Some people like to hang out at art museums. They fly to Paris and spend the day admiring art at the Louve. We like to head to Camp Sherman to spend the day admiring rivers, mountains, lakes, forests, big open vistas, and … to explore the Wild and Scenic section of the Metolius River.
This ride starts at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, a lovely place to visit the fish and the Metolius River. (We recommend you go look at the fish before the ride, because you are going to be exhausted at the end.)
First, you head north, up the paved road for a few miles … then hit the red cinder dirt where you start a moderate, but consistent climb. You climb for the next 5 miles with views of Mt Jefferson. to the west. Once you crest the hill, you turn into the “Horn” — the portion of land wrapped in an upside down U shape by the river. In the “Horn” you roll through lovely forests … with expanding views of lake Billy Chinook in the distance. Read more
After exiting the “Horn”, you descend to Lake Billy Chinook. You meander along the shores of the lake, even reaching several put in spots for boaters. The roads are mixture of slippery gravel and “baby heads” (small boulders about the size of, yep, a baby’s head). The riding is not easy. The road peters out when you are just parallel with the Metolius River and the “fun” is just about to begin — rugged, remote.
Look for bald eagles and watch out for small black bears because they like the fishing just as much as the local fly fishing community. The route along the river is a mixture of primitive single track (i.e. hike a bike for most people), developed single track and double track / dirt roads. After 12 miles of this, you pop out at lower bridge (stop a moment and enjoy the view). Then head back up the paved road to the start.
Normally, we don’t make bike / tire recommendations for routes … but for this route we really recommend a gravel bike with 40 mm tires or something a bit more robust like a Salsa Cutthroat or even a hard tail mountain bike. Tubeless tires are a must on this route along with a Dynaplug kit.
This route is demanding both physically and mentally. From mile 20 on, you will be actively engaged in picking the best line through the soft gravel and around the “baby heads”. For most riders, this route will take 5 to 6 hours in ride time (including the hike a bike section). The effort expended on this ride is similar to riding the Steens Mountain Loop.
Also, the route is limited to group sizes of 12 or less per the Wild and Scenic River guidelines.
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop : 53 miles / 4500 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (2 gravel sectors, 42 miles total, 1 single track sector, 6 miles)
– Location: ~ Camp Sherman, OR
– Best ridden: Summer through Fall (The route is closed December 15 to May 15 for eagle nesting).
– Route Author: Captain “O”
– Date Posted: October 2018
Advanced. There is a significant climb of 1700 feet in 5 miles, sections of the gravel can be technical, 3 miles of single track with some hike a bike (for most riders) and it is remote (i.e no cell phone reception).
Wizard Falls fish hatchery.
Food / Water
Water: At Perry South campground (May – September), mile 29. Otherwise filter from the Metolius river at ~ mile 39
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single-track