Deschutes National Forest
|Sparks Lake, Deschutes National Forest. (Robert Glusic/Photodisc/Getty)|
The Deschutes, in central Oregon, was named for the river that runs through it. French Canadian fur trappers called the river “Riviere des Chutes,” meaning River of Many Falls; the name was later shortened to Deschutes.
These early explorers and trappers followed a wild river of waterfalls into a primeval forest of ancient ponderosa pine and shield-shaped volcanoes and traveled deep into the labyrinth of abysmal, glacial-carved canyons. Today, outdoor recreationalists pursue the 1.6 million-acre Deschutes for its wide variety of recreational opportunities.
Rock climbers strategically tether themselves to sheer volcanic cliff walls as they crawl vertically like spiders. Daredevil kayakers and rafters dare to plummet down the Deschutes River’s rapid-fire succession of Class IV and V whitewater and harrowing do-or-die waterfalls. Anglers, with their rubber waders and fly rods, descend into calmer sections of the Deschutes to battle with steelhead, kokanee, whitefish, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Spelunkers explore the abundant caves in the region, including the Edison Ice Cave and the Arnold Ice Cave.
The forest was part of the Cascade Forest Reserve established in 1897 and emerged as the autonomous Deschutes National Forest in 1908. It covers an area that is twice as large as the state of Rhode Island. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that the forest has been inhabited by humans for some 9,000 years.
Hike to the Black Crater
The 3.8-mile Black Crater Trail is a difficult trudge up the north side of the crater that runs through a thick stand of mountain hemlock. As the trail ascends from 4,900 feet to 7,251 feet, it emerges onto open slopes of cinder. A rocky outcrop at the summit was once used as a fire lookout, and offers worthy hikers a knock-your-socks-off view of North Sister, Mount Washington, and the McKenzie Pass lava flows. The panorama extends west over the crest to the Upper McKenzie Valley, east over Central Oregon to Prineville, and as far north as Mt. Adams.
Bike Phil's Trail
Who's Phil? The local fat tire community knows that Phil means technical singletrack that snakes its way through a thick forest of ponderosa pine. The Bend area is renown for kick-butt biking, but the nine-mile Phil's Trail is something otherworldly as it passes bizarre pumice pits. Elevations hover, on average, just above 4,000 feet. And the trail doesn't see too much tread. You can also experiment with some of the short connector trails that branch off like Voodoo Spur, Razzle, Frazzle, and Dazzle. Prepare yourself for the harrowing downhill finish at the end. And so who's this Phil fellow?
Raft Deschutes Waterfalls
Suspense lurks at every corner when floating a whitewater serpent that can change on you suddenly from Class I to Class V rapids. French explorers called it Riviere des Chutes and intended no hyperbole when they deemed it the River of Falls. This river resembles a roller coaster of whitewater as it races along for 87.4 miles from Little Lava Lake to Bend. But make no mistake, this ain't no Coney Island; expect the real and the raw as you plummet down a series of harrowing waterfalls like Pringle Falls, Tetherow Logjam, Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Island Falls.
Ski a Shield Volcano
Skiing the Cascades will rock your world. And why not ski or snowboard down a shield volcano while you're at it? Mount Bachelor is a shield-shaped volcano situated in the Three Sisters area and offers cross-genre skiing: Nordic and downhill. Snowboarders can surf half-pipes, perfecting tricks in the volcano's snowboard park. We recommend you check out the following Nordic trails: Dutchman Flat, Edison Butte, Skyliner/Meissner, Swampy Lakes, and Vista Butte.
Cruise the Cascades
The Cascades Lake National Scenic Byway (Oregon State Highway 46) follows a route traveled by early Northwest explorers including John C. Fremont and Kit Carson. Originally called Century Drive because it was 100 miles long, engineering improvements have shortened the road to 87 miles long. Another car cruise to consider is Highway 97 that skirts the Newberry Crater—the largest ice age volcano in Oregon. Ogle at a beguiling lava flow of obsidian that resembles black glass.
Saddle up on Crater Rim
The Crater Rim Horse Trail meanders into the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which sits at the heart of the Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District. The trail traverses rugged desert, mountain terrain, and edges along the rim of volcanic craters. Other trails that can be accessed within the monument include Lost Lake Trail and Paulina Lakeshore Trail.
Camp Summit Lake
Summit Lake Campground, located within the Crescent Ranger District, is strategically situated near the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area. Awesome views of Diamond Peak beckon campers to explore the nearby Diamond Peak Wilderness where trails ascend the slopes of volcanoes.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication