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Basecamp: Maupin/Dufur

Gravel cycling at lower elevation, and in warmer temps

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Fall gravel cycling can be a tad tricky: where exactly does the snow start and end? Rather than taking chances in Bend, here's a better idea: head to the Maupin, Dufur, Tygh Valley area and enjoy the lower elevation. Locals say the daily temps are 5 to 15 degrees warmer than the rest of the region. While that doesn't mean riders can plug in the blender to mix up margaritas: it does mean it will be warm enough to crank through miles on a bicycle.

Kevin English from Dirty Freehub is off for a spin on the Mack Canyon route. - LINDA ENGLISH
  • Linda English
  • Kevin English from Dirty Freehub is off for a spin on the Mack Canyon route.

The town of Maupin is famous for summer rafting and fishing on the Deschutes River. But fall and spring mean all "of the tourists covered in oil" have migrated south for the winter.

Maupin is an easy hour-and-40-minute drive north from Bend and is on the dry side of Mt. Hood—which means majestic mountain views. It's an agricultural town, population roughly 500, with a tourist friendly spin: good camping, good places to eat and nice lodging and enough history to make it interesting. It also has birdwatching: people have spotted over 260 types of birds in the Maupin area with many hanging out year-round. And the nearby towns of Dufur and Tygh Valley are both fun to add into riding adventures.

Plus, there's the crown jewel of the area: White River Falls State Park alone is well worth the trip; water from the White River plunges 90 feet off a basalt shelf to put on quite a show.

The gravel cycling is a terrific blend, with a mix of "lung sucking" climbs to more moderate rolling hills. The vast openness means easy viewing for amazing rock formations, lovely ranches and the towering Mt Hood.

Exactly where should you go to ride your gravel bike? At Dirty Freehub, we've pulled together four five-star gravel bicycle routes that start in Maupin or in neighboring Dufur or Tygh Valley. We recommend a long weekend in Maupin; give it a spin and let us know what you think.

Kevin English from Dirty Freehub is off for a spin on the Mack Canyon route. - LINDA ENGLISH
  • Linda English
  • Kevin English from Dirty Freehub is off for a spin on the Mack Canyon route.

White River Loop: Big mountain views with farmland in the foreground and the amazing White River Falls. A moderate gravel loop of 50 miles with 3,100 feet of climbing. Or try the White River Loop-Wamic Extension version, which is 68 miles and 4,200 feet of climbing. Starts in Maupin.

Macks Canyon

The route clings to the Deschutes River, with amazing wildlife viewing. This is a gravel road with a smidge of pavement that's an out and back. The route is 34 miles with 950 feet of climbing.  Or try the extended Big Mack version; 90 miles and 6,200 feet of climbing. Starts in Maupin.

Dufur and Friend

The route starts in the town of Dufur and rolls through awesome views of Mt. Hood, rolling farmland and over to the ghost town of Friend. The route is 64 miles and 3,800 feet of climbing. Or start in Tygh Valley and turn it into a 35-mile loop with 2,800 feet of gain.

Tygh My Shoes

The route starts outside of Tygh Valley and cuts through the White River Wildlife Area on an adventurous gravel road.  It's a lovely combination of farmland, woods and big views. The route is 30 miles and 2,800 feet of climbing.

For the nitty gritty details of these routes—photos, downloadable navigation files, detailed descriptions, and elevation profiles — check out Dirty Freehub at dirtyfreehub.com, offering over 50 five-star gravel bicycle routes for free in Oregon, and more across the Western U.S. and Tasmania.

If gravel isn't quite your cup of tea, maupinoregon.com/activities/cycling/ can point you to the Sherar's Falls Scenic Bikeway for a 33-mile road cycling adventure. And for additional adventures in the area, plus a real locals expertise on additional outdoor activities, check out the Imperial River Company at deschutesriver.com.

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