Waltz to the Falls
Sherman’s Waltz - Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway
Imagine gravel riding along a sparkling, gin-clear river amongst ponderosa pines, vibrant spring wildflowers, and the pleasant sounds of songbirds whistling while they work. Then journey along hard-packed gravel roads that take you through remnants of the 2003 B&B Complex Fire and up to Round Lake to capture crystalline reflections of Three Fingered Jack. Gravel riding Sherman’s Waltz offers a whole lot to see and experience as you tour along the Metolius River, through Camp Sherman, and in the surrounding forest.
From the spring-fed headwaters of the Metolius that wondrously bubble up from underground to jaw dropping views of Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte, and Three Fingered Jack, this route has so much astounding Central Oregon scenery packed into one ride.
If you like some sweet and smooth hard-packed gravel, then this ride is definitely for you. With a bit of pavement, some easy-riding singletrack, and firm roads, you’ll get a dust-free ride as you climb and descend along Sherman’s Waltz. Expect to see other folks on this route, especially along the Metolius, as it’s a favorite among hikers and anglers.
In spring and early summer, get ready for smoother roads, blooming wildflowers, and snow-capped peaks. Later in the season, enjoy some extraordinary fall colors. This is a popular ride, with weekends being the busiest, so play hooky and head out on a weekday for less traffic.
Distance: 45 miles
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 3300 vertical feet
E-bike Friendly: No
Start Location: Head of the Metolius parking lot, about 50 minutes northwest of Bend
Surface: ~ 55% gravel road / double-track, 10% single-track, 35% paved road
First up, a quick section of gravel and easy singletrack followed by a stop at the Head of the Metolius. Then a moderate climb along the north shoulder of Black Butte followed by a ripping gravel descent to the paved road that leads south back towards Camp Sherman. At the U-turn, the route meanders briefly along the Metolius river and then crossing it, followed by a short section of gravel and a fun 3-mile section of single-track, slightly uphill. Climb up to Round Lake to enjoy the vast views of all the surrounding mountains. Then descend back down (ok this bit is always a little bumpy!). Then you can feel like a “hero” on the pavement and then begin the climb through the B&B Complex fire area along the southwest side of Mt. Jefferson. Descend, cross the Metolius River at Lower Bridge and then onto the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery (which is well worth a stop), followed by rolling up on pavement back to Camp Sherman.
Local’s Tip — The Camp Sherman store makes tasty sandwiches and has a vast snack selection that can be enjoyed in the outside seating area or riverside. Early birds will want to grab one of the house-made apple fritters for a sugar boost that leaves energy bars and gels in the dust.