Sunday, September 25, 2011

Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part IV

Celebrating 1 year of blogging and 100 posts with the Greatest Adventures in America!
Continued from Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 3
From Rim to River, Black Canyon of the Gunnison
#15 Canyoneer from Rim to River on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado


The Black Canyon of the Gunnison... it looks and sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings. It really is another "Grand Canyon"- a 2,000ft deep canyon that's only a quarter of a mile wide at some points. The Gunnison River cuts through the Rocky Mountains leaving a deep scar that holds amazing opportunities for climbing, rappelling, and canyoneering. Although it sounds daunting, there are some non-technical, albeit steep routes from the Rim to the River. You don't need ropes, but you do need some solid boots and joints of steel!
(Left: One of the many vantage points on the rim, Right: the Tomichi Route)
There are several routes down the canyon and each has its own season. You must check-in at the ranger station so you can check the status of each route and develop a plan for descent. Most routes only take a day but some are multi-day descents. Some routes are better when there's snow and ice while others are better in the summer. The Rangers will select a good route for you and you can give them your trip plan. Regardless of your route, the reward of having a 2,000ft canyon to yourself will make the trip worth it!
The REAL Mountain Biking Mecca
#16 Mountain Bike the Slickrock Trail, Moab, Utah

All rise.... it is the Slickrock Trail. It doesn't matter what you've mountain biked before, you're not prepared for the Slickrock Trail. All self-respecting mountain bikers are required to make at least one pilgrimage to the original Mountain Biking Mecca of the Universe. This might not be new information to you, but after mountain biking all across America, I would say that this is really the place to be. Mountain biking across the desert at break-neck speeds up and down slopes you didn't think were possible will put you one step closer to adrenaline-junky nirvana.
We are not worthy! We are not worthy!
In case you have never heard of Moab let me lay it out for you. Moab is a small city in Southeastern Utah. It used to be a mining town but today it exists simply as a base camp for all things adventurous. Its as much as a white-water capital as it is a mountain biking mecca. Arches National Park and Canyonlands are all nearby. You might have seen this small town in the movie "127 Hours" and the infamous Blue John Canyon is also nearby. As for mountain biking, there is the Slickrock Trail, the equally well-know Porcupine Trail and about a hundred other trails. One could spend a month in Moab and not do everything there is to do!
Green Lakes in North Cascades National Park, Washington
#17 Backpack North Cascades National Park, Washington

North Cascades National Park has the distinction of being one of the only parks you can't drive to- you either have to hike in or take a seaplane. Therefore it has the look and feel of Alaska. Massive glaciers and naturally emerald green lakes dot the rugged landscape. Some of Washington's most isolated peaks lie within this wilderness. It is a land that will remain forever wild! My little experience in hiking the Northern Cascades has left me wanting more. I seldom saw another soul and was in good company with all sorts of wildlife. There really are more bears than people out here!
Alpine Wonderland on the route to Mt Hood
#18 Climb Mt Hood, Oregon

Just South of the... North Cascades is when you get back into seeing the volcanic arc that stretches from Washington to Northern California. Mt Hood is, of course, one of America's most frequently climbed mountains so I won't write much more that what's already written. However I do believe it deserves a spot in America's greatest adventures because it is one of the most likely Cascades to erupt in the next 100 years. Having said that, its a good idea to get the most out of it while it lasts! Not that we should live in fear, but as we've learned with Mt Saint Helens, a mountain can lose over 2,000ft of its height with an eruption! At any rate, climbing Mt Hood is just one of the many activities of the mountain. For example, every year intrepid skiers design trails which circumnavigate the mountain which is harder than it seems! There's also the 41 mile Timberline Trail which is a hiking trail circling the mountain. Skilled trail-runners can complete this trail in under 24 hours but it also makes a great backpacking trip!

There's no doubt that Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe is the craziest resort in California
#19 Ski/Snowboard the most Bad-Ass Runs at Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is home to some of the greatest skiing/snowboarding on Earth. Its become an international destination and even Europeans will forsake their Alps once in a while for a chance to ski Tahoe. I lived near Tahoe for nearly 10 years and got to be a "double-diamond" boarder. I have an opinion on every single resort on the lake and I've come up with some of the more harrowing runs that you wouldn't think were actually at a ski resort-
  • "The Wall"- Kirkwood (Considered one of the most difficult runs in Tahoe)
  • "KT-22"- Squaw Valley
  • "The Palisades"- Sugar Bowl
  • "The Face"- Heavenly
  • "The Backside"- Alpine Meadows (Not necessarily technical, but an amazing run)
  • "Strawberry Fields" - Sugar Bowl (Could you think of a better name?)
  • "The Gates" - Sierra at Tahoe (More of an area than a run)
A good or bad sign... depending on your disposition
Continue reading with-


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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part III

Celebrating 1 year of blogging and 100 posts with my Top 50 Adventures in America!
Continued from Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 2
Topock Gorge, Colorado River,
One of the best pictures I've ever taken
#11 Kayak the Topock Gorge, Arizona-California


This adventure was a recent discovery for me and until about a month before I did it was completely unknown! The Topock Gorge is a spectacular section of the Colorado River that is just South of Interstate 40 as it crosses the Arizona-California border. The river winds through a deep gorge and gets a clear, emerald color which contrasts with the surrounding desert. Along this river paddle, you will see two-hundred foot sand dunes, 300 foot canyon walls, a plethora of migrating birds and the rock formations for which the town of Needles is named after.
(Left: Sand Dunes and the Needles, Right: A serene place to kayak)
This is one of the more peaceful places I've ever kayaked. Its river paddling so when you're with the current, you can just let yourself drift and enjoy what there is to see! Most will chose to start near the I-40 Bridge into Arizona. From here, The Devil's elbow is the most scenic section with massive cliffs and a beach or two. You might also spot a couple of the unnamed arches along the river as you float down. Eventually you will move into an estuary-like section before Lake Havasu. This is where you're bound to see the most wildlife. Even when you finally reach Lake Havasu, its mostly pleasant lake paddling. Don't forget to kayak under the actual London Bridge in Lake Havasu City!


My Kayak Trip on the Topock Gorge
Ascending 10,000 ft in a day
#12 Hike the Cactus to Clouds Trail, San Jacinto, California


There are only a few other challenges that compare with completing the Cactus to Clouds Trail in a day. Its a vertical marathon- over 10,000ft of elevation gain in 16 miles. Starting at the Palm Springs Art Museum at 500ft, the trail meanders through 3 different climatic zones as it gains elevation. Topping out at summit of San Jacinto at 10,834ft may be one of the biggest accomplishments a day hiker can do. From the summit you can hike down to the aerial tramway 5 miles away which will take you down the mountain and avoid the extra descent.
(From cactus... to clouds!)
Those who wish to complete the C2C trail should know it is a logistical nightmare. There is a very small window of opportunity when you can complete the trail- autumn is the best season. You HAVE to hit the trail BEFORE 3:00AM. This is ultra-critical; if you wait any longer, the desert heat will incapacitate you somewhere halfway up the mountain. Also, for the first 11 miles of the trail there are NO WATER SOURCES! Literally bring a gallon and a haft of water and some form of electrolytes. People have died attempting this trail and every year Search and Rescue pulls dehydrated hikers off the mountain. The elevation is also serious- drink an insane amount of fluids and don't forget your cold weather gear for the summit.


Guide to Hiking the Cactus to Clouds Trail


Canyonlands National Park, Utah
#13 Roadtrip the Grand Circle Tour, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico


I could go on forever about the glories of Southern Utah but I'd recommend you see it yourself with the Grand Circle Tour. This is an informal name to the area in Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and the four corners area in southwestern Colorado and Northwestern New Mexico. Here you will find the greatest concentration of National Parks on Earth! Five of them are in Utah, the Grand Canyon is in Arizona and then there are other sights such as Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon. It would take perhaps a month to really see everything!
(The greatest concentration of arches and natural bridges)
The Grand Circle has magical, almost mythical feel to it. Ancient cultures derived ways of "waterless farming" in arid parts of the desert. Remnants of once-tall rocky mountains are preserved as monoliths in Monument Vally. Three foot wide canyons will be hundreds of feet deep. It really is a part of the country that you could disappear into. It is by far my favorite part of the country and I return to it every year for adventure and solitude.


Hiking in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Adventures, Misadventures and Guides to Utah
A Mountain Biking Trail cut straight into a Cliff!
#14 Mountain Bike the Flume Trail, Lake Tahoe, Nevada


The Flume Trail of Lake Tahoe is starting to gain the kind of notoriety that Slickrock is in Moab- its a mountain biking classic and single track nirvana! The reason for this trail's fame is because it used to be a log-flume that was cut directly into a cliff. When the log flume was taken out, it was turned into a trail and has evolved to become a mountain biking trail. It will certainly test your grit! On one side you have a several hundred foot drop and on the other you have a sheer cliff face. The trail is just wide enough for handlebars.... hold on tightly!!! This trail is located in Lake Tahoe State Park, Nevada.


Guide to Lake Tahoe's Flume Trail 
Official Website 
Lake Tahoe State Park, Nevada
Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
#15 Explore Western North Dakota


North Dakota... the other Dakota! Yes, this little known state is one of the greatest adventure states I've ever been to. If you've been following me, you might have seen my recent posts about how fascinated I was with this part of the country. In the western part of the state there are limitless possibilities! Like hiking? There's Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Like mountain biking or riding? There's the Maah Dey Hey trail. Like kayaking? There's the Little Missouri River. Like wildlife? Well... then you'll like North Dakota! There are way too many adventures to be listed here, but here are some guides and my page on the state-
Little Missouri River
Why I Love North Dakota and Why You Should Too 
The Maah Dey Hey Trail- Long Distance Riding/Hiking Trail


Keep on reading-

Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 4


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top Outdoor Adventures in America: Part II

Celebrating 1 year of blogging and 100 posts with the Greatest Adventures in America!
Continued from Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 1
Mt Rainier, Contiguous America's Mt Everest
#6 Climb Mt Rainier, Washington

There's no doubt that Mt Rainier is America's most sought-after mountain. Although not the tallest mountain in the country, it is the tallest free standing mountain and volcano which is so massive that it can create its own weather systems. Given its height of 14,411ft, its topographical isolation, and its proximity to the ocean in the Northwest, it is the snowiest place on Earth! Mt Rainier also has some of America's largest glaciers which become the headwaters of several rivers.
 (Navigating the upper icefields and crevass danger)
It takes time and experience to get to the point where you can climb Mt Rainier even up the "easiest route"- Disappointment Cleaver. Scores of people attempt Rainier all year long and even experienced climbers get skunked. This is why it is important to be both confident your abilities as a climber and confident in your ability to make good judgements- 60 people have died for various reasons in the last 30 years. However climbing Rainier still remains an incredible adventure and challenge in glacial navigation and climbing skill.
The Black Hills of South Dakota from Harney Peak
#7 Visit the Black Hills of South Dakota

Many people talk about or have heard of the Black Hills of South Dakota but due to their isolation from any major metropolitan area, only climbers and cross-country road trippers really experience this highly unique mountain range. These mountains are located in the extreme western part of South Dakota and are home to the infamous Mt Rushmore Monuments. Unfortunately most people only see the monument and skip out on the hundreds of hiking opportunites and thousands of rock climbing routes that may only have one or two ascents! The Black Hills also contain the second and fourth largest caves on Earth.

Free roaming Bison in Wind Cave National Park
If you plan on visiting the Black Hills, you must visit Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park. They are located less than an hour from each other and the park service offers cave tours and spelunking adventures. The hiking trail in Wind Cave NP are also completely empty of people but full of wildlife. I saw heards of bison, white-tail deer, wild turkeys and all sorts of life on a four mile hike! South Dakota's High Point, Harney Peak and Custer State Park is also an excellent location for more hiking and exploring. Lastly, this is a rock-climbing mecca. Solid rock and technical routes are abundant. Some local climbers told me that they commonly will climb a route and find out that it was only a second or third ascent! Routes are actively being pioneered. I've written a couple posts about the glory that is in the Black Hills-
Exploring Caves in Washington
#8 Spelunk the Pacific Northwest

Often much of the attention given towards caving and spelunking is focused on the Southeastern states- Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri are prime locations. However the Pacific Northwestern states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho contain some of the longest caves in the country. Lava tubes are the type of cave that is often seen in this part of the country and they are characterized as beeing long, narrow and don't involve a huge amount of technicality. Also, permits are hardly ever needed. Prime locations for spelunking are
There are so many caves in the Northwest that some of them have never been formally mapped. Of course, be extra careful to observe the practices of Leave No Trace!
Driving to Maine from California, somewhere in Utah
#9 Drive Across the Country

One of the nice things about having a really, really big country is that its generated the concept of a cross country road trip! Ever since the formation of the national highway system and Route 66, Americans and visitors have toured across the country for adventure and new perspective on this land. I drove from California to Maine in the earlier part of this year and it was positively one of the greatest experiences of my life. I felt a stronger sense of patriotism after that month-long driving trip and I gained new insights on my homeland. Also, I met all sorts of locals and international visitors along the way!
Through the Rockies!
There are several schools of thought on which is the best route and it really depends on what kind of road trip you want to do. Are you looking for hiking and wilderness? Try a Northern Route through Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Are you a history buff? You might appreciate a trip on I-10 through the heart of Native American History in the Southwest to the heart of Civil War History in the South. So my suggestion is to tailor your road trip to your interests. Of course, don't ever forget that there is something beautiful and exciting in every state- don't skip out on one!

My Road Trip from Maine to California
Sunset upon the Presidential Mountains, New Hampshire
#10 Hike the Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire

Perhaps its been overstated on too many websites, but the Presidential Traverse is the rite of passage in Appalachian Day Hiking. Its also the ultimate test in how much you can endure huge elevation gains and losses in a day while hiking on joint-destroying trails. Nevertheless this challenge brings out thousands of people every summer and winter who are willing to attempt this test. The presidential traverse is a 17 mile long trek that starts at route 2 in the North and ends Crawford Notch State Park. Along the way, you will experience 7 summits and some 6,700ft of elevation gain. This is not to mention the elevation loss which is just as hard! And to top it off, unless you're unfamiliar with the White Mountains, this happens to get some of the worst and wildest weather in America! It can snow at any time in the year and the route is mostly above tree-line. To some this sounds like hell, to others, its a fun filled weekend with a soreness filled Monday. It does make my Top 10 list though!
No shortage of great views!
In case one presidential traverse doesn't do it for you, you can always do it twice!

Alright we are 10 adventures into my top American Adventures... Keep following for more!

Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 3

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part I

Celebrating 1 year of blogging and 100 posts of the wildest adventures in America!

Sunrise on Mt Rainier, Washington
Today, September 21st 2011, is a very special day in the outdoor blogosphere... it is this blog's first birthday! I've officially been blogging for one year! This also happens to be the 100th post! With that in mind, I had to do something epic. Seeing as my first couple of posts were about the top 10 adventures in California, I've decided to kick it up a notch with the Top Adventures in America! As some of you might already know, Backpacker magazine came out with this list a couple years ago and it included some epic trips. Well I'd like to augment that list with the greatest adventures I've ever been on in this country. Of course, this is one of those "the way I see it" lists and Lord knows I have a lot more ground to cover before I ever make a definitive list. So, for what its worth, here are the Top American Adventures (Joe's list)!
Mt Whitney, the most frequently climbed highpoint!
#1 Climb the 50 State Highpoints

Climbing or hiking all the 50 state highpoints is perhaps the greatest and most American adventure one could have. Although that sounds a little overly patriotic, it really is an incredible challenge, a feat of traveling and the best way to experience the varying cultures of this country. Highpoints of the Western states tend to be difficult, technical or remote. Well known favorites such as Mt Rainier and Mt Whitney are climbed by many while Wyoming's Gannet Peak and Montana's Granite Point are so remote and technical that they are seldom climbed by anyone other than highpointers.

(Top Left: North Dakota, Top Right: Colorado, Bottom Left: Maine, Bottom Right: Nebraska)
Although not nearly as lofty, summits in the Midwest can be a traveling adventure as these highpoints are harder to reach and seldom traveled. I highly enjoyed North Dakota's 3,500ft highpoint which offered a beautiful vista on the northern plains. Out east the mountains become higher and somewhat more difficult. The Appalachian mountains from Alabama to Maine are cultural icons and often the centerpiece of a community. The best part of highpointing (as its called) is it will keep you traveling and exploring for a very long time!

The extremely isolated Wheeler Peak in Nevada
#2 Climb America's 57 Finest Ultra-Prominent Peaks

Here's another epic peak-bagging list that deserves mention. America's 57 Finest Summits are the most prominent mountains in America. What's prominence? Essentially, its the measure of how "important" a mountain is. More technically, its a measure of how high a mountain rises with respect to its surrounding terrain. For example- Mt Washington in New Hampshire is an Ultra-Prominent Mountain because its the tallest thing around- even though its not even close to being one of America's tallest mountains. Mt Whitney at 14,495ft, is also an Ultra-prominent mountain. However you wouldn't consider a sub-peak of Mt Whitney to be a "prominent mountain" despite the fact that it might be 14,000ft tall- its just an arm of a taller mountain. Does that make sense? Probably not. But here's a couple of well known and not so well known examples-
      
(Top Left: Mt Washington, NH, Top Right: Grand Teton, WY, Bottom Left: Mt Adams, WA, Bottom Right: Telescope Peak, CA)

The take home message is that these mountains are MUCH more isolated, usually have longer approaches and there's going to be a ton of elevation gain. Personally this is my ultimate goal in mountaineering. Whether you're a serious climber or a recreational hiker, you can find adventure in this list! And of course, it will take you a long time to complete it!


John Muir Trail, California
#3 Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail, California

I've written about the glories of the John Muir Trail so many times that I'm sure some of my consistent readers are tired of it! However I maintain that my 2 week backpack trip through the Sierra Wilderness was one of the most physically challenging and spiritually revitalizing trips of my life. This trail is a well designed route from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney and goes through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. The California Sierras are one of most untrampled places in the country. Along this 210 mile long trail you will travel through part of the state that have never been inhabited. Other parts are impossible to reach without undergoing at least a 5 day trek. To me, its a "California Kashmir". It differs massively from the Appalachian Trail in that you seldom see any signs of civilization outside of Yosemite- for better or worse, you're on your own out here! But if wilderness, solitude, clear rivers and mountain appenglow are things you seek, then Thru-Hike the JMT! Here's my take on the trail-


The Maine Island Trail near Vinalhaven
#4 Kayak the Maine Island Trail, Maine

Unknown to almost everyone except Mainers and hardcore kayakers, the Maine Island Trail has been called the best kayak trail in America. The coast of Maine is dotted with some 10,000-odd islands and most of them are preserved and uninhabited. The Maine Island Trail Association has set up campsites along the 300 miles of Maine's coast just for us Kayakers! Its a paradise for any paddler; there's plenty of islands to explore, little inlets to maneuver into and dozens of tiny lobster towns which are as inviting as they appear! And don't forget Acadia National Park! Maine is as much of a destination for kayakers as Colorado is for mountain climbers. I've written multiple times on this destination and plan on section-kayaking the more northerly parts of the trail in the fall. Here are a couple other blogs I've written on the trail-

Canyoneering "The Cathedral", Pine Creek Canyon
#5 Go Canyoneering in Zion National Park, Utah

Canyoneering is a relatively new sport and the slot canyons of Zion are calling! What is Canyoneering? It is essentially rappelling down thin canyons in the Southwest. It involves less technical know-how than rock climbing and its a relatively easy sport to learn. Its also the best way to experience canyons that are just 7ft wide and hundreds of feet deep! Indeed canyoneering is a sport for the great adventurers.
Left: Deep in Middle Echo Canyon, Right: Beginning of a 100ft Free-Rappel)
As you can see from the pictures, you really have to bundle up and wear a dry suit when you're canyoneering. These canyons are stunningly deep but this means that they receive very little sunlight; snow can last well into July! Also, there are parts that may have deep water so the dry suit helps out!

Well, I hope that got you started! I'm going to be including my posts about past adventures as well as future material such as a more comprehensive guide to the canyons of Zion.
To my faithful readers and google searchers, thanks for making this a great year of blogging and stay tuned for another year of adventure! And as always...

Read. Plan. Get Out There!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Best Outdoor Adventures in Bend, Oregon Part I

Bend, Oregon has become an outdoor adventure mecca for hikers, skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, climbers, backpackers and even spelunkers. It is a perfect, cheap location for a week or weekend outdoor getaway.
(Right: Cascade Highway and the Three Sisters. Left: Mirror Pond, the center of Bend)

Located in Central Oregon, Bend has become has big of an icon in the way of adventure towns as Moab, Utah, Mammoth California, Crestted Butte, Colorado, and North Conway, New Hampshire. Like these other destinations, there's a full range of summer and winter activities for every level of outdoorsman. Theres never any "off-season". 

Bend itself is a mid-sized city of about 75,000 of the healthiest people in the country. Everybody runs, everybody skies, everyone is active! It has been somewhat of a boom-bust city in the last ten years. This does mean that accomidations are generally on the cheaper side and low-budget vacations are possible. Its a town with a soul and enough adventures to keep you coming back as often as you can!
Pilot Butte, another icon of Bend
Overview and Profile of Bend

Bend is located on the leeward side of the Cascade Mountain Range in Central Oregon. It sits at 3,600ft in the High Desert that takes up most of the Southern and Central parts of the state. Technically its considered part of the Great Basin, but there are still pleanty of forests and plains to make you think you're not in a desert. However, you can almost plan on it will being sunny 9 days out of 10 in the summer! Its only a half an hour drive from Ski Resorts and the 10,000ft-Three Sisters Mountains which makes it an ideal ski season destination. The Deschutes River rips through the middle of the city- its a wild and scenic river with opportunites for pleasant hiking and intense whitewater rafting and kayaking.
The Three Sisters from the Air
The city itself is a cultural and economical hub for Central Oregon. The downtown area has a strong but friendly local vibe and all varieties of microbrewries and restaurants to keep you fed and watered. The town's park along Mirror Pond will often have free concerts and local gatherings which are also welcoming to tourists. It classic Western Hospitality!


Top 10 Outdoor Adventures in Bend, Oregon: Map


Here is a map of what I consider to be 10 must-do adventures in and around Bend. I've classified the adventues as green, blue, and red as far as difficulty. Green markers are for easier and more relaxed activities, blue are longer hikes, and red is for the die-hard adventurers. You can get directions for each location using this map

View Bend, Oregon Outdoor Adventures in a larger map
Easy Outdoor Activities

Hike or Run Pilot Butte
Difficulty: Easy
Distance from City Center: 1.8 miles, 5 minutes

Pilot Butte is like a natural observation point of Bend and offers excellent views of the Cascades and the Desert. It rises rather abruptly in the middle of the town and there are several trails on and around it. For the easy hiker, there is a steep but short .7 mile long trail which will take you to the top. Many locals also love to trail run the butte- there's also a trail which circumnavigates it as well. Lastly, there's a paved summit road if you'd rather drive up. Which every way you chose to climb Pilot Butte, you'll be happy you did- most days you can see Mt Hood which is over 90 miles away!
Belham Falls, Descutes River
Hike or Mountain Bike the Deschutes River and Belham Falls Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Distance from City Center: 15 miles, 30 minutes

The Descutes River and surrounding forests are the reason Bend exists. Although the logging industry is no longer as much of the town, the heart and soul of Bend still flows from this wild river! Further upstream from Bend is Belham and Dillon Falls which are part of the larger Newberry Volcanic National Monument. The forest service has placed a great hiking trail which follows the river along the scenic and very turbulent falls. Open to hikers and mountain bikers, the hike to the falls is less than 2 miles, round trip. There are also perhaps hundreds of single-track mountain biking trails which also permeate the forest. Other than the falls, you will catch glimpses of the massive and ancient lava flows which have continually shaped the way the river runs. At times it seems as if the river is the only thing bringing life to the otherwise lifeless lava flows! Hiking the Descutes River is one of those "why-go-to-Egypt-and-not-see-the-Pyramids" kind of thing!
View from the Summit of Lava Butte
Easy Scenic Hiking on Lava Butte
Difficulty: Easy
Distance from City Center: 13 miles, 20 minutes
Driving Directions

Lava Butte is a little outside of town and is the best place to see the massive lava flows that cover the landscape of Central Oregon. The road that takes you to the top is paved and accesible by all vehicles except possibly longer RV's. This Butte has a small crater at the top which you can hike around in 20 minutes. Similar to Pilot Butte, the summit views will give you perspective on the Cascades and the arid desert of the state. You will be able to see the Three Sisters Mountains, Mt Bachelor, and some of the less famous Central Cascades from this viewpoint as well. The High Desert Museum is also near the butte which is an interpretive center showcasing the natual and human history of the area.

This should be enough to get you started! If you're a more hardcore adventurer, don't worry- my next post will highlight some of the climbing and big hiking opportunites of Central Oregon.

Read. Plan. Get Out There!