Fremont National Forest Overview
East of the Cascade Mountains, encompassing 1.2 million acres in the high-elevation lava tablelands of south-central Oregon, lies the largely undiscovered Fremont National Forest. The Oregon-California border marks the Forest's southern boundary, while its eastern boundary includes part of the Warner Range.
The Fremont lies within a wide semi-arid highland belt known as the "high desert country." Here habitats range from near-desert to lush coniferous forest—beautiful lands rarely frequented by tourists. Abundant stands of fir occur at higher elevations. Drought-tolerant tree species such as juniper and ponderosa pine live in the Forest as well as white fir and lodgepole pine.
The high and rocky Gearhart Mountain Wilderness is the Fremont National Forest's only wilderness. The Slide Rock Mountain Geologic Area is a particular place of interest in the Fremont. Slide Rock is the scene of a massive rockslide on the north face of a volcano. The Forest also includes two Wild and Scenic Rivers, the North Fork of the Sprague and the Sycan.
Stark, pristine, and lonesome, the Fremont National forest is Oregon's outback, the ideal place for a capable, self-reliant outdoorsperson.
Hike the Hanan Trail
This eight-mile National Historic Trail crosses the divide between the Great Basin and the Pacific drainages on the top of Bear Creek Rim. Archaeological evidence suggests that portions of this trail follow a prehistoric seasonal migration route used by the American Indians to travel from the Chewaucan Basin to Sycan Marsh. Today, this is a wonderful place to take a break from the modern world and sit on the edge of the rim to soak in the great views of the forest, Summer Lake basin, and the mountainous high desert off to the east.
Bike the Fremont National Recreation Trail
This trail, when completed, will run the full length of the Fremont National Forest, approximately 175 miles. It will eventually connect the Desert Scenic Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Currently, the trail is 150 miles and offers opportunities to cycle through every kind of environment the forest has to offer, from high desert juniper and sage-covered slopes with brightly colored lichen-splashed rock outcrops, to park-like open stands of mature ponderosa pine. Distant panoramic vistas from lofty vantage points are found throughout this scenic route and seasonal wildflowers abound. The trail ranges from easy to moderate in difficulty with most grades under 10 percent.
Fish the Chewaucan River
Since the Fremont is such a lightly trafficked forest, the condition of its lakes and streams are excellent. The Chewaucan (pronounced she-walkin') is full of redband trout, a subspecies of rainbow trout unique to the Great Basin. The speciation that resulted in the evolution of the redband was a result of the internal drainage system of the Great Basin. The redband is an excellent fish, and one you won't find anywhere else. For lures, use roostertails mepps, dry and wet flies. There's no one spot to pick out—the whole river provides excellent fishing.
Ski the Warner Canyon Nordic Trail
Located in the Warner Canyon area, this beautiful 37-mile loop offers 15-20 percent grades, with plenty of level country in between. The trail winds around the Camas valley, through stands of mature ponderosa pine, white fir, and lodgepole pine.
Climb the Palisades
Rock climbers head for Gearheart wilderness area, where they can find Palisades Rocks. The vertical climb begins at Lookout Rock.
Spot Some Wildlife
While visiting the forest, look for mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, and pronghorn antelope. Several varieties of trout inhabit Forest lakes and streams, and a few lakes also support warm-water fish, such as largemouth bass. Waterfowl such as Canada geese, whistling swans, and mallards are frequently seen. The Forest supports small populations of some of the larger predators, including black bear, mountain lion, and bobcat. Look for bald eagle, as well.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication