Laurel and I had read in the Sisters Nugget weekly about the opening of a hike/bike/ride trail that goes from Camp Sherman to Suttle Lake. On Labor Day we decided to give it a try, starting from the Camp Sherman end.
Wisely. Also, necessarily, because we were staying at our co-owned forest service cabin along the Metolius River and didn't have an extra car for a shuttle.
I say "wisely" because on this trail we had to break our usual rule of mountain biking: namely, don't bike up any mountains. Or even steep hills. So it was good that we did our almost five miles of uphill riding when we were fresh rather than tired.
The Lake Creek trail is at least a 95% constant up-up-up grade from Camp Sherman. Which figures, since creeks always flow downhill (Lake Creek runs from Suttle Lake into the Metolius River and the trail mostly parallels it.)
But don't let this scare you off if, like us, you aren't an avid mountain biker. We only had to walk our bikes a few times on the way up; mostly the trail is easily pedalable.
I took my iPhone photos on the way back to Camp Sherman after we reached Suttle Lake. So here's how the Lake Creek trail looks on its downward path.
Just as with the Camp Sherman "Creeks and Coffee" trail which Laurel and I described and named, a great thing about riding the Lake Creek trail upward at first is being able to have a coffee and dessert break in a charming setting -- the Lodge at Suttle Lake's Boathouse Restaurant. Just turn left, then right, when the trail ends and you get to the paved road at Suttle Lake.
There are lots of trail signs. Horses are directed on one side, bikes on the other. Makes sense, for horse manure and horse hoof reasons. On the way to Suttle Lake, I noticed with some irritation that a horse had walked on the bike side, which made the soft dusty sections of the trail even softer and dustier.
This was the only place where we did some "where's the trail?" head scratching on the way up. You can see a sign post in the middle of the downward trail. Going up, head straight across the cleared area. The trail sign is out of sight for some reason, just around a corner.
Someone(s) with the Deschutes Land Trust seemingly labored at making a horse/bike divider along a fairly lengthy stretch of trail. Thanks, guys/gals. I enjoyed seeing almost all of the hoof marks clustered together, given how sandy this section of trail was.
Here's a close-up of early September dry ground in central Oregon. Not fun to bike through, especially going uphill. But manageable. In chatting with our youthful mountain biking waiter at the Boathouse Restaurant about the trail, he said that some recent rains had made it considerably less sandy. Geez, I'm glad we didn't bike it pre-rain.
This is the beginning of the trail in Camp Sherman. It's directly across from Sternberg Road. Watch for the Sternberg Road signpost on the right, a little ways past the Camp Sherman Community Hall (if you're coming from Highway 20).
We enjoyed our bike ride.
If I recall correctly, my iPhone's AccuTerra Unlimited GPS app said it was 4.7 miles, one way. It took us about 75 minutes to get to Suttle Lake, and 45 minutes to pedal mostly downhill to Camp Sherman -- including water and photography stops.
The trail would be more enjoyable earlier or later in the year when it shouldn't be as soft and dusty. But any time is a good time to head out on the Lake Creek trail.