Looking for a stunning backcountry ride near Bend, Oregon? The Newberry Crater Rim Trail is your answer. This 22-mile loop circumnavigates the rim of Newberry Volcano and offers incredible views down over the two lakes in its caldera: Paulina Lake and East Lake.
If you have the legs, riders can also pedal all the way up to the top of Paulina Peak for amazing views out over the caldera and surrounding mountain ranges.
This ride is one of my favorites in Oregon and should definitely be on your ride-it list if you enjoy big backcountry rides!
Read on to learn more about how to ride the loop and what to expect on the Newberry Crater Trail.
Important Things to Know
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What to expect
The Newberry Crater Rim Trail is located in the Newberry Crater Volcanic Monument about an hour south of Bend.
NOTE: This is NOT the Newberry National Volcanic Monument just south of Bend at the Lava Lands Visitor Center.
Newberry Crater was designated a National Monument in 1990 to protect the lakes, lava flows, and geologic features located in the area. The Monument covers 86 square miles and offers a ton of recreation opportunities like biking, hiking, boating, and camping.
Here are a few things to expect on your ride:
Newberry Crater Rim Trail Map
This map shows the full 22-mile route around Newberry Crater, as well as the short but steep and very worthwhile, climb up to the lookout at Paulina Peak.
Getting there & Where to Park
Newberry Crater is located near La Pine, about an hour south of Bend. Take highway 97 to the turnoff of County Highway 21 (also known as Paulina-East Lake road). The road is paved all the way to the visitor center but is windy.
You’ll want to park at the Paulina Lake Campground parking area. From there, it’s a short pedal on the paved road to the turn-off onto the Paulina Peak fire road.
Navigating the Route
Navigating the route is pretty straightforward, but you will want TrailForks or MTB Project downloaded to your phone.
The one tricky part is the left turn onto Newberry Crater Rim after coming down from Paulina Peak. It is very easy to miss.
From the Paulina Lake parking area, you’ll jump on the main road (take a left out of the parking lot) for a very short stretch. You’ll see the NF-500 road on the right. It’s paved for a short bit and then turns to gravel.
The Newberry Crater Rim loop starts with a big climb up a gravel fire road. The road goes all the way to the top of Paulina Peak, but the trailhead is actually about a mile below the summit. If you’ve never been to the lookout at the top, I highly recommend pedaling all the way up. The views are absolutely stunning!
HOWEVER, as you come back down the fire road, it is VERY easy to miss the turnoff onto the Crater Rim Trail, which will be on the left (you’ll see it on the right as you pedal up).
I actually missed the turnoff and the only reason I realized it is because I saw a faint trail on the other side of the road. Go slow and keep your eyes peeled or else you’ll add some climbing to your already big day.
If you’ve already been up to the lookout at Paulina Peak or you want to cut off some climbing, you can skip the summit and take the turnoff onto the Crater Rim trail. This will cut off about 350 ft of climbing and 2 miles.
Newberry Crater Rim
Once you get on the Newberry Crater Rim trail, you’ll follow this all the way to the end. There are a few junctions, but they’re well marked (I still always recommend having TrailForks or another navigation app downloaded to your phone).
The trail winds its way along the ridgeline of Newberry Caldera with occasional glimpses of Paulina Lake and East Lake. The terrain is undulating with short climbs, a super fun descent, and lots of mellow pedally stretches.
If you’ve packed a lunch, wait to eat it until you get to the lookout (you’ll know) at about mile 15. The views are stunning.
From the lookout, there’s some climbing before you get to the real treat of the whole ride: a four-mile descent back to your car. It’s a blast!
Best time to ride the Newberry Crater Rim Trail
Depending on how much snow Newberry Volcano has gotten, the Crater Rim Trail can be ridden as early as June or as late as July. I rode it in mid-July and it was perfect.
Summer is a great time to ride it as well, just be aware of the temps and plan your ride accordingly.
For fall, check the forecast for snow, but the loop can usually be ridden through September or later.
Newberry Crater Rim Trail Packing List
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of mountain biking gear and recommendations for your Newberry Crater Rim ride:
Newberry Crater Camping
There are several great campgrounds in and around Newberry Volcano National Monument if you want to make your ride into a nice getaway. There is the Paulina Lake Campground where the ride starts. This area gets pretty busy, but it has easy access to the water via a boat launch.
If you want a slightly quieter scene, check out the Little Crater Campground where you can score a site right on the water.
For a much quieter scene, McKay Crossing Campground is located away from the lakes, but on Pauline Creek. There is a vault toilet, but no water (other than the creek).
If you’re not into camping, there are also two lodges: East Lake Resort and Paulina Lake Lodge both of which have rustic summer camp vibes.
Other things to do at Newberry Crater
There are lots of other great outdoor recreation opportunities at Newberry Crater! If you have a few days to explore, here are some places and activities to check out:
Hike the Big Obsidian Flow Trail
I didn’t get to hike this 0.6-mile trail, but I wish I had! The Big Obsidian Flow Trail traverses through an obsidian lava flow with huge pieces of shiny rock lining the trail. It’s short, so if you have the time and energy at the end of your ride, I think it would be worth checking out.
Ride the Peter Skene Ogden Trail
The 8.4-mile Peter Skene Ogden Trail parallels Paulina Creek from Ogden Group Camp to Paulina Lake. It passes several beautiful waterfalls, volcanic rock, and beautiful views.
This is an uphill-only trail, so you either need to get shuttled to the start or take the fire road that parallels the trail back down. There is almost 2,200 feet of climbing, so this trail is only for those who like to pedal!
Play on the water
Bring your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and spend a day out on the water. You can also rent motor boats or kayaks and SUPs from Paulina Lake Lodge.
Riding the Newberry Crater Rim was one of the highlights of my mountain bike trip to Bend. It is a big day, but if you take it slow, pack lots of snacks and water, and enjoy the views it’s a pretty epic day on two wheels.
If it’s your first time doing this ride, I highly recommend pedaling the extra few miles up to Paulina Peak. The views are stunning. Just don’t miss the turn onto the Newberry Crater Rim Trail on the way back down 🙂
Planning a mountain bike trip to Bend, Oregon? Use these posts to help plan your adventure:
What questions do you have about mountain biking the Newberry Crater Rim Trail? Is this on your bike-it list? Let us know in the comments!