2-Day Bikepacking Trip Near Detroit, OR: The Dunlap Funlap

Earn your Treat!

Every year, a gaggle (numerical equivalent of roughly 15 to 40 ragtag Salemites) of Salem friends pack their Subarus from floor to ceiling with camp chairs, bucket toilets, kids, dogs, beer, and lake floaties (yeah, I think that covers everything) and head up the treacherous gravel road to Dunlap Lake. Assuming minimal vehicle undercarriage damage and no flats – which have all happened in the past – this annual pilgrimage proves to be an amazing experience for all involved.

Small Sampling of the Simplicity of Dunlap Grocery Lists

Kids, dogs, and adults alike get to enjoy hikes, time spent on the lake, fireside chats, guitar strumming transitioning to impromptu guitar-led karaoke, midnight lake dips, and so much more. This year, my friend Joseph and I decided to switch up our mode of transportation and head up to Dunlap sans vehicle.

To earn our Dunlap treat, we created a bike route, much of which was stolen from oregonbikepacking.com’s Cascade Skyline Route, and it worked flawlessly. The route is no joke though. To get up to Dunlap, you have to ride a little over 80 miles and climb over 8,000 feet. For those not savvy with the world of elevation gain in biking, 8,000 feet is a lot of feet!

Regardless, Joseph and I made it through the entire first day with a running time of about 8 1/2 hours, which included breaks for photos, food, fatigue, and one flat tire about 4 miles into the ride. Spoiler alert – it was an incredible route.

Yep… flat tire 4 miles in.
Lunch break.

It turned out that Dunlap was already taken over by a group that does a similar annual pilgrimage to its squishy shores, so this year we actually had to take the consolation lake option, Elk Lake – still great, but slightly more popular and populated.

Before I inundate this post with the picture narrative of the route and revelry at Dunlap (Elk Lake), I have to give two shout-outs. The first is to the amazing photographer, Holly Hayes – at EdStockPhoto – a good friend and coincidentally amazing photographer, who took all the pictures at camp. Also, Joseph Penner – at Steel Bridge Coffee – who was my riding partner for this trip, and coincidentally (so many coincidences!) an amazing coffee brewer in Salem who supplied everyone with the much needed ‘morning after’ jolt of caffeine; the perfect antidote for his slightly hung-over constituency. Thanks you two!

The Ride Home

The ride home went without a hitch, and was MUCH easier. Whereas you climb over 8,000 feet to get to Dunlap Lake from Salem, you only climb a little over 4,000 feet to get back. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a decent amount of climbing, but it does not compare to the two behemoth climbs of the day before. Joseph and I took our time going down the treacherous descent to Detroit, as well as up the big climb out, but we opted to hop on Highway 22 and stomp on the gas all the way home. It was awesome.

Beautiful ride, beautiful friends, and a beautiful weekend. Dunlap (or Elk Lake in this case) never disappoints. ‘Til next year Dunlap. Joseph and I have plans to bus/bike/hike up to you next year, so stay put!

Categories: Oregon Bikepacking, Pedals and Packs

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