Metolius River Trails Loop Hike

Hike Distance: 7.3 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 729.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 452 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 68664 feet

We’ve never been to the Metolius River before but had heard great things about it, and we weren’t disappointed.  There are many access points to the trail system, and we chose a parking area near the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.

We had thought, from the maps, that the trail system was only on one side of the river.  However, this is completely wrong as we found out.  There are actually trails on both the east and west sides of the Metolius River.

We started out hiking on the east side of the river until we reached Abbott Butte Road.  We then took the auto bridge to the west side trail and then returned to the Wizard Fish Hatchery.  We did this small loop but we could have gone  about another two miles south to the Sherman campground, which would have added another 4-5 miles to our hike.

The Metolius River is a pristine opal colored river that originates from Black Butte.  The river is a fly fishing heaven and we saw many people trying their best to catch some fish.  The trail had some hikers on it but we had plenty of stretches without people.  That said, there are a multitude of campgrounds along the trail and I suspect this area is crowded in the summer.  We definitely recommend this hike!

This was our last vacation day, but it was filled with visits to amazing places.  We’ll have to get back to these places soon.  I should also mention that we visited the Mt. Bachelor area to assess the snow level and found the Cascade Scenic byway gate was still closed.  I included some pictures of the beautiful scenery in this area. 🙂

Smith Rock State Park Loop Hike

Hike Distance: 8.6 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 721.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1291 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 68212 feet

This is one of the finest areas for hiking in the Central Oregon area.  As such, the crowds can be overwhelming, but on this Saturday it wasn’t too bad with plenty of spaces in the Rim Rock parking area.  I believe the reason for less crowds was that many of the rock walls were still closed for nesting eagles?

We started by taking the Rim Rock Trail north where it meets the Canyon Trail.  The Canyon Trail took us down to the bridge that crosses the Crooked River.  After crossing the Crooked River we took the River Trail clockwise around the park.  Along the way we met a park ranger that had a spotting scope set up for viewing of an Eagles Nest.  It was fascinating to see the chicks up high in one of the fir trees.

As we continued on the River Trail we spent much time taking pictures of the Crooked River and rock walls of Smith Rock.  At about the southern tip of the River Trail we saw a nice waterfall across the river.  We continued north and got increasingly better views of Monkey Face, and also saw rock climbers in the mouth region.  Truly a fantastic site.  The River Trail turns into the Summit Trail at the trail intersection that comes from the Mesa Verde Trail.  The Summit Trail climbs past some private property and switchbacks up towards Gray Butte.  The views of the central cascades continue to improve as you gain elevation.  Hiker traffic is much more sparse on the Summit Trail.  I really enjoy the expansive views that are seen from the Summit Trail, and it didn’t disappoint!

We finally reached the intersection with the Burma Road trail, which is the high point of this loop hike.  Breathtaking is the only word that comes to mind, and I didn’t want to start the descent on the Burma Road Trail. 😦  The Burma Road Trail is just a wide graveled road that also gives expansive views of Smith Rock, and is even more beautiful when done at sunset (amazing orange colors on rocks).

There is a point where the Burma Road Trail descends into the Wolf Tree Trail, and it’s not a nice experience, in our opinion.  Steep scree like conditions that almost requires some use of your hands is what you’ll experience.  Given this situation, we’d recommend going counter-clockwise around this loop because of the poor conditions on this section!

We continued to follow the Wolf Tree Trail and were able to get some fantastic pictures of Smith Rock.  This trail also afforded the best views of rock climbers and was fun to stop and watch.  We soon intersected the bridge over the Crooked River and headed back to our car on the Canyon Trail and Rim Rock Trail.

Hiking Smith Rock State Park must be on your bucket list!  Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to be immersed in the beauty and for taking pictures.  Your adventure here will give you great memories! 🙂

Oregon Badlands Wilderness Hike

Hike Distance: 11.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 713.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 636 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 66921 feet

This is the first day of a long three day weekend vacation.  We chose to head out to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness for its stark desert like beauty.  We started out very late so we weren’t sure what trail we would do, but later opted for this longer loop.

We started at the Flatiron Rock TH and then took the Ancient Juniper Trail, turning left onto the Flatiron Trail until we reached Flatiron Rock.  We spent some time cooling down in the shade in the Flatiron Rock region and then took the Castle Trail due east.  Somewhere along the Castle Trail we veered to the right on what must have been an animal trail (we didn’t intend this).  Thankfully, this wilderness trail reached the Badlands Rock Trail, where we turned right and headed south.  We eventually reached an intersection and turned right onto the Homestead Trail, which headed back toward the TH.

I must say that this hike was fantastic and the weather was cool enough to make this long desert hike an enjoyable experience!   I also included pictures from our drive out from home.