Too many times, we have buzzed through Madras without realizing...
Big Red - Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway
This Ride is Easy Like Sunday Morning
This gravel ride is a scenic loop through LaPine state park with a visit to the largest Ponderosa tree in the state. It is highly scenic, with great river views. A very safe route with low probability of getting lost in the woods.
In La Pine State Park, Big Red is the name of Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine tree. He’s an old guy, over 500 years old, and he earns his name by topping off at 162 feet tall and 28.9 feet around.
Big Red isn’t the only reason to do this ride: There’s also a visit to the lovely Fall River Falls and miles and miles of gently rolling single track trails along the Deschutes and Fall Rivers in La Pine State Park. Most of the ride is wonderfully shaded and the trails are mainly smooth and packed down.
There’s almost nobody on these trails; mainly fly fishers who pride themselves on their secret fishing spots and hikers who are camping at the park. But you will see birds of prey: hawks, osprey, and even owls.
Distance: 17 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 vertical feet
Surface: ~ 65% gravel road / double-track / single-track, 35% paved road
This route starts off by heading east on South Century Drive for 1.5 miles. This will be the busiest road of the day, but it has a wide shoulder. Make a right onto Foster road, the main access road to a local neighborhood. It is paved for 2 miles, then gravel.
At mile 5.5 make a right, followed by a quick left. In 500 feet you enter into LaPine State park and are on your quest to find Big Red! From here until mile 14.4 the trail will vary between old dirt road, double track, and wide single track. It will twist, it will turn. A little up, a little down.
At mile 7 you go past Dead Slough. This was an arching bend in the river, but at some time, the river forged a new, straighter channel bypassing the bend. Thus, the slough. Just after this, cross the Deschutes River on State Park road (paved) and the dive back into the woods and follow the river for another 2 miles.
Loop back north and east and touch the Deschutes river three more times, until at mile 12 you pick up the Fall River (which flows into the Deschutes River). Take a break at mile 13.2, Fall River Falls.
From here, there is a wee bit more riding along the river, then a traverse through the woods until you come to a green gate (an emergency fire road exit) that you will need to shimmy under or around. Ride the rolling paved neighborhood road back into the start / finish. About 2.4 miles.
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