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Swamp Wells Mountain Bike Trail

Bend Trails » Swamp Wells Trail Map

Trail Snapshot

Report (Date)
Length
23.6 miles
Elevation
5051'
Rating
Forecast

Trail is good to go, but expect dry, dusty and loose trail surface and/or occasionally deep sandy areas.

Trail Reports

  • Renee Janssen July 17, 2018 at 9:06 pmJust 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.
  • Jon Conway July 16, 2018 at 7:22 amNot sure how to PM but I'm interested! let me know the details...jonway@gmail.com
  • Andrew Murray July 13, 2018 at 11:14 amWe 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.
  • Robert Rekward July 13, 2018 at 9:19 amThe 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.
  • Jay Marsh June 17, 2018 at 10:50 pmRode down from Horse Camp. Solo on a plus bike, conditions are great. Otherwise, loose conditions would be less enjoyable. Still good riding!
  • Mark Kastantin May 1, 2018 at 12:24 amRode 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.
  • Andrew Murray April 30, 2018 at 10:25 amI'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?
 

Trail Description

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.

This is primarily a winter riding area due to the sandy soils. Winter rain and snow doesn’t hit this area as hard, and trails are often prime in the winter months.

This trail is maintained by Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

Trail Photos

Before heading out, please take a minute to look at the Rules of the Trail.
More pix @bendtrails and #bendtrails.

Trail Reports » Swamp Wells

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. Greg Copley says:

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Breck Morgan says:

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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!)

  18. D K says:

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

  19. 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.

  20. Patrecia Hedges says:

    Riding well to the horse camp.

  21. Bruce Bradshaw says:

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

  22. Joe Myers says:

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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!

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. Roger Schultz says:

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

  35. Zach Blickman says:

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

  36. 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).

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. Patrecia Hedges says:

    Good to the horse camp.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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

  45. Bruce Bradshaw says:

    No snow and no trees across to horse camp.

  46. Marc Fortier says:

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

  47. 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)

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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

  52. David Anderson says:

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

  53. 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.

  54. Nick Skinner says:

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

  55. 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

  56. 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.

  57. 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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