(dramatic weather over the Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon)
Ever since I went to the Scenic Bikeway conference back in April, I’ve been itching to ride around on the bikeways I haven’t seen yet. Combine this with a recent intense desire for adventure and newness and open roads and non-mechanized space, and you have a recipe for stasia-in-foreign-lands.
I took two days to hang out in the Bend/Sisters area, camping at Tumelo State Park (which has a $5 hiker/biker site, $21 regular tent sites along the Deschutes River, and $39 yurts) and exploring some of the four Scenic Bikeways that go through the area.
The Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway starts and ends in Bend, OR at Drake Park. It’s right downtown, which is handy not only for pre-ride fueling but also for all the post-ride food and brewery options.
(Drake Park is on a dammed part of the Deschutes River, and, like all things around Bend, offers amazing mountain views:)
The ride itself is a 36.2 mile loop that does, in fact, take you over the Deschutes River twice, over twin bridges (you can find the map, cue sheet, and other details at the Ride Oregon Ride site). The roads are pretty quiet, traffic-wise, except for a short (.3 mile) stint on Highway 20 and the initial road out of downtown, both of which have good shoulders. And actually, this isn’t mentioned on the cue sheet, but Galveston Road, the road out of Bend, has a parallel and separated bike path that you could take instead of the road itself.
There are only a few parts of the whole route where you can’t see mountains. The Three Sisters are the most prominent, but Broken Top, Jefferson, and Washington all make appearances at some point or another.
(mountains: typical bikeway scenery–in this case, north and middle sister:)
Combined with the high desert Ponderosa Pines, the river, the fun geology, the quiet if somewhat roughly paved roads, and the decidedly un-Portland landscape, it makes for a very nice ride.
Though mileage-wise you could finish the whole route in 2 or 3 hours, I had a really fun time making stops along the way, both to take pictures and to hang out in places that seemed fun. Shevlin Park, for example, is a lovely place that you pass twice on the loop. Tumelo Creek, quite cold, runs through it, and there are miles of running, hiking, and mountain bike trails to explore. It was an excellent snack-and-explore stop for me, and even though I could only wade into the creek for a few seconds before my feet turned numb, I still had a good time wading in, then out, then in again for as long as I could handle it:)
There are also tons of places just to pull off the road and marvel. Or watch birds. Or count clouds. Or do whatever it is you love about being in nature. Which, without consciously knowing it, is exactly what I needed out of an adventure.
The other cool thing, something that I noticed when I was biking through here on my way to Tahoe last year too, is that people in Bend seem pretty used to both seeing and being cyclists. Everyone I met was friendly and courteous on the road, which always makes for a more pleasant experience.
(and right at the end of the bikeway, not only do you go right past Bend Brewing Company but you also pass this awesome bike/coffee/beer/hangout place right at the edge of the park:)
But the best part…
But the best part isn’t the amazing views, the good biking, the cute downtown Bend shops, or the sense of openness and possibility out here. It’s that if you’re out near Bend for this bikeway, there are three others not too far away: the McKenzie Pass, Metolius River, and Sisters to Smith Rock bikeways all start near Sisters just over 20 miles away from Bend. It’s a bikewaystravaganza out there in central Oregon.
I have plenty more pictures, of course, both of the bikeway itself and all the fun stuff you can access from Tumelo State Park. Check them here if you want to get inspired for your own adventure:)
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