Big Summit Prairie

5 Star Route

Home, home on the range, where the mustangs and the antelope play.

That’s the tune you will be singing by this classic wild west ride. The route circumnavigates the Big Summit Prairie, a beautiful prairie deep within the Ochoco National Forest. This ride is best in late spring / early summer when the flowers are in full bloom, the grasses are green, the creeks are running full, and the antelope are perky. And if you haven’t been to the Ochoco National Forest, it’s just a gravel cyclist dream. Empty roads with beautiful views.  

Big Summit Prairie, is a U.S. Forest Service designated wildflower viewing area, with more than a hundred species of native plants, including the rare Peck’s Mariposa lily. The Audubon Society recognizes Big Summit Prairie as an important birding location, with sandhill cranes, woodpeckers, and other pine-loving bird species. A number of butterfly species frequent the Prairie during the summer, including the silver-bordered meadow fritillary butterfly, known from only three Oregon locations. Mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and Rocky Mountain elk are commonly seen in the area as well. [The Oregon Encyclopedia]

The ride is “not too easy, not too difficult”. In looking at the elevation profile you will see 3 distinct climbs, the first and third on pavement. The first climbs is the longest at 1500 feet over 8 miles. The gravel sector has 1 climb and 2 moderate descents. **Read More

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 48 miles / 3800 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 45% gravel, 55% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 1 hour, 20 minutes east of Bend, Oregon
– Published: May 2014 (updated May 2020)

Difficulty

Moderate

When we like to ride this …

Mid spring through mid summer when the creeks are flowing, the wetlands are full of water and the flowers are in full bloom.

The Start

24 miles east of Prineville at the “old” Ochoco ranger station parking lot. Water available via yard hydrant,between parking lot and road. Pit toilets.
Lat / Long: 44.396245, -120.425960

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.

  • DeWayne Weaver says:

    We rode an even shorter 30 mile loop around the prairie May 23 on our tandem. So much water and so many blooms! Mosquitoes found us pretty quickly when we stopped. I wouldn’t do it memorial day weekend again. Too many vehicles and dust.

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