Big Lava

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

“Big Ku” of the Dirty Freehub team considers this one of the best gravel rides he has done. What makes this ride so special? Fun to ride roads and several “one of a kind” natural features: the Big Lava Bed, the magical disappearing lake within South Prairie, Goose Lake and one of the most impressive falls in the Columbia Gorge region, Panther Creek Falls.

The ride is known for and named for the “Big Lava Bed, located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the southwestern area of the State of Washington. The Big Lava Bed is the youngest feature of the Indian Heaven volcanic field. The 0.9-cubic kilometer lava flow erupted from a cinder cone about 8200 years ago.

Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to grow, seen sparsely growing between and amid towering rock piles, caves, and strange lava formations. Access into the interior of the lava bed is difficult, since there are no roads or trails crossing the lava field. Explorers who wish to venture deep within the lava flow are advised to choose their route carefully. Compasses are not always reliable, since local magnetic influences affect their magnetic performance in the vast expanse of rock.” **Click to Read More

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Loop: 54 miles / 5200 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 65% gravel, 35% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 45 min northwest of Hood River, Oregon / 1 hour 10 minutes northeast of Portland, OR
– Course by: Captain “O”
– Published: October 2019


Moderate+. Due to a steep initial climb with average gradient of 7 %. The remaining climbing is of moderate difficulty and never too long.

When we like to ride this …

This is a ride we like to do June through October. Earlier than June you may run into snow. There is a significant amount of tree canopy, making it good option for warmer summer days, especially with an earlier start.

The Start

Panther Creek Campground. Water, pit toilets.
Lat / Long: 45.819602, -121.880130

Food / Water



Cue Sheet / GPX FileTCX File


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

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.

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