities. Give someone a heads-up about where you’re going and when you expect to be back, just to be on the safe side.
Water: Even in spring, Central Oregon can heat up quickly—and many of our most popular rides don’t have much shade. So bring plenty of water, and stop often to stay hydrated or refill your water bottle.
Explore Nature’s Beauty
From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.