This is a 49 mile loop begins at Fredericktown Court Square and heads northeast for 6 miles of pavement before a transition to gravel, then pavement and back to gravel. The route heads north to Martin Rd then a left at Hwy T then a right onto the main attraction, an 11 mile gravel road, Bidwell Creek Rd. This is a very hilly but fairly well maintained gravel road. Most sections are easy, smooth gravel though that can always change with time. There were few rutted areas as of late August 2020. There are amazing views throughout the 11 miles of mostly forested road. There’s a creek crossing 4.8 miles in which was ridable on the bike at the time the route was ridden. Of course this can change based on rain and vehicle traffic through the creek. See below for more about the trailhead at this creek.*
Before meeting at Hwy WW there is amother creek crossing that will likely require walking the bike, so plan to remove shoes! As of late August 2020 the creek was 6 to 10” high at this crossing. Shortly after the creek the road ends at Hwy WW and the route goes south towards Hwy T and then back to Martin Rd and the return ride to Fredericktown. At nearly 50 miles and very hilly, this is a longer route that will likely take a minimum 5 hours to complete depending on your pace and how often you stop for breaks. It is advised to bring at least three bottles of water and snacks!
*It’s also worth noting that there is a trail off of this gravel road, the John J. Audubon Loop Trail is a 11.5 mile loop. There are two marked trailheads for the trail that crosses the road several times. The first marked trail head is on the right side at about 4.8 miles, just before the creek. You can read more about this trail here. If you’ve got the time to camp over night it might make for a nice opportunity to extend your stay and finish the ride the following day. I ventured down the trail several hundred feet and it was very nice but many of the reviews of the trail mention that it is rough at times and also hard to follow in areas. There are no camping services or sites provided but dispersed camping (primitive camping) is allowed. Would be an ideal opportunity if you’re interested in trying out a bit of overnight bike packing!
A note about riding on gravel roads: They change! If you’re new to riding on gravel it’s important to remember that they can and often do change over the course of days. Sometimes the change is brought on by heavy rains. Other times it might be maintenance work by the county and other times just traffic. Remember that if you return to a gravel route you’ve ridden before that the surface gravel is likely to be at least a little different and may be very different!