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Swamp Wells Trail

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23.6 miles
5051' ↑

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Trail Description

 E-bikes NOT allowed on Swamp Wells

Swamp Wells starts at Horse Butte and goes all the way up to Newberry Crater rim. Most people only ride the bottom sections to make loops in the 10-30 mile range.

The trail is mostly in the trees and would be similar to a trail in the Phil’s area, but with far fewer riders, and a more remote feel. The trail is used by horses near horse butte and in the middle near the horse camp. As you get higher in elevation the trail gets a little more primitive.

From the horse camp up to Newberry, the trail is rarely cleared of deadfall, so keep this in mind if riding the entire trail.

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    Horse Creek Lodge McKenzie

    Recent Reports

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    1. Big Fatty says:

      Clear to horse camp. No snow

    2. Dave Thomson says:

      Rode Swamp Wells – Coyote Loop on Thursday. Both trails riding well but there was a tree down on the Swamp Wells – Coyote Loop tie trail #3961.1 (it doesn’t have its own page here).

    3. Big Fatty says:

      (2) 12″ ish pondos were dropped to block trail on east side of Kelsey Butte. Really?

      1. Mike Johnson says:

        Are they trees that could be removed with a 12″ electric chainsaw?

        1. Big Fatty says:

          They were cleared today by Don Leet. Pretty big trees about 30+ inches Dia

    4. Josh L says:

      Only went to the top of Kelsey Butte, riding south from China Hat. Riding great, except for a few muddy spots climbing up the Butte.

    5. Scott Davis says:

      Super muddy sections of ice. Turned around after a short distance.

    6. Josh L says:

      Downed trees, all between 6-8″ in diameter (approx)
      – 43.94649,-121.250962
      – 43.937665,-121.240521
      – 43.926895,-121.238978

      I rode from China Hat Rd south, but didn’t get to Kelsey Butte before I turned around.

      Rideable on a fatbike if frozen.

      Skinny tires will be tiresome after a couple miles south from the road, even if frozen.

      I saw so many frozen ruts from riders who rode when muddy… and even walked their bikes through numerous snow patches, never turning around! Sad.

    7. BendTrails says:

      Deep snow for almost half a mile from the Crater Rim trail junction (going down). After that it’s all clear.

      1. Abe Downey says:

        Can you be more specific. Like where did you park and where did you start?


        1. BendTrails says:

          This report was from another rider (I didn’t ride this). They started at the Swamp Wells Horse Camp and climbed up to the Crater Rim eventually ditching their bikes to hike through the snow.

    8. mcanelo says:

      A couple small patches or snow near Horse Camp but otherwise riding great!

    9. Miguel Montaña says:

      I am looking to make contact with anyone who was on swamp wells trail on Wednesday November 3rd regarding a dog attack. Thank you.

    10. Josh L says:

      No mud, no puddles, no snow all the way to Horse Camp. (Did not go further south from there.)

      Just hero dirt!

    11. Marc Fortier says:

      Rode about 7 miles South of the horse camp, to Road 9710. Started hitting numerous snow patches at that point. Many small trees down, around miles 4 to 7. Took care of a few of them, but most too big for quick work with a hand saw. All less than 6″. Tread is nice – not too dry yet

    12. Steve Brown says:

      All clear and riding great up to Horse Camp. No ice/mud.

    13. Dustin Balderach says:

      A few snowy/wet spots within a few miles of the Horse Camp but all rideable. Will likely be completely dry next weekend. Riding great overall. Get it.

    14. Alex Anderson says:

      Cleared 4 or 5 small blowdowns in the last mile or 2 before horse camp so it’s clear from Horse Butte to the camp. Don’t know what it’s like above HC though.

    15. Dustin Balderach says:

      The short loop north of China Hat is mostly dry. A few muddy spots but they aren’t deep and not long (not rut prone). Pretty prime right now. Get it.

    16. Jeremy Brodhead says:

      Bottom from Horse Butte TH is OK. Quickly turns into super slippery ice patches but at least the mud was minimal. I turned around a few miles past the china hat crossing.

      Trail update brought to you by Hearthside Medicine Cycling Team!

    17. Jeff Moore says:

      Several trees down (largest about a foot in diameter) in rocky canyon about a quarter mile before trail crosses red dirt road can get over or under easy otherwise riding great

    18. Natalie Herse says:

      Swamp Wells trail from the Swamp Wells campground south to Newberry crater is riding super sweet after all this rain. And not one tree down. I’d have given it 5 stars but had to take one away for having to hike a bike in 2-6″ snow the last 1/2 mile to the rim. Masochists/adventurers go get it – everyone else, maybe wait another week or two. ?

    19. Dustin McNabb says:

      It’s a trap. A sand trap that is!

      1. Ryan Pedersen says:

        Above 6000ft was pretty good today :)

    20. David Gosnell says:

      Rode up to 61/62 tie Sunday and back coyote loop. Cleared one deadfall that was a mile or so before the tie. Wished I had come back down this route. Coyote was fun but it’s more sun exposed and there is hero dirt on swamp wells.

      1. Brenna Lopez-Otero says:

        Rode Swamp Wells. There’s a couple of rideable snow patches and a couple of trees down. So much goodness, I rode in the rain.

    21. Alex Anderson says:

      Rode up from Bessie Butte TH yesterday. Trail is in great shape. Some patches of snow that are easy to get around or go through starting about 1/2 mile above Swamp Wells horse camp. I got a few trees in that first mile or so. Turned around at about 1.5 miles from the horse camp at a ~15″ tree across the trail. (~5750 elevation). This tree is north of NF-1818 and south of a un-named road on my map.

      1. Marc Fortier says:

        I went about 2.5 miles past the horse camp. After that large tree down on the climb up the next butte, there’s one other big one at the top of the butte.

    22. Suzanne Marcoe says:

      Rode up to the horse camp today. One teensy ice patch, totally dry otherwise. There is one buzzkill tree (about 12”) on the first Coyote descent (just after the Fuzztail Butte turn).

      1. Don Leet says:

        I cut the down tree today so the trail is 100% clear.

    23. Brian Thomas Coop says:

      Clear well past the middle (easternmost crossover). I’m guessing it’s good to the southern crossover (adjacent to Fuzztail Butte and before reaching the Swamp Wells Horse Camp.

      1. Joe Myers says:

        My wife wrote the whole loop today and said it’s all rideable now.

        1. Andrew Murray says:

          By “whole loop” do you mean as far as swamp wells horse camp?

          1. Joe Myers says:

            Correct. She said there are snow patches but they were rideable.

    24. BendTrails says:

      clear well past kelsey butte. Snow patches before first cross over.

      1. Brent Edens says:

        Which is Kelsey?
        Also, when you say first crossover are you referring to the trails that are orange on the map above?

        1. Brent Edens says:

          Oddly, I’ve never ridden out there before so I’m doing some rainy morning armchair orienteering… ?

        2. Scott Fairbanks says:

          Google plus code for Kelsey Butte: WQ24+9Q Bend, Oregon

        3. Joe Myers says:

          Orange on map is cross over yes. It’s an unofficial trail but fairly important so we have it on the map. Scott – thanks for the location on Kelsey butte. Brent – it’s the butte you climb up when heading south on swamp wells. Nice views in a sea of manzanita

    25. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Loose north of China Hat. Still firm south.

    26. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Good to the Coyote Loop crossover. Unknown beyond. Late day frost on Kelsey Butte.

    27. Scott Wolfe says:

      went from the horse camp up to the rim and back trying to get above the smoke. no luck. conditions are good for plus tires. few trees noted in earlier reports are still down. one or two look like they’ve been down a few seasons. a few footprints and tire tracks but not much traffic in awhile

    28. Renee Janssen says:

      Just FYI, there is a trail running race at Horse Butte at 6:15 pm on 7/19. The runners will go out and back on the Swamp Wells trail.

    29. Andrew Murray says:

      We rode from Horse Butte Trail Head to East Lake Resort via Coyote Trail to Horse Camp then Swamp Wells on July 7th.
      Coyote Trail is a dust bowl from Horse Butte TH to about a mile past where it crosses China Hat Rd and then it’s pretty nice.

      Swamp Wells Trail from the Horse Camp to the Crater Rim Trail junction is nice and riding well. We encountered roughly 4 downed trees with easy walk arounds…only one would be too big to clear with a decent hand saw. Trail conditions on Crater Rim down to East Lake were also dry but riding nice.

      Anyone interested in a shuttle ride from Paulina Lake up around the rim and then finishing at Horse Butte, send me a PM…I’ll be organizing that ride again this year for mid August.

      1. Jon Conway says:

        Not sure how to PM but I’m interested! let me know the details…jonway@gmail.com

    30. The trail is bone dry and the sand is starting to get pretty deep in spots. Once you get up higher into the trees it gets a lot better. I’d guess all the trails in the Horse Butte/China Hat area are the same.

    31. Jay Marsh says:

      Rode down from Horse Camp. Solo on a plus bike, conditions are great. Otherwise, loose conditions would be less enjoyable. Still good riding!

    32. Swamp Wells and upper Coyote got a great moisture recharge yesterday with about 1″ of hail up top and rain down by China Hat. Prime time.

      1. Andrew Murray says:

        Hey Robert…I’m curious if you rode any of the sections above Swamp Wells Horse Camp recently and how far up it’s rideable now.

        1. I’ve been looping the short-cut connector back to Coyote and didn’t get up any higher than that. It sure looks like you could go a long ways though — at least snow-wise.

          1. Andrew Murray says:

            I’ve been thinking about driving up to the horse camp and then riding with my bow saw up towards Newberry to scout and clear downfall. Interested?

            1. Mark Kastantin says:

              Rode south of Horse Camp for a while today, about to Pilpil Butte before turning around. Trail had some sporadic deadfall <4" that would be easy with a hand saw. The biggest trees I saw were a 6" (with lots of branches) within a mile of Horse Camp, 8" on the climb up the butte after rd 300, and a 12" on the descent just before rd 400. This last one had a ride-around although it was pretty messy due to the steep, loose terrain.

              Otherwise trail was in good shape with a few snow patches that were mostly rideable. Looked like you could probably make it most of the way to Paulina before hitting deep snow.

    33. Swamp Wells + Coyote Loop are riding awesome. One tree down on middle SW but not worth removing IMHO — the ride-around is super minor and hardly deviates from main trail.

    34. Jay Marsh says:

      Amazing conditions from just below Horse Camp all the way down to the Horse Butte trailhead. Hero dirt should hold up well, barring any freeze/thaw. Go get some!

    35. Greg Copley says:

      Pretty darn nice up to about Kelsey Butte, then the trail gets real saturated…not for long… go get some!

    36. Neil Wrede says:

      beginning at Bessie, hero dirt, rutted dirt, 0-2″ new snow over rutted dirt, new snow over rutted old snow. Fat bikes thrive where others dive!

    37. Zach Blickman says:

      First time seeing an empty lot on a Saturday. The dog and I took turns breaking trail and made it nearly to Kelsey Butte. Max depth of about 6″ light powder, and just starting to get soft in the sunny spots.

    38. Jay Marsh says:

      Very nice conditions up to the cut-off connector (a little below the Horse Camp). A few soft spots that should be dry soon.

    39. Aaron Ritter says:

      The higher elevations and closer riding towards Swamp Wells Road exhibit some extremely muddy and deeply rutted sections. Please give the upper sections time to properly drain.

    40. Ryan Pedersen says:

      Darn good conditions below Kelsey Butte (i.e. the big climb view point) except for a couple sections that are getting pretty rutted.
      Really not too much trouble to dismount and walk those spots rather than causing more damage to the trail.

    41. Kent Reynolds says:

      This trail now has significant muddy sections due to the melting of the frozen ground and recent rains. Please allow some time to dry before riding. 1/14.

    42. Breck Morgan says:

      Drove back today to recon. Backpacking to the rim next week. Loved the rules and regs sign shot up.

    43. Sebastian Schnobrich says:

      Rode from Bessie Butte to the intersection with Coyote Loop today around noon. There were a few muddy spots but overall definitely rideable.

      1. Natalie Herse says:

        What a difference a day makes. Total mucky glopfest. Just say no.

    44. Ryan Pedersen says:

      Cleared some deadfall about a mile past Kelsey Butte (ie the really tough climbing part with the great lookout). Some tire ruts from recent warm weather riding but nothing as bad as in the Phil’s area and no hoof damage (thank God!)

    45. D K says:

      Clear on Thanksgiving, sandy areas nice and sticky due to the rain

    46. Brian Coop says:

      Below China Hat there are a few puddles here and there, but above it is pretty consistent snow (not deep, but there is more covered than not) interspersed with slushy puddles. Beyond Kelsey Butte the snow is deeper, but still rideable.

    47. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Riding well to the horse camp.

    48. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      The northernmost 10 miles are riding good except for a few muddy patches south of Kelsey Butte.

    49. Joe Myers says:

      Swamp Wells has been cleared from the rim down to the horse camp. Thanks Jade and John!

    50. Marc Fortier says:

      I thought since Cog Wild was running shuttles the top part of Swamp Wells would be clear – wishful thinking :( But most of the 9 downed trees are easily circumvented, and the trail is in great shape. Only gets sandy the last half mile to the horse camp.

    51. Andrew Murray says:

      Rode from SE Bend to East Lake Resort on Saturday, July 8th via Coyote Trail, Swamp Wells HC and Swamp Wells Trail to the Crater Rim Trail, then down Newberry Crater Trail. Stats: 35 miles/4000′ climbing/2000 feet descending. We stayed at East Lake Resort and rode home on Sunday morning. Amazing views and absolute solitude out there…never saw a rider until we were 3 miles from East Lake. From Horse Camp to the Crater Rim there were about 1/2 dozen + down trees, but nothing to difficult….only a few small snow patches on the trail. Very ride-able although not an easy ride. The pumice and lava rock about 1.5 miles and 7200′ elevation from the Swamp Wells/Crater Rim junction was pretty tough. Had too flats on tubeless tires on this ride, and fortunately we had exactly two tubes that we brought with us. I may be looking for people to help fill a custom shuttle trip w/Cog Wild to be dropped off at East Lake and ride back to Bend on Saturday July 22nd. So far I have 6 riders, looking for a few more to fill the van. No guide/ must be self sufficient. message me if interested.

    52. Natalie Herse says:

      Rode up and back from Swamp Wells CG. Perfect conditions for my fatbike. Mostly perfect but some sandy spots at first and on the painful switchbacks up and down those darn buttes. Several downed trees started to appear around mile 6 (lost count). Then snow patches started around mile 9. Had to hike a bike and orienteer over snow towards the top (first tracks, yeah baby, much easier to ride downhill). But as soon as I hit the Paulina Rim trail intersection the snow had suddenly vanished and I saw lots of tracks (dusty!) on the rim trail for the half mile I rode west on the north side to get the view of Paulina Lake. People have been riding the Rim trail I guess?

    53. Stephen Daltrey says:

      Rode on 10th June until snow at 6700 ft, just a couple of miles short of the end. There was also one downed tree that you need to carry your bike over, and that big one mentioned in another post. Great ride, and a long day out and back!

    54. Joe Myers says:

      Rode from Horse camp up hill for about 5 miles today with a chainsaw. Most smaller trees had already been cut out, but a couple were left – but after a couple steep ass climbs I hid the trailer and went without for a couple more miles. And encountered about 7 more trees (doh!). All were fairly small with the exception of a beast that is on one of the buttes and a trail has developed around it. Didn’t have the energy to go past about Pilpil butte. No snow in sight and turned around at about 6400 ft elevation

    55. Kristopher Siewell says:

      Totally agree with Eric trail is great shape with just some snow spots great loop on Saturday but man thou’s pinecones are evil

    56. Eric Kutter says:

      About 6 snow spots of about 20′ in length which are kind of rideable in the last mile to Swamp Wells. Other than that, the trail is in great shape all the way to Swamp Wells. Lots of pine cones though.

    57. Brian Frankle says:

      Rode Arnold Ice Cave – North Swamp Wells Loop this morning. Patchy snow prior to Swamp Wells Butte (riding from Arnold), but nothing too inconvenient. Zero blow down, trails were in fine shape

    58. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Rode up to Swamp Wells Rd (the red road). Multiple hike-a-bike patches of snow in the last couple miles, including the small canyon which was mostly snow. But overall, better than expected!

    59. Joe Myers says:

      rode up swamp wells a few days ago. No snow until about 1/2 mile past Kelsey butte in manageable patches. Took a Ed just past the next small butte over to coyote loop. Road had several snow patches. Coyote was clear all the way down.

    60. Paul Armstrong says:

      Snow has receded nearly to the Coyote Loop trail. After Kelsey Butte, the trail is a bit overgrown in places, making it difficult to get through unscathed.

    61. Roger Schultz says:

      The trail couldn’t be better. Made it halfway up Kelsey Butte before turning around due to snow patches

    62. Zach Blickman says:

      Good for a few miles south of China Hat, snow patches start around rd 1814

    63. Josh L says:

      Went out yesterday to check Swamp Wells from China Hat going south.

      It’s unrideable. Still tons of snow, and ground is very soft.

      In this area, best bet is to ride the cinder roads, then maybe the forest service roads, but even those are still covered with snow under the trees.

      1. Josh L says:

        Checked again yesterday, still too many snow patches (south of China Hat).

    64. Brian Frankle says:

      Rode Swamp Wells – Arnold Ice Cave Loop this morning. A bit of ice/snow on Kelsey Butte and higher sections of trail just before the Horse Camp as well as on the top end of Arnold. Surface was hard and fast. One downed tree between RD 550 and 570. Few soft spots on Arnold but nothing significant. Trail was in great shape.

    65. Natalie Herse says:

      Rode from the horse camp up towards Paulina. Made it 6.5 miles before turning back due to time constraints. Didn’t hit snow. Perfect tread, a few trees down.

    66. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Good to the horse camp.

    67. David Welton says:

      Rode up from Paulina lake and then down Swamp Wells to Coyote Loop and Horse Butte.

      This is a really beautiful trail with a lot of variety if you do the whole thing: pumice deserts, fast swoopy stuff in the forest, rock gardens. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been ridden more. It could use it, as it’s a little bit overgrown in spots.

      It could also use some work on the switchbacks going up and down some of the buttes on the way.

    68. Eric Kutter says:

      Did the loop from Horse Butte to Swamp Wells. Out on Swamp Wells, back on Arnold’s. Swamp Wells was in surprisingly great shape. The outer 2/3 rds of Arnold’s was pretty rough. Seems like it gets a lot more horse traffic than bike.

    69. Chad Ash says:

      Trail is clear all the way from the top down to Swamp Wells Horse Camp. It gets more, and deeper, mob dust the closet you get to the horse camp.

      1. Chad Ash says:

        *moon dust

    70. Natalie Herse says:

      Surprisingly not dusty nor horse tracked today. Fun! And the flowers are spectacular, especially my newly named “Paintbrush Alley” (the climb up the westside of Kelsey Butte) where the paintbrush are going nuts. And I only saw one other rider out there.

    71. Marc Fortier says:

      Went a few miles past the horse camp towards Paulina. Numerous trees down, about 10-12 per mile. Nothing major – a couple of minor bushwacks. Turned around at the road on the other side of that lava butte climb

    72. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      No snow and no trees across to horse camp.

    73. Marc Fortier says:

      Swamp Wells : a couple of snow patches and 2 trees down near the top. Riding great.

    74. Garrett Hampton says:

      Popped on trail just south of Kelsey Butte & rode to Bessie. Trail was in pretty good condition – there was a couple moondust sections but not bad at all.

      Trail was also clear. (Did see a few fresh cuts)

    75. David Anderson says:

      Rode from town up Swamp Wells and down Coyote on Sunday. As others have said, a little bit of snow to negotiate. About 10 trees across the trail up high that you need to negotiate as well.

      1. Bruce Bradshaw says:

        This is confusing since the COTA Worklog had the dead fall being cleared yesterday. You could have been there before the trees got removed.

    76. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Still a small patch of snow just beyond the south end of the “alt hard line”. Another rider got turned back by snow not far beyond that. I took the 350 road for half mile to Coyote Loop. Another small patch of snow on the road which I road thru.

    77. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Oh so nice! Really good riding! Hit hefty snow in the little canyon about 1/2 mile before Swamp Wells Rd but it is hike-able. Then took the road over to Coyote. Did not try to make it to the horse camp.

    78. Stephen Bryson says:

      The trail up past Kelsey butte to the intersection of the alt hard line is perfect, couldn’t be better, get sum

    79. David Anderson says:

      Road lower swamp. Still some snow here and there. Roads in area good option.

    80. Shane DeMars says:

      Kelsey Butte is now dry. Got stopped about 1.5 miles past there by a very large patch of snow in a low spot. If you know where you’re going you can probably get past this or even cut over to Coyote as it appeared to be an isolated spot.

    81. Nick Skinner says:

      Last snow still hasn’t melted off Kelsey butte. Got to the base and turned around this morning.

    82. Ballard Dustin says:

      Rode from horse butte trailhead to almost swamp wells horse camp where I lost the trail due to snow.. dirt was good for almost all of the ride few downed trees very short hike a bike sections no mud. wound up turning around and riding the double track to coyote lp trail which was in great shape

    83. Josh L says:

      Confirming previous report: trail south from China Hat Rd nice dirt – one mud puddle and 2 downed trees – I turned around at the first giant patch of snow, as it was deep, about 40 minutes in. Any more rain and I would avoid.

    84. Natalie Herse says:

      We rode our fatbikes from China Hat to the base of Kelsey Butte. It was pretty much hero dirt with a few short snow patches and 2 downed trees. We got about 200 yards up Kelsey but had to turn back as we suddenly hit about 6″ slushy unrideable snow from there on up. Hopefully by next week we can summit Kelsey? Good fun!

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