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
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.