GravelCracker 60

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

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The Gravel Cracker routes (60 and 80) were created as a route to get cyclists off busy roads during the 4th of July holidays. I think you will agree that we are all much safer riding these gravel roads.

The Sisters / Camp Sherman area is one of the most diverse and scenic areas to ride in Central Oregon…and one of the most beautiful! This ride is a true favorite.

The ride begins with a ~ 8-mile paved section with big views of the Three Sisters mountains, then, the real riding begins.  The first off pavement section is a wooded traverse of the shoulder of Black Butte.  This section will have a bit of “old school” feel to it.

Next up, a quick stop at the Head of the Metolius followed by a single track section meandering next to the Metolius River. Relax for a moment and then begin the single track section leading to the base of the climb up to Round Lake. The climb to Round Lake feels steeper and longer than it actually is. Stop at the lake to cool off and take in the great views.

Now, begin the moderately demanding descent. At about 2/3 rds of the way down, take a sharp right, following  the cinder road to within 50 to 100 yards to the highway. Look for a trail to left, take it. Then, in about 50 yards come to a 3-way intersection, take the right leg towards the highway / Suttle Lake. This is the Lake Creek Tail. It will cross underneath the highway and then lead you to the beginning of the 3-mile single track traverse around Suttle Lake.

Refill water. Next up, another single track section that leads you to the west edge of Black Butter Ranch. Take a breath on the pavement, then begin the last gravel section. After topping our on Gravel Cracker Hill it is all down hill from here.

This route rides best in the spring and early summer when the “washboard” is to a minimum, the peaks are still snow-capped, and the flowers are in bloom. If possible, do the ride midweek and not on a holiday weekend.

**Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 58 miles / 2900 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (4 gravel sectors, 27.4 miles total / 3 single track sectors, 13 miles total)[tooltip tip=”For more detailed sector info, click on View Full Version on map (below).”]**[/tooltip]
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Location: Sisters, OR
– Date Updated: June 2017 (updated August 2020)

**Difficulty
Intermediate / Advanced. The route has several single track sections rated “easy” for mountain bikes, one somewhat technical descent and a climb of 1200 ft over 5 miles.

**The Start
Creekside Park in Sisters, Oregon. Flush toilets and water across the foot bridge.

**Food / Water
@ mile 20 Camp Sherman (food & water), @ mile 38 Shuttle Lake Lodge (water), and @mile 53 Cold Spring Campground (water)

**Ride Options
If you’re looking for a bit more single track, consider this alternative start. It replaces the Indian Ford opening section [paved] with a single track trail. You trade out some nice roling paved road with views for easy forest mountain bike trail. Map / Cue Sheet / GPX file

**GPX Track File
Click to download.


Legend:
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single-track

For help with Ride, GPS files, etc see the “Help with …” page. To learn how to download the routes for free, see “Using Our Routes …” page.

  • peter says:

    We’ve just bought a place in black butte ranch and I was desperate to find some trails that I could use to get to sisters – this looks absolutely perfect! Can’t wait to ride it (lauf true grit). thanks so much for detailing and sharing this.

  • Riding well. Amazing views of the GR fire. We altered the ride out of Sisters to include less pavement for some sweet singletrack by using the Pine St, Sisters trail system. https://www.strava.com/activities/3942774290 . The Indian Ford CG bridge is fixed (yeah!). And look for the under highway 20 passage, just before Suttle Lake. I can confirm that the Round Lake climb is tough in either direction! Used 40mm tires.

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Great feedback!

      (1) We have changed the mapping and cue sheet to reflect the trail passage underneath the highway. Done for both Gravelcracker 60 and 85.

      (2) We have added the suggested route by SamH into the ride options section of the route description.

  • Dave says:

    Road this on Aug 15 and despite being very hot (105F), the route was in pretty good shape. There were washboards on pretty much all of the fire/jeep roads but these were easily avoided by just riding on the shoulder. Single track sections were a little loose but nothing too bad. Overall, really awesome ride! We were on gravel bikes with 700×50 tires for reference.

  • Jordan Barber says:

    Gravel/Jeep road section around Black Butte has deep washboard sections on descents. August 15th. Was glad I did this route on my XC MTB.

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