Ridden and Reviewed by: Gravel Girl
Expansive. Remote. Scenic. Big. Demanding. And Historic …Crickets. Just you and the crickets is what you expect to find on this ride. Along with the abandoned Donnybrook school house (built in 1914), a scenic canyon, big views of the mountains, and the abandoned town of Ashwood.
The Details: This is a real gravel ride where you will want a real gravel bike. You know, something that kind of looks like a road bike with 40 mm tires and disc brakes. At times you will wish for more “road” bike, at times you will wish for more “mountain bike.”
From the start, the climbing begins — 2000 feet in 11 miles, 800 feet in the first 3 miles. At the 3 mile mark, you enter a scenic “canyon” that lasts for several miles. By mile 10 you have climbed 2000 feet with big, expansive views. Also, at this point, you will get a bit of reward by descending 800 ft in 2.5 miles.
At mile 15, just after Ashwood, the gravel begins …. and more climbing….and more big, open views. The gravel is good, firm and small. Not too much washboard. But the climbing can be steep, up to 8 % grades. By mile 21, you have climbed 3000 ft and the gravel road turns to something like cobblestone – softball sized rocks embedded into a clay base to give a firm, but bumpy road surface.
At the Wasco county line (mile 28), the “cobblestone” gravel ends and the gravel becomes loose and thick. Luckily this section is mostly downhill. Just when you are about to “cry uncle” the gravel ends and the pavement begins. 20 miles of good pavement with an elevation loss of 1600 feet. Yes, there a couple of small “kickers” left and a lot of great views!
A couple of words of advice: (1) do this ride on a sunny day with light winds and (2) the last 2 miles of the ride are on US 97, ride single file. There is a good shoulder and the traffic is less than you will expect.
For more information on the area check out this link.
**Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 54 miles / 4400 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (1 gravel sector, 19 miles total)**
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Location: ~ 15 minutes northeast of Madras, OR
– Date Posted: October 2017
Advanced. Due to distance, elevation gain, grades of climbing in excess of 8% and the technical demands of the gravel sector.
At the intersection of US 97 and Northeast Pony Butte road. On the east side of US 97 is a gravel lot.
**Food / Water
**GPX Track File
Click to download.
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
For more detailed information, click “View Full Version” in upper left of a graphic.