Mountain Biking the Deschutes River Trail

Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Distance: 24 miles roundtrip. Minimal elevation gain. Easy road for beginner hikers or mountain bikers. Good swimming holes along the route. Great scenery. Easy access and very straight-forward trail. Historic old buildings and railcar.

The Deschutes River Trail—an old smooth road really, with a mix of dirt, sand and gravel—is a great mountain bike ride or hike for beginners and experts alike. While the trail is very easy, the scenery all along the route is breathtaking.

Park at the well-marked trailhead just to the left as you enter the park. The old road then ascends for just a little ways before leveling out as it runs through the canyons paralleling the Deschutes River.

The great scenery and easy ride make this trip seem much shorter than it sounds. Around the halfway point (6 miles), there is an old railcar that is a great break spot. Some newer riders, or those short on time, also turn back here, but for the more adventurous, a great surprise awaits you, if you keep going!

Around mile 12, you run into the old Harris Ranch, where you are greeted by some really great old buildings and farm houses from the 1800's. While you can continue on a little further, the trail gets rougher and less scenic. The ranch makes for a great lunch and turn around spot, where you can explore around a bit before heading back.

Note that it can get very hot here in the summer, and there is little to no shade most of the way, so time your visit accordingly.

Pack List

  • Lots of water
  • Snacks
  • Tire patch kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Swimming suit
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Activities Photography, Mountain Biking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great during spring/fall seasons -- prepare for heat in the summer

My wife and I ride our mountain bikes along this trail often when we don't feel like riding singletrack but want to ride our mountain bikes. Beginner-firnedly route for sure, and in agreement about the Harris Ranch being a good spot to stop, picnic, and turn back around. The one addition I would make is one of preparation. If riding during the summer, bring lots of water. It's very open and very exposed to the sun. It can also get really hot. Secondly, my wife and I have ridden this trail dozens of times in our mountain bikes. Had never had problems with flat tires here previously. We had recently purchased bikepacking bikes and were taking them out for their maiden voyages recently along with associated panniers and racks and both sustained flat tires due to goat heads. Nasty little buggers. We didn't have spare tubes nor a pump, stupidly. We also had flats 11 miles in as we were leaving Harris Ranch. We started hiking our bikes out and were luckily picked up by a fish and wildlife employee on his way out from doing work in the area. If that guy hadn't come by, we would've been hiking our bikes out for several hours.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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