Cyclists craving new adventure will have their wish granted as Oregon’s first Gravel Scenic Bikeway opens to the public.
The new Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway is a collection of curated gravel riding routes around Bend and Central Oregon. Dirty Freehub and Visit Bend partnered to create six different routes ranging in difficulty.
“Gravel cycling has exploded because people are looking to get away from the crowds and out into nature,” explained Linda English, (aka, Gravel Girl), Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub, which is an online guide to five-star gravel cycling routes. “Deschutes County alone has more than 5,000 miles of gravel and forest service roads, so it’s the perfect place to establish Oregon’s first Gravel Scenic Bikeway.”
The core of gravel cycling uses gravel farm roads and forest service dirt roads, but some routes include bike paths and quieter paved roads. While many dedicated gravel cyclists own bikes made specifically for this type of riding, many gravel routes can be ridden on a mountain bike. Some of the routes on the Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway even permit eBikes.
The sport has gained popularity for two reasons: changes in bike technology allowing cyclists to better handle a large range of surfaces, and cyclists are looking to escape from stressful busy roads.
“It’s a great option for cyclists concerned about their impact on the environment and seeking more sustainable routes,” explained Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan. “Singletrack mountain biking is a challenge in the era of COVID and social distancing, where riders find themselves going off-trail to avoid contact with others. But most gravel cycling takes place on wide roadways with plenty of open space.”
The six routes comprising the new Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway range from flatter, beginner-level rides to steeper and longer mixed-surface rides. Dirty Freehub has created online maps, cue sheets, and ride descriptions for each of the routes.
Scenery and topography vary widely between the routes. The Water & Lava Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway spans 31 miles along the Deschutes River just off the Cascade Lakes Highway, while the whimsically named Poke the Bear route spans 33 miles of rolling hills on the northeastern edge of Madras and includes stunning views of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
“We’ve designed these routes so you visit places you probably haven’t been before,” English said. “They each offer up big views of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and the natural beauty of Central Oregon.”
To learn more or view detailed information about the routes, visit www.cascadesgravelbikeway.com
About Visit Bend
Visit Bend is a non-membership, non-profit economic development organization dedicated to promoting tourism on behalf of the City of Bend. We’re a leading provider of information on Bend, Oregon hotels, restaurants, activities, and Oregon vacation planning. To learn more or to order a complimentary Official Visitor Guide to Bend, contact Visit Bend at 1-800-949-6086 or visit www.visitbend.com
About Dirty Freehub
Dirty Freehub is a free online guide to gravel bicycle routes. We offer over 160 curated gravel bicycle routes across the Western United States, with over 4,000 miles of documented routes in Oregon. Each route includes photos, history, critical information, and a downloadable map. We are based in Bend, Oregon. To learn more about Dirty Freehub, visit us at www.dirtyfreehub.com