Central Oregon has many attributes that make it a wonderful place to live as well as a world-class vacation destination. We enjoy mountain views, a river running through a beautiful Downtown Bend, and surrounding farms and ranches illustrating our heritage. For local and visiting cyclists, each of these features can be experienced in one day, on the Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway.
Oregon began the Scenic Bikeways program in 2005 with diverse routes suggested by locals that accommodate both beginner and advanced cyclists, depending upon the ride. Some are short day rides, while others are challenging, multi-day trips. There are currently 12 bikeways listed throughout the state, including five in Central Oregon.
Officially listed as a moderately difficult ride, the hilly Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway is a stretch for beginner cyclists, but easily tackled by those who spend enough time in the saddle of a road bike. The 36.3 miles of both urban and rural roads offer a chance to get a great workout without a gym membership.
Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway begins in Downtown Bend’s iconic Drake Park. Follow the river west until the road goes over the bridge and passes the collection of bars and shops on Galveston Avenue. The businesses give way to a virtual timeline of Bend’s housing market—mill houses to mini-mansions to the sustainability-sensitive NorthWest Crossing neighborhood. Another turn towards the west brings riders to the first downhill into Shevlin Park. But, with an exhilarating downhill comes a leg-burning climb that takes riders officially out of town and into wide-open spaces.
Another downhill, uphill and left turn on Tyler Road conjures up smiles and mind-wanderings of quintessential countryside road cycling. Cascade Mountain views and distant high clouds set the backdrop for acres of fields with sheep, cows, llamas and chickens going about their daily routine. It’s best to be aware while riding and be on the lookout for farm equipment and the occasional horse on the road. This section is dominated by hobby farms and ranches and leads to the low point of the ride, a short sprint on Highway 20.
Crossing Highway 20 leads to more carefree country road cycling. This relatively-flat section is the easiest part of the ride, as long as the high desert wind isn’t blowing too hard. If needed, the Twin Bridges Bike Aid Station lies 22 miles into the ride (see our coverage in “Our Town”).
A turn onto Twin Bridges Road offers another fun downhill followed by an uphill that makes you question the “moderate” rating of the ride. Once at the top of the hill, a couple of right turns and another downhill leads riders to the town of Tumalo, where food, water and restrooms are available. Another careful crossing of Highway 20 brings you back to long stretches of country roads with mountain views. Follow the signs and realize you are heading back towards Shevlin Park and eventually your downtown starting point.
Oregon Scenic Rides Benefit Oregon Communities
Even non-cyclists should be fans of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways program. A 2014 study revealed 79,000 rides were taken on the Bikeways, including 7,900 on Twin Bridges. Cyclists who rode Oregon Scenic Bikeways spent approximately $12.4 million in the respective communities. In addition, this spending supported over 150 jobs with earnings of close to $3.4 million. Meanwhile, governments collected approximately $450,000 in taxes (gas, lodging, income) off the Bikeways.