Water & Lava

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Pinch me!  This really is our hometown ride?   Includes a path along a river, a tremendous waterfall, a view from the top of a butte, lava fields …. and a mixture of terrain.  Plus it’s close to town.  And it doesn’t get toooooooo sandy during the summer and too snowy during the winter.  

It’s the ride we send people to when they are debating on if they should convert over to gravel.

The Details:  You start at the Welcome Center then head toward the river (yes, you have to cross the highway!)  But soon enough, you are wandering along gravel roads and single track that hugs the river (right above the hiking trails in spots) and then lands you at Benham Falls.  Be sure to stop and go down to the overlook. The next section brings you to the top of Lava Butte via a paved bike path that has a slight uphill grade until the very end where there is a short, but steep 8 % grade climb on paved road.  (You have to earn that view on the top of the butte!  There is a shuttle during the summer that takes off from the Visitor’s Center.)

After leaving Lava Butte, ride the road, not the paved path, back towards Benham Falls.  (It has great views of the mountains.)   Near the railroad tracks, you will veer off left onto a paved bike path bringing you to the northern portion of Sunriver. Once you reach you Sunriver, you take the easy single track back to Benham Falls and then re-trace your route along the Deschutes river back to the Welcome Center.

Note: If you decide to take a spin through Sunriver, maybe to go grab coffee, good luck navigating the complex roundabouts.

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Lollipop: 30 miles / 1500 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (5 gravel sectors @ 13 miles total / 3 single track sectors @ 4 miles total / 2 paved bike path sectors @ 5 miles total)
– Location: ~ 10 min southwest of Bend, Oregon
– Best ridden: Spring – flowers and a fast flowing river. Fall –  spectacular color with the leaves changing. Avoid weekends and holidays, if possible.
– Date Posted: May 2014 (updated July 2018)

Difficulty

For experienced beginner gravel/adventure riders. The single track is about 4 miles in length and has a few rocky sections …. walk the sections that you are not comfortable with.

The Start

The Forest Service Welcome Center on Cascade Lakes Highway.

Food / Water

@ start: Welcome center. Water & toilets. Summer only. @ mid-point, Lava Lands Visitor center. Water, snack food, & toilets. Summer only.


Downloads

Cue Sheet / TCX File

Legend

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

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.

One thought on “Water & Lava

  1. We’ve lived in Bend for a year and half now and have ridden so many trails and routes and felt like we actually new our way around pretty well, yet we didn’t know about this route to get out to Sunriver, until just a couple weeks ago. This is such a fun, accessible route from Bend. It’s pretty flat and can be ridden at brisk pace on a cross or gravel bike pretty much the entire way. The top out at Lava Butte is a great feature.

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