Places to See in Central Oregon

Found 28 blog entries about Places to See in Central Oregon.

Iron Mountain is a Must Do Hike for Many

Iron Mountain

We first heard about Iron Mountain 5 years ago when a friend told us about this amazing hike in the Central Cascades off Hwy 20 near Tombstone Summit. When we took the hike, it was past the peak time for the annual wildflowers, but this year the flowers were blooming and the views were stunning.

If you have never hiked Iron Mountain before and are up for several miles, we suggest you park at the Tombstone Summit parking lot, walk 15 minutes through the beautiful nature trail which begins at the end of the lot (bear left down the trail off the gravel road), and then carefully cross the highway to the start of the Cone Peak Trail.  This trail takes you gradually up in elevation through old growth forest

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Newberry National Volcanic Monument's Lesser Known Hikes

Cinder Butte Trail

Most Central Oregonians know what a wonderful place to camp, fish, and hike Newberry National Volcanic Monument is. Paulina Falls and the Obsidian Trail are easy, short hikes to beautiful views and interesting geological formations and are well used by visitors to the monument.  However, probably a hike few take is the Crater Rim Trail which is 21 miles in total length and traverses the entire rim of the crater. We have never taken the Crater Rim Trail all the way around, but we have hiked from Cinder Hill campground up to the Crater Rim Trail and 3/4 mile along this to the Cinder Hill Viewpoint several times. The elevation change from East Lake to the Crater Rim Trail is roughly 1000 feet,

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Painted Hills - Part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Painted Hills

Known as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, the Painted Hills is series of hills with outstanding colors. Located roughly 86 miles northeast of Bend close to Mitchell, Oregon, the hills get their colors from the geology of the area over 35 million years. The combination of river flood plain, tropical forest, volcanic ash, and time has resulted in the color striations of the hills. Colors of red, green, orange, tan, and even lavender all provide a beautiful representation of millions of years of changing climate and geological upheavals. The hills monument cover over 3000 acres and are the most visited of the John Day Fossil Beds. Several easy hikes enable visitors to view the hills

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Sparks Lake Not Yet Ready for Visitors

Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake is one of our favorite Central Oregon places to take visitors to showcase why we love where we live.  Located off the Cascade Lakes Highway, the views of Broken Top and South Sister from the Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail are spectacular and the lake is usually filled with non-motorized boats and paddle boards during the summer months.  It is one of our favorite places to go, especially since the Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail is handicap accessible which makes it a fabulous place for us to take elderly parents.

We drove up to Sparks Lake today hoping to catch some mountain views between the clouds and late snow showers. However, the views did not come out and the weather remained cool and overcast.

Sparks Lake

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Alder Springs

In all the years we have lived in Central Oregon, we have never hiked to Alder Springs. In fact, we didn't even know it existed until recently.  Flowing into lower Whychus Creek which starts at Broken Top and merges into the Deschutes River, Alder Springs is an oasis in the midst of the High Desert. 

There are two trail heads you can drive to in order to begin your hike to Alder Springs.  Both trail heads have sketchy 4 wheel drive dirt roads which is probably why few take these hikes. We took the least rough road located out of Sisters to our trail head which resulted in a longer 3.8 mile hike one direction bordering Whychus Creek much of the way.  We saw no one on this hike until we reached Alder Springs and at times the trail was hard to find.

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Cinder Crater HikeOn May 16, 2020 we returned to Newberry Crater to enjoy the newly reopened monument. We traveled as far around East Lake as we could, stopping at the boat ramp parking near the lodge as the road was blocked past that. We walked past the barrier through the empty East Lake campground until we came to the Cinder Hill trail head.  We have hiked this trail before several years ago and looked forward to doing it again.  However, roughly 1.5 miles into the hike, we encountered snow covering the trail and although we were able to continue at least 1/2 mile further, we reached a point where trail markings were no longer visible.  Rather than risk getting lost, we retreated and instead drove back to the Little Crater Hike - the cinder cone between Paulina and East

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Overlook Mountain Has Panoramic Cascade Views

Overlook MountainWith views from Mount Adams in the north to Diamond Peak in the south, the stunning panorama of much of the Cascade mountain range is truly breathtaking from the top of Overlook Mt. 

On Saturday, May 9, 2020 we took the 7 mile loop from the parking lot off Canyon Creek Road and hiked up through old growth forest to the top of Overlook Mt, stopping along the way to check out the interesting ruins of the Mother Load Mine (cinnabar used to make mercury) before climbing the 1535 feet it takes to reach the summit. During the hike we had to cross snow fields regularly, getting both our feet and lower legs wet in the soft snow. But we saw some beautiful views of the Ochocos as we climbed and enjoyed seeing many

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Black Butte Provides for Stunning Views and a Great Aerobic Workout

Black Butte Hike

During the Covid-19 Pandemic with many of the most popular trails shut down, we have been looking for places to hike that may still be open and accessible this time of year. Yesterday we hiked Black Butte Trail for the first time. We have lived in Central Oregon since 1985, but have never attempted this hike before. The drive to the trail head was over 5 miles of dirt road (Forest Service Road 1110), after leaving paved Forest Service Road 11 with that last mile of road very rough. But we discovered that this is a very popular hike and the parking lot was full; forest passes are required to park.

Black Butte Hike

We had had a light dusting of snow the night before, so our hike started in the

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Fast Flowing River, Springs and Easy Walk

Metolius River Hike

We have lived in Central Oregon since 1985.  During this time we have never hiked the Metolius River until this weekend. The day was overcast and light rain came and went. When we started the hike, we only saw one person for the first 2 miles - a fisherman casting his line in a quiet place on the river.  

We started our hike at the Canyon Creek Campgound at the West Metolius Trailhead and followed the river downstream over 2.5 miles until we reached the Wizard Falls fish hatchery.  The hatchery was closed due to Covid-19 and the bridge over the river was blocked. However, since we were on the hatchery side of the river, we walked on the bridge to view the beautiful blue water of Wizard Falls before

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With Oregon State Parks Closed, Try Something Different

Gray Butte

Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Central Oregon five weeks ago, we have been looking for places to hike which are still fairly easy to access yet not subject to closure restrictions. This weekend we found Gray Butte.  Every Central Oregonian knows iconic Smith Rock with its fabulous rock formations and the destination of many rock climbers from around the world. We have often hiked in this state park and enjoyed watching those climbing and rappelling down Monkey Face or the other cliffs many times. We have climbed Misery Ridge and enjoyed hiking many of the trails as well. One path we have never hiked before, however, is the looming Gray Butte immediately to the east of Smith Rock - although we

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