View Full Version : Ride Report - Newberry Crater - 7/10/08

09-24-2008, 03:24 PM
Ride type: MTB
Technical Difficulty: Advanced
Effort level: Strenuous w/ sustained and steep climbs
Distance: 75 miles from Sunriver (50 miles out and back to crater from Sunriver, 25 mile crater loop)
Time: 6-8 hours

Here's a recount of the Newberry Crater ride that I sent to some family and friends this summer. Thought you all might like it. Pictures to follow.

I was looking for a killer mountain bike ride and spoke to the guys at a local bike shop. Told them I wanted a really challenging all-day ride. They told me that they'd heard that the rim trail around the Newberry Crater National Monument had just cleared of snow, and that it was out of this world if you're in good shape. We like visiting Newberry when we're at Sunriver and go there almost every trip. If you've never visited Newberry, put it on your Oregon life list. We usually take the boat there for picnics, fishing, and soaking in natural hot springs. There are also some rustic old resorts from the 40's that are fun to visit. The crater is a dormant, but still thermally active, shield volcano. Within the volcano's caldera are two large lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake, separated by a recently-created (circa 4000 b.c.) cinder cone. After talking to the guys at the shop, my plan was to do the 20 miles up and into the caldera from Sunriver by paved road, then the 3 miles to the highest point of the rim (@ 8000') by fire road. My plan was to then bike back down a little ways to the rim trail, deflate the tires and mountain bike the 25 miles around the rim, have lunch at the lake resort, and then an easy 20 mile downhill back to the resort. An easy 70-mile day, right?

I reached Newberry Crater Nationl Monument at about 6:30. The views biking up into the crater were great. The road up to Paulina Lake is paved, so I made the first 20 miles in about an hour and a half. At the lake, ran into a mother and her kids.
After another 45 minutes of climbing on fire road (about 3000' feet of elevation gain so far), I reached the top. Wow. What a great view. (The ride to the peak can be made on a road bike fitted with wider tires if you're careful. The gravel surface can be very slick.) The crater is about '2000 feet deep from lake level to rim. At the rim you can see the cinder cone that separates the two lakes.

Now, so far I have paid heed to the wisdom of the tortoise. Slow and steady, etc., etc. But, hare-brained cyclist that I am, on the way down I just HAD to keep edging up the speed little by little. In doing so, I failed to notice that I had passed the rim trail where I was SUPPOSED to rejoin it (near the top) and instead rode all the way back down and joined it at the bottom. Now, the tortoise would have wondered why both bike maps that I had with me used the fire road to access the rim trail near the top, rather than bike the rim trail all the way up. The hare-brained cyclist, however, tossed aside all such logic (aka common sense) and decided that it was time to play in the dirt - lets deflate those tires and hit the trail!

Any sane cyclist would have realized that when the trail is SO STEEP THAT YOU CANT RIDE UP THE MFING THING IN FIRST GEAR, you're probably on the wrong trail. No such wisdom for the hare-brained cyclist, he resolves that the quickest way up is to just keep going and to make it up the damn trail because he just KNEW that it was going to level out soon. And it did. After about 5 miles. At the fire road. That would have only taken 2.5 miles. About 500' from the peak. Where I was supposed to have joined the trail in the first place. That I passed on the way down. Sigh.

The hare decides to take a break. Actually, well, the break was the result of an involuntary dismount that involved the hare forgetting that gravity will flip even a hare onto its back. As I lay there, holding my bike above my prone body, enjoying the view of the crystal-clear sky (and glad I was wearing a backpack to cushion the very-much-unintentional maneuver) I started laughing because I realized that being stuck on one's back was actually very tortoise-like behavior. : ) Time for a break. Nice views.

So, the first 15 miles were great, the second 5 were probably the worst biking experience of my life. The next 20 were absolutely freaking sublime. Mile after mile of rolling single-track in a pristine forest with out-of-this-world views. I didn't see a single person on the trail all day. I did see lots of alpine flowers... and animal friends during a break...
Had to pay attention, there were a few areas that were a bit dicey because of the loose, pumice soil....
There were tons of little technical bits like rock gardens, root balls, drifts of pumice, handmade log bridges and ramps....
And there was still a ton of snow on the trail...

So, when you're on a rim trail, what do you do when you're starting to overheat and you're out of water? You notice the snowfield next to your trail and think a bit....lets see, we've got snow, we've got lemon drink powder, we've got........Snow Cones! Ice water! Yeah! What a great day. Life's good.

Didn't get any pictures, but the late lunch I had at the resort was tasty and the drinks were COLD.

09-24-2008, 04:56 PM
Did the rim just a couple of weeks ago. Easy by most standards if you take the road up you fool. I missed the turn onto the single track and went all the way to the top. well worth the view. A short rocky section and lots of pumice that looks much looser than it realy is. No snow in September but plenty of blue sky. Just the way I like my mountain biking - not to technical with great veiws

09-24-2008, 09:20 PM
The trail has been maintained since I rode it, then, because there was a lot of winter blow down on the upper trail in early July and quite a few spots where you had to either go off trail or carry the bike over. And if you eliminate that little 5-mile excursion you also eliminate most of the rock gardens and root balls. It's a lot of fun on a early-90's hardtail. The nice thing about those bikes is that they actually make great road bikes. Not many current bikes that you can comfortably do 50 miles of road and 25 miles of singletrack on in a single day.