Day 4 Spring Vacation – Deschutes River Trail Hike South from Lava Island TH

Hike Distance: 8.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 545.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 605 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 71507 feet

This trail is new to us and we ended up going there on a whim.  All I can say is that this trail took us by surprise and offered a great trail system with extensive and fantastic view of the Deschutes River!  There were plenty of lava features, rapids, a waterfall and a great trail system.

I should mention that we took a quick drive to the Mt. Bachelor Ski area to see the status of the snow there.  There were low clouds so we never saw the tops of any peaks.  There was still plenty of snow but it seemed a bit low, to me, for this time of year.  I included a couple of pictures there.

It turns out that the Deschutes River Trail is over 12 miles long!  It also turns out that there are three trails that extend along this distance; one for hiking, biking and horse back riding (per literature I read).  This trail is in close proximity to Bend, OR is very and evidently access is available almost year round.  Although the crowds weren’t excessive while we were on the trail, it is a crowded trail system according to the forest service literature, and I can understand why.

We met an interesting gentlemen named Chuck and had the pleasure of walking and talking with him during our entire 4 mile outbound hike.  We found that we had so much in common when talking about our hiking adventures and about many other topics.  Such great conversation and we wish him well on his journey, and perhaps we’ll meet or hear from him again.

At the end of our hike we had planned to drive to Sisters, OR to enjoy that great Italian food at the R Spot restaurant.  The food was just as excellent on this night as it was the first time!  There were many more people there this time but the wait wasn’t very long.  We also had a great conversation with the restaurant owner and he is such a wonderful person.  Definitely worth stopping here if you get a chance, in our opinion.

We so enjoyed this hike that we plan to come back and complete the trail, but at a time when it’s likely to be less crowded.  It’s definitely worth coming here to view such exceptional scenery. 🙂

Day 3 Spring Vacation – Smith Rock State Park Hike

Hike Distance: 8.4 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 537.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1269 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 70902 feet

Knowing that today I would be going over 12,000 miles toward my goal I decided that Smith Rock State Park would be a great place to accomplish this!  I feel very fortunate and thankful that my body has held up for all these years of hiking and will continue to work hard to keep it in the best shape possible.  I’ve had plenty of hiking related health issues, over the years, but have always sought medical help to make sure they didn’t have a long term impact.

Smith Rock is one of Oregon’s premiere outdoor attractions and has many miles of hiking trails and is a popular destination for rock climbing.  The gorgeous Crooked River meanders through a beautiful landscape of volcanic rock.  The rust color of the rock is further enhanced at sunsets, when it can turn a bright orange.  A major attraction for rock climbers is that there are several thousand climbs and contains an amazing tower called Monkey Face.

All the attractions offered by this park results in massive crowds, especially in the summer.  Since it was spring break for the state of Washington (most of Oregon was the previous week) the crowds were less than it could have been.  That said, it seams that most of the crowds stay in the rock climbing areas in the center of the park or are limited to hiking the Misery Ridge Trail.  As a result, we were fortunate to see a vastly reduced crowd for much of our hike around the periphery.

We started out the hike by heading down to the bridge over the Crooked River and then continued around the park in a counter-clockwise direction.  We chose this direction as there is a very steep section covered in scree that is much easier to ascend then descend.  Also, by going counter-clockwise we got the majority of the elevation gain out of the way in the first few miles.

In the first few miles the views of the park and snow covered peaks of the Central Oregon Cascades is breathtaking!  The haze obstructed the view a bit but many the major peaks were visible from Mt. Jefferson down past South Sister.  Truly a view to take in and burn into your soul!

After reaching the high point of the outer loop trail we came to a junction that goes across the north side of the park.  The views of the mountain range, on this north side, are fantastic.  We also got many great views of Mt. Jefferson from here.

After traversing the north side of the park we came around to the west side.  From here we had many nice view of the Crooked River and also saw Monkey Face.  There were many people climbing Monkey Face and we stopped to watch and take some pictures.  We also spent some time just enjoying the gentle flowing of the Crooked River!

We finally wrapped around to the south side of the park and then made our way toward the bridge.  It’s in this area that we saw most of the rock climbers, and stopped to watch and take pictures.  It’s fun to watch the rock climbers but we have no desire to participate in this activity, but understand why so many people do.

We finally got back to our car and were so satisfied with this hike.  The weather had been on the warmer side, with some wind.  This will definitely be a regular stop for us when in the area! 🙂

Day 2 Spring Vacation – Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Hike Distance: 10.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 537.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 474 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 69633 feet

Such odd weather on the way to the Tumulus Trail, on the north end of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.  Temperatures in the high 30’s resulted in some blowing hail pellets, but nothing stuck.  Since it started out as a cold and windy day we dressed for the conditions.

The trailhead is a large gravel area and the trail has an ATV barrier.  This portion of the trail follows a large canal that had no water flowing.  After about 1.7 miles we reached the true Tumulus trailhead.  There are also some markers indicating the wilderness boundary.

We followed the Tumulus trail until we reached an intersection with the Black Lava trail.  Turning right allowed us to make a large loop.  Our return to the Tumulus trail was on the Basalt trail.

As the day went on the clouds increasingly cleared and allowed for some awesome views of the snow covered Central Cascades mountains!  Most of the high peaks were seen at various points on the hike.

There were no flowers yet but the ancient Junipers and desert plants are always beautiful.  I took tons of pictures on this amazing hike.  Only one guy, and his dog, were seen the entire day!  Such an awesome place for solitude and beauty. 🙂

Day 1 Spring Vacation – Metolius River Trail Hike

Hike Distance: 7. miles        Yearly Hike Distance: 518.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 474 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 69159 feet

My wife has a week of spring break from her job and we originially had a five day vacation planned for Mt. Vernon, just north of Seattle Washington.  At the last moment, we decided to change these plans to a Central Oregon Cascades vacation, mostly due to the anticipated warmer and drier weather.

I wasn’t sure of the weather we would experience so decided to take the Santiam Hwy past the Willamette Pass ski resort.  Our lodging was at the Best Western in Redmond, Oregon.  It was warm enough for most of the drive but as we travelled east on the highway, and ascended in elevation, it got continuously colder.  What started as rain turned to a blizzard, as we approached the pass.  Thankfully, the snow wasn’t sticking on the road, and there was quite a bit of traffic to keep the surface warm.

I didn’t think we’d be able to hike on the Metolius Trail as it isn’t far past the ski resort, but it’s amazing how about 10 miles can make such a difference.  There was absolutely no snow on or off the roads leading to the Metolius Trail.  In fact, the rain had stopped but the sky still looked forboding when we started.

The main road leading to the Metolius River is nice but the side road leading to the trail was a bit bumpy, but passable.  There were quite a few cars and people at the trailhead, which surprised us a bit.

At the beginning of the trail there was a wide and huge spring just coming out of the hillside where it poured into the Metolius River.  I was amazed at how much water was spewing from the ground!  The first mile of the trail followed along the river and gave spectacular views of its opal colored water.  It was so clear that you could easily see the bottom.  So much to photograph on this beautiful trail.

After the first mile the trail ascended higher above the river but still had spectacular views of the river below.  There were also nice views of the surrounding hills.  I couldn’t get enough of this trail!

At about 2.5 miles out we reached the Wizard Falls Hatchery.  I had expected this to be about 3.5 miles out, from the online hike info I obtained, but this wasn’t true.  We used the washroom there but didn’t go to the fish hatchery.  We continued hiking past the falls area, on the Metolius Trail, for a while but turned around after about 3.7 miles so we could make it to the hotel before dark.

When we got back to the trailhead there were no cars or people there.  We only saw one woman, and her dog, on the entire trail back to the car.

While driving toward out hotel we decided to stop off in Sisters, Or for dinner, as it was getting late.  The only desirable, and open, place to eat was an Italian restaurant called Rspot.  It was rated 4.9 stars on google and we hoped it lived up to the rating.  When we went in they had intended on closing a bit early but invited us to stay.  To summarize our experience, it was the best lasagna we had ever tasted, hands down!!!  And, the cheese bread that came with it was on par with the lasagna!  The amazing part is that the meals are so big that the owner recommended we split the meal in half for us.  Carol had a meat sauce and I a marinara.  We weren’t hungry until lunch the next day.  A spoiler:  w went back later in the trip, and it didn’t disappoint. 🙂

The trail was in excellent shape and a pleasure to hike.  An amazing start to what turned out to be a great vacation, and more to come about that in the coming trip reports! 🙂