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Mountain Bike Tracks at Paulina Lakes and Newberry National Volcanic Monument

High-altitude single-track around and through the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 29 miles / 47 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: One of the "signature" mountain bike trips in Central Oregon, this ride runs around and through the caldera comprising the main part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Trails are excellent. The ride is physically challenging but not highly technical.

The majority of the route is along the caldera rim at ~7000 feet of elevation. Great views of the Cascades and surrounding desert await! An alternate track back down into the crater adds climbing options.

Newberry is an active volcano, meaning the last eruption was some time in the last couple thousand years. Some of the cool stuff includes cinder cones, lava flows, and a huge obsidian (volcanic glass) flow.

The route is an easy day trip from Bend. There are multiple camping options nearby. Rustic lodges at both East and Paulina Lakes offer a change from the ordinary.

Best months to hit this route are July through October, depending on snow-pack and weather.

Tips: Bring plenty of water. There's none on the trail.

Warm clothing layers are strongly recommended, even in summer. On one trip I was with a buddy who nearly froze up on the summit, even though it was August!

There are general stores at the lakeside resorts on Paulina and East Lake.

Points of Interest


Start of Ride at Paulina Lake

The trailhead is about an hour from Bend. Getting there is easy. Drive south on highway 97 about 23 miles and turn left at Paulina Lake Road. From there the road climbs up to Monument, about 12 miles. Park is on the left just after the ranger station. (Don't forget your parking permit).

To the ride head east on the paved road about a quarter mile and then turn right up toward the peak

Gravel Road climb up to the trail head and peak

The initial climb up the gravel road is gnarly. I've done it twice on a single speed - it hurt more the second time because you would have thought I got smarter... but didn't.

Head uphill a couple miles to the trailhead or keep going to the peak for a killer option.

Trail Head

The trail is well-marked and on the right at about 7500' elevation.

The trail drops off quickly with a couple of sharp turns right off the top and then runs out into a stride.

Keep rolling a couple miles till you hit the junction and need to decide between staying on the rim or dropping back into the basin.

Paulina Peak

If you have the energy continue climbing for another half mile past the trailhead up to the peak for some great scenery and a view of the ride you'll be doing.

Newberry Crater (National Volcanic Monument) is the remains of a volcano that blew up about half a million years ago. The caldera is about 10X the size of the Mt St Helens's and has been the site of frequent volcanic activity. It is still considered active; many cinder cones dot the interior of the crater. To the Northwest are the Big Obsidian Flow and the Big Cinder Hill. Paulina Lake and East Lake are below, and many volcanic peaks of the Cascades can be seen on a clear day.

South Rim Single Track

Once you leave the road you're in single track heaven. Conditions are excellent. Since you're riding mostly on volcanic rock, the trail can get a little soft during hot dry weather.

Be sure to stop and take in the views. The scenic pictures here show the views the obsidian flow.

Junctions are well marked.

Trail junction

Trail junction for the obsidian flow descent.

Big Cinder Hill Viewpoint

If you kept rolling on the rim trail you will ride through some great single track with some minor climbing.
At the Northeast corner you cross the Big Cinder Hill. Covered in Red volcanic pumice it is mostly treeless. A great stop for lunch and a view.

Keep rolling on the trail.

Obsidian Flow

The trail descends here past the Big Obsidian Flow. Pitch is steep and the views are beautiful. As you go past the obsidian flow you will see the glinting glass-like obsidian strewn everywhere.

Bail out route

If you are out of time or gas, this is a good bailout point. It's an easy ride back to the parking lot along the road.

Lake level ride back up to the rim

The trail through here is well used and part of the ride is along the road. There are some steep spots, but mostly it is very ridable and fun, passing by basalt lava flows and through denser forest as you climb back to the rim

Rim Trail Junction

The junction is well signed. If you are coming up the hill, head left.

Get ready for your last climb of the day. Also, in 2009 there were quite a few trees down across the trail.

Last viewpoint before long descent

After a last little bit of climbing you get to the summit and from here the trail is easy, fast, and fun.

Just keep rolling along the trail. Be ready for some steep descents.

End of the Ride

The last pitch of the ride is a fast descent. On top the trail can be a bit soft. As you drop into the trees the track widens and is a fast and fun romp through the forest.

The last view of the Lake - an inviting swim awaits!!!!
Pictures in this guide taken by: was
Congrats on your 1st Guide...great views, makes me wish I was a biker.

by jimlarkey on Jun 30, 2010

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About the Author

Favorite activities are skiing and biking. I work in Portland and play in Central Oregon. Does that...

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