Horse to Horse

Ridden and Reviewed by: Gravel Girl

This ride has a split personality. Kind of like comparing Mr. Ed and the Black Stallion. It’s a great winter ride; summer is a different story. But we love that it’s close to town and always offers up big views. This is a simple loop that passes by Horse Butte and then circles around Horse Ridge.

Begin by riding out on China Hat road heading southeast, past Horse Butte, and slightly uphill. As China Hat transitions from paved to gravel you break out of the Ponderosa pines and on to the plains of Horse Ridge with Pine Mountain looming in the background. The route climbs over Horse Ridge via the old, abandoned section of Highway 20 and drops down to the other side via a descending single track section, a popular route for mountain biking. Note you might have a little bit of toe dabbing, push a bike through the rocky bits, but that’s no reason to skip this ride.

After a short stint on Highway 20, you can race back to the barn on slight uphill quiet paved roads and a very smooth section of gravel. (Look for the buffaloes and yaks at Pine Mountain Buffalo Ranch, which is on Highway 20, a great place for carnivorous shopping, although you need to call ahead if you are stopping in.)

Ride the route in the direction mapped (counter clockwise) as the “washboard” on China Hat road will feel less severe.

Winter is best for this ride as the traffic is less, the freeze thaw cycles keep the hard pack in place, and the lighting is incredible. Summer can have a bit more traffic, roads can be dusty and the washboard can be harsh.

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Loop : 38 miles / 1800 ft gain
– Mixed route: ~ 45% gravel, ~ 10% Roubaix (broken pavement), ~ 5% single track
– Location: Bend, OR
– Best ridden: Late fall to early spring
– Course by: DennisK
– Date Posted: February 2018 (updated April 2019)

Difficulty

Moderate. Most of the ride is on good gravel roads with no significant climbs. However, there is one single track sector that will have you wishing you were on a mountain bike. If you came from the mountain biking world, you will have a blast, even on your gravel bike… if you are an ex-roadie, swallow your pride and walk.

The Start

A dirt, ad hoc, parking lot on the west side of Billadeau road just past Faith Run Farms.

Food / Water

None


Downloads

Cue Sheet / GPX FileTCX File

Legend

Black = unknown surface type
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track
Purple = paved bike path / roubaix

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.

4 thoughts on “Horse to Horse”

  1. November 11, 2018 Ride Report. Counter clockwise along China Hat started out with washboard but smoothened out considerably after several miles. Instead of taking Fort Rock Rd we chose a curvy alternate route to the north which hugs the south side of Horse Ridge and provides a fun descent, some interesting Breaking Bad scenery, and in our case three groups of kind folks engaged in target practice. We joined back up with the route where Fort Rock Rd meets Hwy 20. The single-track of Horse Ridge was firm and frozen in some places. We very much enjoyed the surface diversity along this route. Highly recommended.

  2. Ahhh … it is summer time and the washboard on China Hat road is now severe. Wait until late fall to ride again. But … the road construction is completed!

  3. I just rode this last week, April 9 of 2018. Quite a fun ride, got stuck sucked up into a real life stampede of cows, calves, and a random coyote! Thankfully no bulls or I might not have lived to tell. A good solid intermediate gravel ride.

  4. This is an excellent ride for beginner gravel riders, virtually no traffic in winter, more or less flat, short and relatively kind single track. Loved it!

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