Meander in the woods. That’s the best description of this route which takes you to an easy mountain biking area in the Metolius Preserve (a lovely gift from the Deschutes Land Trust.) It’s a pine, larch and fir forest with a stream running through the middle. We think it’s amazing in the fall when the larch trees turn bright yellow and then drop all their needles. We think it’s amazing in the summer when everywhere else is getting dusty and this just stays nice.
Rumor has it there are river otters that share their habitat with elk, deer and even badgers. Look out for the turkeys and grouse too; they will scare you as much as you scare them!
Besides the Preserve, we also encourage you to head around Suttle Lake. It’s one of those paths that isn’t steep, but gets REALLY close to the water. Just be kind to the hikers who are enjoying the same route around the lake. And we love the Suttle Lake Lodge: it has a nice lounge area with big bay windows of the lake. Yes, you have permission to leave your car in the parking area and to use their bathrooms. Wow, now there’s a bonus for a start.
We also like this route as a good way to test your navigation skills. There are a few tricky turns so you’ll need to follow your navigation closely.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
Moderate-. Due to: (a) An extensive amount of easy rated mountain bike single track with gentle grades. (b) The challenge of navigating many junctions and turns. We recommend setting your bike navigation computer to a resolution like 500 feet or 1000 feet. (c) A short, but steep incline as you near Suttle Lake on the return.
When we like to ride this …
Early (like 8 am) on a hot summer day or in October when the Larch trees are in full color. In the spring the route can be wet, muddy and boggy. Avoid.
Food / Water
There is a full restaurant at Suttle Lake lodge. However, it may be seasonal.
Our Community Partner …
The Metolius Preserve is owned and cared for by a local nonprofit, the Deschutes Land Trust. The Land Trust has been working in Central Oregon since 1995 to conserve land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. The Metolius Preserve is just one of ten other community preserves that are protected forever by the Land Trust for wildlife and people. These preserves are what make Central Oregon so full of natural beauty and outdoor splendor. The Land Trust believes that we can protect that beauty, that land that sustains us. You can too. Donate today to protect land with the Deschutes Land Trust and get involved as a volunteer to help care for the land.
Ride Details**Read More
The route is a mix of easy to ride single track and old forest service roads that with time have become more like two track (or double track) trails.
Miles 0 to 3 / Lake Creek Trail / Single Track & Double Track
The route starts with one of the most difficult single track sections, winding along Lake Creek and crossing under Highway 26. The trail undulates up and down a bit, with views of the creek to the right.
Lake Creek currently provides spawning habitat for native redband trout and nesting habitat for a wide range of neotropical songbirds. Lake Creek is also an important part of current efforts to reintroduce spring chinook and sockeye salmon to the upper Deschutes Basin. Historically, a significant proportion of Metolius River spring chinook spawned in Lake Creek, and one of Oregon’s two native sockeye salmon runs migrated through Lake Creek to Suttle Lake. By protecting the Metolius Preserve, the Land Trust is helping to ensure a successful reintroduction of salmon in the upper Deschutes Basin. [Deschutes Land Trust]
After passing under Highway 26, a section that may to be walked, the trail remains single track for the next 1.5 miles, but it is wider and mostly downhill. This section of trail gives you that superhero feeling.[micro-video] When the trail turns to double track, stay in the right hand groove, as the left hand groove is the horse trail and more rutted and soft.
Miles 3 to11 / Metolius Preserve Sector / Single Track & Double Track
At ~ mile 2.8 it is a right hand turn on single track into the Metolius Preserve proper. This section of single track is primitive and narrow, but short in length. In the Preserve proper the route is a series of loops inter-connected by a common trail. The course traverses the Preserve in a counter-clockwise direction taking in the west half of each loop in first and then back tracking using the east half of each loop. The loops are Larch, Fir, and Pine. The course comes into the Larch loop at the mid-way point from the Lake Creek trail.
The Land Trust acquired and protected the 1,240 acre Metolius Preserve in 2003. This primarily forested property supports mature ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and western larch, as well as a rich diversity of other plant species. Three miles of Lake Creek, an important tributary to the Metolius River, flow through the property, contributing to the rich habitat found on the Preserve. [Deschutes Land Trust]
The Larch Loop:
The Larch Trails “take visitors through one of the most ecologically diverse sections of the Preserve. Fall is spectacular in this section of the Preserve when red and orange vine maple leaves and brilliant yellow larch shine. Spring and summer offer beautiful wildflowers and butterflies.”
The Fir Loop:
“The Fir Trails offer a great introduction to the Metolius Preserve with covered interpretive kiosk and creekside viewing platforms. Springtime brings lovely native wildflowers like mariposa lily, summertime offers cool, creekside refuge from hot sun, and fall blazes with beautiful golden bracken fern.”
The Pine Loop:
“The Pine Trails of the Preserve are home to our (The Deschutes Land Trust’s) most visible forest restoration efforts and are a great place to observe white-headed woodpeckers and other cavity nesting birds working on the snags we’ve created.”
Miles 11 to 14 / Lake Creek Trail Return / Single Track & Double Track
Upon existing the Deschutes Land Trust, it is back onto the double track[micro-video] of Lake Creek trail and then the single track section as you near Suttle Lake. This last bit is a bit more steep, with one short pitch in excess of 9% grade.
The Deschutes Land Trust conserves land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. We care for more than 13,023 acres in our region for today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. [Deschutes Land Trust]
If you are looking for a longer ride that still includes the Metolius Preserve, we would recommend the Metolius Preserve + Bonus Lakes route. This is a really, really good ride but with a bit more climbing and single track.
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track