Sisters to Smith Rock State Park
Turn-by-Turn Directions (show)
|Start north on S Fir St||0.2 miles (280 meters)|
|Head east on E Main Ave||0.3 miles (414 meters)|
|Head north on N Locust St||0.4 miles (605 meters)|
|Turn right on Camp Polk Rd||3.1 miles (5038 meters)|
|Head east on Camp Polk Rd||3 miles (4846 meters)|
|Continue east on OR-126 E/McKenzie Hwy||0.6 miles (1019 meters)|
|Continue north on Cloverdale Market Rd/George Cyrus Rd||4.1 miles (6524 meters)|
|Head north on Goodrich Rd||1.5 miles (2434 meters)|
|Continue east on Edmundson Rd/Goodrich Loop||1 miles (1613 meters)|
|Continue east on Holmes Rd||7.7 miles (12350 meters)|
|Head east on NW Lower Bridge Rd/Lower Bridge Market Rd||7.2 miles (11555 meters)|
|Head west on NW Lower Bridge Way/Lower Bridge Market Rd||2.9 miles (4670 meters)|
|Turn left on NW 19th St||0.7 miles (1183 meters)|
|Turn left on NW 12th St/NW 8th St||0.4 miles (639 meters)|
|Head north on NW 12th St/NW 8th St||492 feet (150 meters)|
|Turn left onto Central Ave||0.2 miles (247 meters)|
|Head south on NW 11th St||0.2 miles (295 meters)|
|Turn left onto B Ave||220 feet (67 meters)|
|Head east on NE Smith Rock Way||0.5 miles (770 meters)|
|Continue north on NE 1st St/Lambert Rd||2 miles (3182 meters)|
The Sisters to Smith Rock route is one of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways. It features varied, rolling terrain, although it’s generally downhill from Sisters. This is a ride that a broad range of cyclists will find enjoyable. Both the start and finish points are public parks, each with parking, enclosed restroom facilities and drinking water (throughout the summer and early fall).
The ride route is perfect for a single-day, point-to-point ride if a group can position support vehicles at each end. At less than 35 miles one-way and with no major climbs, riders can also make a round-trip of it in a single day, taking in the great views from both directions.
The ride itself features varied, rolling terrain with both uphill and downhill sections, breaking up the monotony of a flat ride. Overall, riders will climb 711 feet and descend 1,074 feet, including a stretch of almost 6 miles that features an uninterrupted downhill slope. At no points are there sustained or treacherous sections that will overly challenge the novice rider.
Starting and end points are at public parks, each with public parking and enclosed restroom facilities with flowing water and electrical lighting.
Given the public parking facilities, the Sisters to Smith Rocks ride is a perfect route for single-day point-to-point ride if a group can leave a support vehicle at each end. At less than 35 miles, some riders will choose to round-trip the ride, or perhaps to turn around at the Lower Bridge crossing the Deschutes River, about 24 miles into the ride.
Start at Village Green
The ride begins at the Village Green Park in downtown Sisters. There is ample on-street parking, and a large grassy area for laying out equipment before packing up. There are also public bathrooms (which could be used for changing clothes) and taps with drinking water to fill bottles. A couple great local bike shops, Blazin’ Saddles and Eurosport, are just a few blocks toward the center of town, so riders can pick up any last-minute equipment, spares or energy snacks. Sisters has a number of coffee shops and bakeries that will give riders the last-minute fuel they need before an exhilarating ride. Riders will also enjoy returning to downtown Sisters at the end of the ride. Several fine restaurants and bars are within a few blocks of this site, affording an opportunity to hoist a mug and enjoy a good meal to celebrate the ride.
East on Washington (4 blocks) to Locust
The route heads away from the park on a quiet residential street that runs parallel to the primary highway that serves Sisters (Highway 20).
Left on Locust, cross Highway 20 (stay on Locust)
The route crosses highway 20 at a well-marked school crossing. On the left, riders pass the Sisters School District Administration building. This building is a fine example of the traditional Colonial Revival style, and was built by the WPA in 1939. It was substantially renovated and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Locust becomes Camp Polk Road
As the route heads out of town, the scenery becomes more pastoral, with beautiful views of the Three Sisters to the left and McKinney Butte to the right. Only a short distance from town, riders will begin to see horse pastures lining both sides of the road.
Cross Indian Ford Creek
About 2.5 miles into the ride, the route crosses a bridge over the Indian Ford Creek, a spring-fed, perennial tributary of Whychus Creek. To both sides of the road are sensitive wetland and streamside areas. For most of the next mile, the Indian Ford Meadow Preserve is on the left. This picturesque 63-acre meadow has been maintained in its natural state and is owned by the Deschutes Basin Land Trust, protecting its significant fish and wildlife habitat, native plants and dramatic scenic views of the mountains. It contains a unique diversity of ecosystems ranging from wetlands to pine forest. The Preserve also serves as a migratory corridor for mule deer and a breeding ground for migratory songbirds. More than 90 species of birds have been observed at the Preserve.
Right onto Camp Polk Road
The route takes a right near the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Please slow down, and watch for gravel on the road surface as you take the right turn. After turning onto Camp Polk Road, the historic Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is on the riders’ left. This Preserve is definitely worth a stop, as it is a site rich with Oregon history and year-round scenic beauty, as well as a compelling testimony to modern restoration efforts. The Preserve contains approximately 1.4 miles of Whychus Creek, with wetlands, meadows, aspen groves and ponderosa pine stands. It is home to a variety of plant species, including the rare Peck’s Penstemon. Springtime brings a riot of color to the Preserve, often setting the lower meadow ablaze with purple lupine and native iris, while the fall colors are equally spectacular. The preserve protects wildlife habitat, and is one of Central Oregon’s birding hot spots, with over 150 different species observed. It is also home to deer, cougar, otters, beavers, coyotes, elk and other animals. An ambitious project is currently underway to restore vibrant steelhead and salmon spawning beds in the area. Camp Polk Meadow Preserve also has a long and illustrious history as a crossroads for Native Americans, explorers, soldiers and settlers. The Hindman barn on the Preserve is Deschutes County’s oldest structure. Also at the site is a peaceful cemetery, with grave plots dating to the very earliest settlers to the area.
After crossing a small bridge over WhyChus Creek, inspiring views of the Three Sisters appear to the right during a short climb out of the meadow. After a short distance, the route leads past the entrance to Aspen Lakes Golf Course on left. Aspen Lakes is consistently ranked as one of the top courses in Oregon, and was the first in the state to enroll in the Audubon International Signature Cooperative Sanctuary Program.
Left onto Redmond Highway (126) at “T”
The route then rides 1.6 miles along Highway 126, with open pasture and irrigated hay fields on both sides of the road.
Take left at Goodrich Rd.
As the riders turn left onto Goodrich Road, they pass an historic potato storage barn (one of several they will pass on the ride), which reminds them of Central Oregon’s history as an agricultural region.
Road takes 90-degree right turn; stay on main road
Becomes Holmes Road
The next several miles of ride are scenic indeed. The route passes several impressive equestrian facilities as it winds through high desert landscapes. Riders enjoy a sustained downgrade into a wide valley as the McKenzie Valley opens onto some of the most beautiful ranch land in Central Oregon. The Long Hollow Ranch (on the riders’ left), for instance, is an historic ranch in operation for more than 100 years, which currently operates a guest ranch, serving guests from around the world.
A bit further along the ride, riders pass an entrance to the Crooked River National Grassland. The 112,000 acres under management in the Grassland were set aside more than 55 years ago to promote development of grassland agriculture and the sustained yield of its resources, including forage, wildlife and water, providing recreation opportunities and protecting cultural resources. The Crooked River National Grassland offers hiking, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. Two National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Deschutes River and Crooked River, weave their way through part of the Grassland. A few miles from this entrance to the Grasslands is the trailhead to Alder Springs, which is well known in the area as one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes in Central Oregon.
For the next several miles, riders are treated to a variety of gently rolling hills, meadows and pastoral scenery. It is impossible to complete the ride without seeing a variety of raptors on the wing or perched along the road. Frequently, deer and other local fauna are also on view.
Right onto lower Bridge Road at “T” intersection
Lower Valley Turf is on the right; there’s a pretty canyon off to the left. You’ll pass Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch, and then an old cement quarry on the left. There are interesting rock formations and a State Scenic Waterway along the Deschutes River; you can enjoy walking access to the water and beautiful views. You’ll also pass the Borden Beck Wildlife Preserve along the river.
Enjoy pretty views on the climb out, followed by rolling views on the flats to the east; you’ll be riding on new, very smooth pavement. The main entrance to Crooked River Ranch is on the left.
Right onto 19th Avenue
Left onto C Avenue
Here you’ll want to consult the map/cue sheet, as there are several jogs in the route.
Cross Highway 97 at Terrebonne
Near here are the Thriftway Market, Pump House Bar and Grill, Red Point Climbing Supply and other shopping/resupply opportunities.
Take a right onto 11th St.
After one block, take a left onto Smith Rock Way
The historic train depot on the right is now a restaurant.
Left at the bottom of the hill onto NE 1st Ave.
NE 1st becomes Wilcox
Take a left into onto Crooked River Drive, following signs to the entrance for Smith Rocks State Park
At Smith Rocks you’ll find restrooms, water and picnic tables.
Vehicle Traffic: Low on back roads; high on short stretch of Hwy. 126 and crossing Hwy. 97
Seasons: Spring to fall
Download the overall route map: Sisters to Smith Rocks Routemap
Download an inset map of the start in Sisters: Smith Rock Sisters inset
Download an inset map of the section in Terrebonne: Smith Rocks Terrebonne inset
Download a turn-by-turn cue sheet: Sisters to Smith Rocks Cue Sheet
For more information on the area: www.sisterscountry.com
Order a free copy of the Oregon Scenic Bikeway map, which details the nine official Oregon Scenic Bikeways as of August 2012.