Bennett Pass

5 Star Route / Ridden and Reviewed by Gravel Girl & Captain ‘O

Here’s the short of it … we buzzed down the highway for 7 miles in the fray of the occasional truck or RV … then wiggled our way up and up on forest service roads (first paved, then gravel), passing by dispersed camping areas, and through lush forest.  When we reached a high meadow we thought, so foolishly, that we would be blasting back to the cars lickety-split

But that was when the fun really began … we weaved our way down and up and then down, down, down on tough rocky roads, the kind of roads that extreme jeepers love to brag about. There was mud, snow, steep descents, cliffs … but it was beautiful to find this secret road with BOOMING views of Mt Hood. It hardly seemed real ….that views of the mountain made every bumpy bit on the final stretch well worth it.

Today, the historic Bennett Pass Road is a bumpy, often grinding minefield to navigate. It’s hard to imagine that it was the main forest route when it was built, but it still passes some of the finest scenery in the area along the way. [WyEast Blog]

Ride Details
Miles 0 to 7 / Highway Downhill / Paved

From the parking area make your way onto Highway 35. The next 7 miles (~ 20 minutes ) are downhill, with an elevation loss of 1400 feet at an average gradient of 3%. There is a 6 foot shoulder with rumble strips up to where the highway crosses Hood River [mile 4.8]. Thereafter, there is a 3 foot shoulder with fog line. For this sector, we recommend the use of a red blinky light. **Click to Read More

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 27 miles / 3600 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 60% gravel, 40% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 45 minutes south of Hood River, Oregon
– Published: July 2020

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]

Advanced. Due to: (a) the extremely rugged Bennet Pass sector from mile 16 to mile 27, (b) the remote nature of part of the ride and, (c) limited cell phone reception.

When we like to ride this …

Non holiday, mid week, with an early start. (We really don’t like traffic!). Also, wait until after July 4th. There are some north facing slopes that hold snow into late June.

The Start

Bennett Pass sno-park. Pit toilets.
Lat / Long: 45.310204, -121.641737

Food / Water

None


Downloads

Wahoo / Garmin Direct Download
Cue Sheet / GPX file / TCX file

Legend

Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

Gravel Girl / Team Dirty Freehub

She loves a good day of gravel like most people like a good book. She’s always amused by the outdoors and the wild adventures. Gravel Girl is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Captain O / Team Dirty Freehub

He should have “Never Stop Exploring” tattooed on his chest! He loves adventures on bikes and is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

  • Nathan says:

    I just took this route today (maybe the last opportunity of the year!) and had a great ride. The downhills were 50% gravel and 50% ROCKS. Plan on it taking a bit longer than you think since it’s not possible to just coast through these rocky sections.

    The mountain air was crisp and the views were breathtaking. Towards the end of the ride you get a glimpse out over the plains of eastern Oregon. It’s just unreal. This route has some of the best views of Hood too – you really are up close under the behemoth.

    Around the top of the first climb I found two small streams trickling enough water to fill up, so bring a filter if you’ve got one! I had already gone through 40 oz on that first climb in 50 degree weather, so I definitely wouldn’t have made the full route without being able to top off.

    There are some alternate routes on the Gunsight Ridge trail I plan on taking next time. You will run into it a few times around the top of the second climb. I wasn’t sure if the trails would connect again, so I didn’t take it this time. Sure enough, they reconnect around mile 22 for the final time.

    While riding the gravel sections, I came across at least a dozen trucks and motorcyclists, all going very slowly. I actually followed some motorcycle riders down one of the last sections and kept up with them pretty well (until the next mini-hill!). All of the drivers were very nice and most even stopped to let me pass safely on the narrow double track.

    I recommend bringing a wind jacket and arm/leg warmers if you’re riding in the fall or early spring. The frigid winds come out of no where up there. One minute, I was riding with my jersey hanging wide open, sweating up a storm. Then I’d round a corner and get a blast of freezing mountain wind, causing me to pull over to put the thermal jersey back on. Do not underestimate the cold wind!!!

    • Nathan says:

      Oh, forgot to mention… I ride some fat 650bx42 Gravelking SK+ tires. I wouldn’t recommend riding this route with anything smaller due to the large sharp rocks on the downhill portions unless you plan on walking 3-4 miles worth of rocky portions.

      Some chunky mountain bike tires would have been perfect!

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Wow! Terrific comments. Thanks!!

  • Rolando says:

    What size tires do you recommend for this ride? Thanks!

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      In the ride notes, click on the Read More, we recommend a min of 40 mm, but my preference would be 50 mm due to the 7 miles of rugged jeep track. Gravel Girl did it on 40 mm with some effort as here other bike was in the shop. Ride dirty and smile!!

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Also, check the White River fire closures. The Bennett Pass portion of the route may still be closed.

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