Length: 89.3 miles
Altitude Gain: 4,327 feet
Attributes: Lake Views, Rural, Wilderness, Wildlife Views
Interactive Map and Additional Ride Information: Visit Ride With GPS
Additional Area Resources: RideOregonRide.com
One of the best things about riding in Oregon is the sheer diversity of routes you can find. Skim down the coast? Check. Follow sparkling rivers through deep forests? Yep. Tootle pleasantly through wine country? Got it. Long and challenging Cascade climbs? Love ‘em.
But if you’re an appreciator of wide-open spaces with panoramic vistas and abounding wildlife, the newest Scenic Bikeway is going to put a smile on your face.
The Oregon Outback Scenic Bikeway offers striking scenery and a cycling challenge. Deep in the lightly populated area at the southern center of the state, it offers that sense of exploration you get when you’re the only vehicle on the road. You’ll be surrounded by abundant wildlife and panoramic views, in a place few Oregonians have been.
The Bikeway begins and ends in the friendly and growing town of Lakeview. The community offers choices for food, lodging, camping and shopping. There are also multiple Forest Service campgrounds along the route, and the small town of Plush also offers some services.
The route spotlights the majestic Warner Mountains, at the intersection of the thickly forested Cascade Range and the wide-open high desert and range. You’ll savor the combination of high peaks, rock walls, and pristine lakes, and you’ll share it all with wildlife including pronghorn, wetland birds, bighorn sheep and sage grouse. A thrilling descent plunges 1,300 feet to the remote outpost of Plush, where you’ll find a little store with a sign bearing the town’s “official slogan”: “A Quiet Little Drinking Town with a Cow Problem.”
Enjoy the solitude as you traverse the rolling landscape, skirting Hart Lake and Crump Lake. Keep a sharp eye out for bighorn and sandhill cranes. A highlight of the route is the narrow canyon that takes you past Deep Creek Falls, where eagles, falcons and cliff swallows fly above.
Spring and fall are the seasons to visit this route. Spring snowmelt fills lakes that draw migrating birds and wildlife, and wildflowers bloom in profusion. In the fall antelope and mule deer spend more time out in the open during mating season, giving you a better chance to spot them, and the quaking aspen light the hillsides a vibrant yellow.