5 Star Route
Six Shooter: a wild west term for a gun that can fire off six shots. It’s a favorite of wild west legends such as Sheet Iron Jack, a known outlaw, and resident to this area later in life. Jack created one of the first bulletproof vests (which served him well when he was out stealing horses.) But Six Shooter isn’t just a type of gun; it’s also a 36,000-acre ranch that you’ll be seeing a lot of on this route.
The editor of the Shasta Courier wrote, “Sheet Iron Jack cursed the robbers until the very air smelled of brimstone, and small streaks of lightning flashed from his mouth and played in fiery circles around his head. [Bad Company by Joseph Henry Jackson]
The first third of the route overlaps the famous Twickenham Loop route, a favorite of our roadie pals. The middle third passes by the ghost town of Richmond on Six Shooter Road and then slices through the Six Shooter ranch, which has over 60 lakes and springs, 500 heard of cattle and a private lookout tower. The final part of the ride is a blasting paved downhill that swoops you back into the cute town of Mitchell. The variety of terrain will keep you guessing all day, “what’s going to be next?”.
Miles 0 to 16 / Paved with Undulating Climbs
From Mitchell head west, and take a quick right onto Highway 207 towards the community of Service Creek. The next 18 miles are part of the Oregon Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway. We have ridden these miles many times on a road bike, but never south to north as this. The riding and scenery are spectacular! The terrain is rolling and open. Scattered Juniper trees mixed with grassy hillsides. **Read More
After rolling along for a bit, the first climb begins at ~ mile 4 and gains 550 feet in a bit over 2 miles. The backside descent is fast and fun with Girds creek on your left.[micro-video] Partway into the descent, the headquarters for Six Shooter ranch will be on your right.
The second climb begins just after the descent ends, at mile 10. This climb is nearly identical in effort to the first climb: 2 miles, 500 feet of gain. However, the second descent is more stunning and beautiful.[micro-video] The big, majestic butte in the distance Butler Mountain. In 4 miles you descend 1000 feet.
Miles 16 to 25 / Paved to Gravel, the Big Climb
The next climb begins immediately. It is the big one for the day, 1800 feet over 8 miles. The first 4 miles are paved, then it changes over to gravel. After gaining 1400 feet, there is a horizontal step giving a bit of rest. Then 400 more feet of climbing to the summit,[micro-video] which is marked by a large open meadow to your right.[micro-video]
Along the way (~ mile 20), you pass by the ghost town of Richmond. Several buildings remain, most are on private property though. Just after Richmond, the road changes to gravel. The open hills evolve into pine forests and some Ponderosa’s near the summit. Along the way, you will see signs for “No Hunting” and “No Trespassing.” The road is public. The lands on both sides of the road are part of the Six Shooter ranch private hunting reserve.
The town (Richmond) came into being in 1890 as a result of farmers and ranchers tired of spending so much time traveling to get supplies. However, the invention of the automobile drastically reduced travel time and the town’s reason for existence faded. [GhostTowns.com]
Mile 25 to 40 / Rolling Gravel Roads
At mile 25, the climbing is complete. Horseshoe Creek meadow is to your right. From here it is rolling terrain, some forest and some open meadows. The creek to your left is Six Shooter creek. At ~ mile 30, the trees give way to open grasslands.[micro-video] Just before mile 31 on Parrish Creek road turn right. This area is known as Waterman Flat, a late 19th-century stagecoach stop. The next 10 miles are farming fields and grazing lands of the Fopiano Ranch. The terrain is rolling and exposed – both to sun and wind.
Homesteaded in 1873, The Fopiano Ranch is known as a premier cattle ranch, rated at 350± head. It features 745± acres of irrigated hay fields and meadows, 6,000± acres of well managed timber and another 7,000± acres of outstanding rangeland. The Fopiano Ranch, is also home to a 1500+ herd of Rocky Mountain Elk. [Fay Ranches]
Miles 40 to Finish / Paved & Downhill
At ~ mile 40, go right onto Highway 26. There is a bit of shoulder and traffic is mostly light, but a red blinky light is nice to have. The first 2 miles is a soft uphill, followed by a long sawtooth descent back into Mitchell.[micro-video] Although this section is 8 miles on a state highway, it goes fast. 20 to 30 minutes for most riders. The downhill provides some beautiful views to the west.
40 mm tires are more than adequate for this ride. We started with higher air pressures ( ~ 40 psi) for the initial paved sector and then reduced air by about 10 psi at the start of the gravel sector
We recommend a red blinky safety light for the ride. We particularly like those with a rear looking radar.
The town of Mitchell makes for a nice base camp for an extended weekend of gravel riding. Routes in the area include Priest Hole, Mitch and Walt, and Happy Camp. If you do make a multi-day stay of it, consider staying at the Spoke’n Hostel. They are great people who help make gravel cool!
Also in town is a brew pub, Tiger Town Brewing. Make sure you check them out.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Tech Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
Moderate. Due to: (a) several short, steep pitches above 6%, (b) the remote nature of part of the ride (miles 21 to 31) and, (c) limited cell phone reception.
When we like to ride this …
On a sunny spring / summer day with temps in the 60’s to 70’s and little wind. The majority of the ride is exposed to sun and wind. From late August to early December, we DO NOT recommend this ride as it is active hunting season and a portion of the ranch is actively used for hunting.
The makeshift dirt parking lot directly across from Spoke’n Hostel. Toilets and water. Please go inside and introduce yourself to the manager and advise them of your plans for the day. And … donations are really appreciated! (These guys are great for cycling in the area, let’s keep them in business!)
Lat / Long: 44.568715, -120.159433
Food / Water
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
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.