High Cascades Overnighter
75 Mi.(121 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Rob and his family have been bikepacking together since their son was four. They enjoy overnighters from home, weekend rambles in Eastern Oregon, or multi-week adventures across the globe. They are based in Bend, Oregon, and are ambassadors for Fatback Bikes and RideWithGPS. @robknoth or @dawnraek on Instagram
The mountains and deserts surrounding Bend, Oregon, are a cycling paradise. Everything from fast paved road rides to winter fat bike odysseys. In particular, it excels in long, cross-country singletrack. This route was designed to be accessible from town, without the hassle or need to stash a car, get as far from town as possible to experience the high Cascades, and do it all via flowing volcanic singletrack.
The loop takes you through a wide variety of environment: urban, managed forests, high desert, old growth, alpine lakes, rugged volcanic plains, buttes, and more. The trail winds through dense forests, waterfalls, and delicate mountain meadows. There are ample campsites at picturesque lakes with good fishing opportunities.
There are a multitude of options on other trail networks to complete a similar loop, this is just one. Go ride, explore, and enjoy!
(Technical Difficulty: 5 / Physical Demand: 7 / Resupply and Logistics: 1)
As an overnighter, the resupply and logistics are straightforward. Water is available at seasonal creeks and lakes. The singletrack riding is not overly technical, with only a few sections of jagged lava rock. The primary challenge of the route is the amount of singletrack to tackle to complete it in two days and a night. That, coupled with the occasional heat, can result in a physically demanding effort.
This route would not be possible without the tireless effort of COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance). COTA is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that works in conjunction with the USFS, BLM and other land managers to build and maintain trails throughout Central Oregon. Thanks to Fatback bikes and Ride With GPS for enabling adventures on two wheels.
- Some of the best singletrack around Bend
- Happy Valley and the alpine meadows below Broken Top volcano
- Swooping singletrack through colossal old growth
- Jagged volcanic rock gardens surrounding Mount Bachelor
- Fly fishing high Cascade lakes – Sparks, Hosmer, Lava, Little Lava
- Escape into the high mountains for an epic day or blissful S24O
- When to go: Best tackled late summer – snow will last until mid/late July. Mosquitos – your mileage will vary. Snow usually closes the high country in late November/December.
- Logistics: If you plan to park at one of the trailheads in the mountains, you will need a NW Forest Pass – available at local outdoor retailers. The route does not require any permits as is.
- Travel basics: Fly through Portland (PDX) or Redmond (RDM). Shuttle services available to/from Portland.
- Day 1: Leave Bend, steadily climbing up the Mrazek trail to high alpine meadows with Cascade volcanoes around you. Beautiful singletrack through old growth up high. Twisting lava rock gardens through high mountain lakes. Camp near Sparks or Lava Lake for water and/or fishing.
- Day 2: Traverse the south side of Mount Bachelor on a potentially rocky and loose singletrack to Edison Butte Sno-Park, and then play on some beautiful trails heading back into town. Multiple options once you finish Dinah-mo-hum and enter the trails south of Century Drive.
- For the adventurous, tackle the whole loop in one go!
- Bend and much of the US West Coast, is a desert environment. Be respectful of fire – the whole area is highly flammable outside of winter. Leave no trace, and keep off the fragile single track when wet. Leave it better than you found it.
- Great wild camps throughout the route. Be careful about camping in the fragile high alpine meadows. Established wild camps are plentiful around Sparks Lake.
- National Forest campground at Lava Lake
- Established campgrounds and trailheads in the Cascade Lakes area get very full/packed in Summer months
- Year round water can be filtered from: N. Fork Tumalo Creek (mile 20), Sparks Lake (mile 33)
- Lava Lake Campground (mile 40) has seasonal potable water in the parking lot
- No restaurants or services on the route itself. Take advantage of one of the many breweries in town to celebrate! Enjoy a post ride coffee at Sparrow Bakery or fuel up at Bangers and Brews or The Lot