Big Mack

Development Route

A scenic loop highlighting the diversity of Oregon’s outback lands :

  • Miles 0 to 60. Classic Central Oregon high desert with rolling hills, few trees, and views for miles. The riding is fast and relatively easy.
  • Miles 60 to Finish: Follow a dirt road / trail along an old railroad grade just above the Lower Deschutes river. Much of the river is classified as Wild & Scenic. The riding is rugged, demanding and at times very slow.

(Warning: This is a route that should only be taken on by very experienced riders who are completely self sufficient. Rescue along certain portions of this route would be lengthy and difficult.)

This is a loop that we happened upon while riding and documenting Macks Canyon. The guys at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) have ridden and written about miles 49 to 71. The unknown is miles 13 to 46. We know that this section “goes”, just not sure of the quality this section. Thus, the Development Route tag.

At approximately mile 48, there is water and camping at the Deschutes River State Recreation area.

We have mapped the route in the counterclockwise (CCW) direction. In this direction, the river views and more demanding trail come later in the route. We know that the single track section from mile 67 to 71 involves a significant amount of hike a bike. See the comment below. It is a very slow go.

For a longer option (i.e. bikepacking), consider starting in Maupin, and riding to the start via the Lower Deschutes / BLM Access road on the east side of the Deschutes River. The road is paved, very scenic, and with little traffic. This will add about 20 miles and very little elevation gain.

Based on the guidance of OMTM above, and our riding experience in the area, we would highly recommend a tubeless tire set up, 50 mm+, with CushCore inserts. This setup is nearly bomb proof, especially when goat head stickers are involved.

It would be great if someone would take this route on as a project and work with the county / BLM / City of Maupin to improve the 4 miles of hike-a-bike. Any takers??

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Loop: 88 miles / 6400 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 70% gravel, 5 % Single Track, 25% paved
eBike Friendly: No
– Location: ~ 10 min north of Maupin, Oregon
– Published: April 2019

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]

Advanced. Due to: (a) 4 miles of difficult hike-a-bike, (b) the remote nature and difficult access to part of the ride and, (c) limited cell phone reception.

Advanced. Due to distance and elevation gain and the unknown nature of parts of the route.

The Start

At the intersection of Sherar’s Bridge highway and the BLM access road, north of Maupin by ~ 10 miles. Park on the shoulder of the road.
Lat / Long:  45.263609, -121.023912


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


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.

  • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

    Brent – thanks for the comment and the feedback! I have updated the description to reflect your thoughts. Always appreciate the comments on the site.

    Here’s a bit more from Brent:
    “Hi Kevin, (1) The washboarded road did have good lines on the very edges and was manageable, but it’s pretty soft on the side and you need to be alert. It’s difficult when you’re tired and finishing up the route. The gravel roads you encounter during the first 48 miles are in fantastic shape. (2) I can send you some pictures, or you can use what I posted here, but I didn’t take any pictures of the more difficult sections. There is a picture of Kinsey hiking down one of the ravine crossings (the old rail route had about 6 timber bridges that crossed some medium ravines, however the bridges are now gone, so you do lots of scrambling). (3) As for tire size, 38-40mm would be the minimum recommendation, and larger would help during a few sections of single track segment, but I wouldn’t change my tires just to do this ride. The last 2 miles of the hike a bike section had more hiking involved and a couple more substantial ravine crossings. You cross several barbed wire fences (in place to keep you away from some dangerous rock fall sections of the old rail bed) and at some points you question if it’s even an actual trail…but it is and you just press on. All in all it was a pretty route and the views on the first half are fantastic. The lower deschutes section has pretty canyon views and it’s fun to ride along the old rail bed, but it the difficult single track and hiking segments turned would we thought would take about 5-6hrs into 8hrs. I could see this route taking over 10hrs of riding/hiking for a more novice rider.”

  • Brent Mattison says:

    You guys do a great job with this website and it’s my go-to for fun new routes. Although this route it’s very scenic, this loop is downright dangerous. I’m a very experienced cyclist (top 5 at the High Cascade 100 MTB race), and this is a loop I would never encourage anyone to try. The hike a’ bike section from 68 to 71 is not fun and dangerous. Much of the section along the River is very slow going and not in a fun way. We had a water filter and this saved us because you will run out of water (we had camelbacks and bottles). Anyone with less experience and underprepared would find themselves in a desperate situation. Pretty views though.

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