Central Oregon MTB

This is a very scenic ride around the rim of a caldera with lakes, and the added bonus of good views of much of Central Oregon. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your fitness level, the views have to be earned with some rather strenuous riding especially if you do the standard 1000 foot climb from the day-use parking area on the west side of Paulina Lake to the trailhead on the dirt road to Paulina Peak. The ride is a moderately technical ride with the main obstacles being soft pumice patches and water bars on the final big descent. In the early season there can be lots of downed trees until it is maintained. There are surprisingly few big rocks considering it is on the rim of a crater. A beginner in good biking shape should be able to make it around the crater, no promises are hereby made in that regard, however. The ride along Paulina Creek to the Crater is 'uphill only' thanks to early commercial guides who ran downhill shuttles there.

More experienced riders will want to start at the Paulina Lake's western campground day-use area (the first one you come to when you enter the National Monument). From there you ride up the road to Paulina Peak. The trail starts about three-quarters of the way up the road on the right, and is not particularly well signed. There is no parking directly at the trailhead. From there you just follow the trail around the rim. On the eastern side, you will follow ATV double track for a few miles. The southern rim is the most open, and scenic but has the most soft pumice. The northern rim is more forested but much more firm.

Because of the elevation (high by Oregon standards), the rim trail will be in snow typically until at least mid-June. Although, with global warming, it may be possible to ride this much earlier in the year. Early season rides may involve a dozen log crossings until cleared. The advantage to early season rides is that it will be much firmer than later in the year after the trail gets chewed up by horseback riders and bike traffic.

There are some options for riders who may not want to ride the whole rim. The easiest option would be to have someone drop you off at the trailhead near Paulina Peak. (Have them drop you off at the top for the view then ride down to the trailhead on the road.) From there you ride the southern portion of the rim until you hit Road 21, then turn left and ride down the road to East Lake. Alternately, you could start with a group and see how you feel by the time you cross Road 21 and make up your mind there.

Newberry Crater is a beautiful place. It is hard not to relax when sitting by the lake. This is God's living room. There should be something to do for the whole family if they enjoy the outdoors at all. There is good fishing, boating, and interesting geology including a huge obsidian flow, and great hiking around the lake. Kids can bike in the campgrounds or on the pavement around the lakes with parents. There are stores at both lakes that sell the usual resort lake items like snacks and fishing tackle. Leave the ski boat and jet skis at home because there are slow speed limits on both lakes which keeps it peaceful and quiet.

This is a National Monument so there are entrance fees however, the standard national park looking entrance station is often unmanned.


Directions to the lake: In Google Maps copy and paste "Newberry Crater Rd @43.711910, -121.276850" as a destination. It is about 30 miles from the south end of Bend to the crater.

Newberry Crater Trail in Google Earth
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Bend and Central Oregon
Oregon Mountain Biking Home Page