14 Mar

101. Metolius River: Into the Horn

Distance: 20.2 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 2,728 feet
High Point: 2,728 feet
Season: all year
Best: April – June, October
Map: Green Trails #558

Download a map of this hike (15MB)
Download a GPS track of this hike

With its incense cedars, ponderosa pines and yes, rattlesnakes, it may seem like the lower canyon of the Metolius River is a world removed from Mount Jefferson. You might be surprised to discover that this remote canyon is in fact less than ten miles from the great volcano. This canyon, tucked into the mountain’s rain shadow, is the true eastern edge of Mount Jefferson country; this is where the Cascades unfurl to the east into central Oregon’s high desert. It is a trek that is short on difficulty and long on rewards. Best of all, it is open almost year-round, offering backpackers (at least those with a high tolerance for cold nights) the chance to go deep into the backcountry at times when other locations are snowbound. More than anything it is a special place, one that soothes the soul even on the coldest and rainiest of days. The only thing about this place that isn’t soothing is the presence of ticks throughout the year – this is the only place in the Majestic Mount Jefferson region where they are common, and you should check your clothes and skin from time to time to keep them out of your business.

Click here to see a report on Portland Hikers about this trek

Walking a closed road into the Horn of the Metolius

Walking a closed road into the Horn of the Metolius

We scrambled up the crumbling slopes for this view of the Horn of the Metolius

We scrambled up the crumbling slopes for this view of the Horn of the Metolius

14 Mar

100. Metolius River: Wizard Falls to Lower Bridge

Distance: 6.2 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Trailhead elevation: 2,772 feet
Trail high point: 2,772 feet
Season: all year
Best: May – June, October
Map: Green Trails #558 (Whitewater River)

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS track of this hike
Download a GPS track of the trail from Bridge 99 to Candle Creek Campground

This exceptionally easy hike can be combined with Hike 99 (Lower Canyon Creek to Wizard Falls) for a longer, 12 mile partial loop that will give you a full tour of the Metolius River Canyon. While this hike passes through several campgrounds and is in general not as wild as the upper stretch of river described in the previous hike, this section of the canyon does have its charms.

The Metolius River in the moonlight at Lower Bridge

The Metolius River in the moonlight at Lower Bridge

The Metolius River downstream of Lower Bridge

The Metolius River downstream of Lower Bridge

14 Mar

99. Metolius River: Canyon Creek to Wizard Falls

Distance: 5.2 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Trailhead elevation: 2,870 feet
Trail high point: 2,887 feet
Season: all year
Best: May – June, October
Map: Green Trails #558 (Whitewater River)

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS track of this hike

With flower-spangled islands, gushing springs and huge Ponderosa pines towering above, the Metolius River is pure magic. Equally magical is the ease of the hikes along the river, making this area a great destination for families and inexperienced hikers. For the best experience, try coming in June and July when the river’s scenic islands overflow with a kaleidoscope of flowers, or in October when the vine maple along the river blazes orange and red.

The flower-spangled Metolius River

The flower-spangled Metolius River

14 Mar

98. Green Ridge

Distance: 10.8 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Trailhead elevation: 3,716 feet
Trail high point: 4,877 feet
Season: May – November
Best: April – May, September – October

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS track of this hike

Green Ridge is the most eastern ridge of the Cascades in Central Oregon, marking the transition from the high country to dry desert of the high plains. It just feels different here – the ponderosa pine trees and far-ranging views are more like what you would expect further east. The moderate hike over the slopes of Green Ridge is ideal for hikers wanting an earlier-season trip to the mountains. Keep in mind also that this is a multi-use trail, and is heavily used by equestrians and mountain bikers – you should yield to both as you hike this trail.

Click here to reserve the Green Ridge Lookout (good luck!)

The Green Ridge Trail passes under some tall Ponderosa pines

The Green Ridge Trail passes under some tall Ponderosa pines

14 Mar

97. Black Butte

Distance: 4.0 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
Trailhead elevation: 4,887 feet
Trail high point: 6,440 feet
Season: June – October
Best: June – October (avoid hot days)
Map: Green Trails #590 (Sisters)

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS track of this hike
Click here to see a panoramic view from the summit of Black Butte

Everywhere you go south of Mount Jefferson, Black Butte’s conical silhouette is somewhere on the horizon. Set apart and east from the Cascade crest, the view to the top is as magnificent as you would expect; you can see from Mount Adams to Diamond Peak, east to Smith Rock and everything in between. Even better, the view north and south is almost like looking at a road map of the area, something that will appeal to map junkies (like me).

The old cupola building on the summit of Black Butte

The old cupola building on the summit of Black Butte