Path of Totality

5 Star Route / Ridden and Reviewed by Captain ‘O’

Experience some of the hidden treasures in the Madras / Culver area. From start to finish:

  • ride along the rugged eastern shores of Lake Simtustus
  • gradually climb up and through Willow Creek canyon going from gravel road to double track to single track
  • ride up and over the “M” Hill on a bike path, a pitch of 20%
  • explore the farm lands of the area
  • ride on the rim above Lake Billy Chinook
  • ride up and nearly over Round Butte
  • and take on the steep, but beautiful descent back down to Lake Simtustus

Note, at the entrance to Willow Creek trail you will see signs stating “no trespassing”. Jefferson County has easement rights to the dirt road for those on foot, bike or horseback, thus use of the dirt road up to and past Canyon Kids camp is legal and permitted.

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Lollipop: 41 miles / 3000 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (2 gravel sectors, 4.1 miles total / 1 double track –> single track sector, 6 miles total)
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Location: ~ 15 min from Madras, OR
– Date Posted: August 2017 (updated September 2018)


Intermediate / Advanced. This ride does not have a lot of adventure sectors (3), but they can be technically demanding – some double track, some single track, possibly loose, maybe rutted and some larger rocks (softball sized or better) and some up / down pitches in excess of 10 %. A ride for technically proficient rides.

The Start

The gravel pull-out at the intersection of Highway 26 and NW Pelton Dam road.

Food / Water

@ mile 24, the Cove General store. Note, the store is seasonal. Open mid-May to mid-September.


Cue Sheet / GPX File / TCX File


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

For help with Ride, GPS files, etc see the “Help with …” page. To learn how to download the routes for free, see “Using Our Routes …” page.

  • Susan Foster says:

    I’d never been in these parts, was eager to see both lakes, and was looking for a ride that seemed safe-ish to ride solo. This ride fit the bill. The Pelton Dam Road return (@ 5 mi from Belmont turnoff) is now closed to cars due to massive erosion and slides. At one point, half of the roadway has sloughed off, quite impressive. It is still totally passable by bike but requires hoisting the bike over concrete barricades and walking through sections of cobble and gravel slides.

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Thanks for the update. Wow! The road keeps deteriorating. Funny thing … where the road is failing is where they were working to widen the road. Hopefully, it will stay passable for bikes.

  • Linda English says:

    Path of Totality was totally awesome …. The water on Simtustus was so flat that it was like looking in a mirror.

  • Huck says:

    A great day for an awesome route. Thank you for sharing. I loved the canyon trail from Simtustus to Madras – absolutely gorgeous and easy grade. I will repeat this ride again. I was beat at the end but a great multi-level ride.

  • Chad Swimmer says:

    This is a fabulous gorgeous ride. Thank you Dirtyfreehubbers for mapping and sharing it. There was a decent amount of pavement but not many cars at alll. I Must say it is probably one of your best routes for lone riders like me since it is not so isolated.

  • Ken says:

    This ride features beautiful canyon views. It’s the kind of scenery that makes me want to get out and explore Oregon. Too often we forget that We have wonderful canyon country right in our back yards.

  • Jeff Hedges says:

    Lots of variety. Very cool views into the canyons. Also nice to have a store for drinks about half way. Fairly wide tires are an advantage on the single and double track portions, while a mountain bike would be a significant disadvantage on the paved sections.

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