One of the fun features of Tygh valley Rally Weekend #2 is the optional hill climb challenges we’ve added to our route for the day. That route? Oh, it’s the Sherars Falls Scenic Bikeway route and it is a beauty of a ride. Cycle Oregon has always celebrated the joy of the ride so there’s no timed competition here, just a fun segment to challenge yourself, your riding friends, and to see a little bit more beyond the scenic bikeway route.
View the route and hill climb segments on our course map here: Weekend #2 / Road Forward / Day 2 / September 19
Bakeoven is an unincorporated community in Wasco County located between the towns of Maupin and Shaniko and situated on Bakeoven Creek, a tributary of the Deschutes River. The origin of the name dates to 1862 for a clay and brick oven was built to bake bread that was sold to traveling miners.
As the story goes, a trader was enroute from The Dalles to Canyon City with a pack train of flour when his horses fled in the night. Left with the supplies on hand, he built the oven and set up shop for other passing travelers. Joseph Sherar is said to have possibly been involved in the business and later the development of the surrounding community. A post office was established here in 1875 and by 1905 Bakeoven also had a hotel, general store, and blacksmith built around the intersection of two key stagecoach roads.
The Bakeoven Road hill climb rises 995′ over 4.1 miles from the start in the southeast corner of Maupin, Oregon. It’s about mid-way along the Sherars Falls Scenic Bikeway route as we ride it from TVR camp but it’s up to the rider to give it a go before or after the lunch stop there. A series of big, sweeping switchbacks in the first mile gets riders up to elevation quickly and offers numerous vantage points of Maupin and the The Dalles-California Highway bridge spanning the Deschutes River. The road rises gradually with numerous false summits that make you wonder just how there could be any more road beyond the next rise. Our finish is at the power station where you can charge up for the descent back to town.
Sherars Bridge Highway
Sherars Falls is the final waterfall along the Deschutes River. The falls drop 4000 cu/ft of water per second over a 15’ drop into a narrow horseshoe shaped trough carved in the vast flood basalt formations that are common to this portion of eastern Oregon.
Sherars Falls was the site of a crossing point and a sacred fishing ground used by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs for thousands of years. First mention of the falls was September 1826 and the first known bridge in 1860. The bridge was purchased and later improved by Joseph Sherar in 1871 who ran it as a toll bridge. He later came to renown as a wagon road builder, stagecoach station operator and hotelier in Wasco County.
At the northern end of the Lower Deschutes Access Road (it’s a stunner, by the way) riders have a nice cruise west back to camp so why not head east for 4.3 miles and climb up to 1,292′? This climb has magnificent views in both directions with brand new, picture perfect pavement. The first quarter-mile is pan flat with beautiful views up to Elder Creek on the left and way out into Kerr Canyon on the right. Just ahead, though is a sweeping right hander that kicks up and the climb begins. Wow, wow, wow, these views are so big! As the road turns to the Northwest the road straightens out and adds elevation up to a series of switchbacks before our finish on a high plateau. Turn around and look at that, it feels amazing to see that view. Best of all, the descent back to the scenic bikeway and on to the finish. In a word… #roadslikethese