5 Star Route

Note: This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.

This is one of our favorite routes to ride in the fall – the colors are in full show and the roads firm up with the moisture and colder nights. 

The route crosses Tumalo Creek, climbs through the Two Bulls burn, parallels one of the old Tumalo canals, makes a “U” at Tumalo Falls, descends 3 miles of the Tumalo Creek Trail, and meanders through the Deschutes National Forest thinning project (a healthy beautiful forest now!).

We recommend this route as a fall or spring route, not a summertime route. The colors are best in the spring and fall and the road conditions are much better, firm with the moisture and cool evenings.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 36 miles / 2200 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 80% gravel, 10% single track, 10% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: Bend, OR
– Published: September 2017 (updated July 2018)

Terrain & Technical Riding Difficulty[what this means]


Some rough gravel in the beginning (~ 4 miles), some single track (~ 3 miles), and some “mud ruts”.

When we like to ride this …

Spring or Fall, not summer — the moon dust can be brutal. The route needs moisture in the ground. Closed to access Dec 1 to March 31 for winter wildlife migration.

The Start

Phil’s Trailhead parking area. Pit toilets.
Lat / Long: 44.043498, -121.385350


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track

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.

Ride Details

Food & Water


Ride Notes

40 mm tires are just about right.

Get Involved!

This route accesses a major section of private property called Skyline Forest. In October of 2020, we held a Zoom conference with Brad Chalfant, the Executive Director of the Deschutes Land Trust, to learn more about the land and on-going conservation efforts. To get involved with time, talent or money, contact the Deschutes Land Trust.

Summary of what we learned in Zoom Meeting with BradC.

The Skyline Forest (or sometimes referred to as the Bull Springs Tree Farm) is an ~33,000 acre of private property commonly mistaken as public property. It lies to the northwest of Bend and is bounded by National Forest and smaller private property tracts. It is roughly bounded by the Brooks Scanlon Haul road on the east, Skyliners Road on the south, and Three Creeks road on the north. The western boundary is of Skyline Forest is National Forest.

Overview Map
(Click on map for full view)
CP Roads
(Click on map for full view)

Skyline Forest is an important piece of property. It provides access to National Forest lands, is a prime recreation area for cyclists, hikers, and others, and is a winter migration area for deer and elk.

Currently, Skyline Forest is privately owned and managed via the Shanda Asset Management group. Shanda has continued to allow access to the lands for recreational use. However, they have recently posted the forest as “closed to motor vehicles.”

The Skyline Forest is also an important winter range migration area and closed to recreational usage from December 1 to March 31.

As gravel cyclists (and recreationalists), we should have a very strong interest in maintaining the forest for public access. The following routes posted on Dirty Freehub access large sections of Skyline Forest. They include:

Here is what we can do:

  • Be cognizant that Skyline Forest is private land and know the general boundaries of the forest.
  • Advocate for preservation and proper use of the forest in alignment with the current property owner’s desires. Advocacy can include talking with our friends about the history, ownership, usage, and importance (wildlife migration, recreation, land preservation) of the forest.
  • Be a second set of eyes and ears for the Forest Manager of Skyline Forest. That is, report unusual or hazardous activities to the local authorities.
  • Stay out of the forest during the winter range closure of December 1 to March 31.
  • Keep up to date with the latest information regarding the forest. One way to do this is to follow the Deschutes Land Trust on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to their newsletter.

Revision History

  • March 2021 / Put route guide into tab format.
  • September 2017 / Original Post as a 5 Star route.
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