View Full Version : Oregon backpackers - where should I go?

27-Mar-2007, 10:53
Planning a shakedown cruise for Memorial Day, and want to do a one-night backpacking trip with the 4x5. Hope to find lots of wildflowers, natural beauty, etc.

Thinking of either Eastern Oregon (Hells Canyon, Umatilla, John Day) or Southern Oregon (Rogue River, Bandon area, Illinois River, etc.)


Kerry L. Thalmann
27-Mar-2007, 11:36

A little closer to home, the Gorge is beautiful in late May. The popular trails will be crowded on Memorial Day weekend, but if you get far enough from the trailhead, it shouldn't be too bad.

The southern coast would also be a great option, but a bit far to drive for a one-nighter. The northern coast also offers some possibilities, but will be more crowded on the holiday weekend.

The Olympic Peninsula up in Washington is another fine place to go in the Spring. I've done some backpacking on wilderness coast section of Olympic NP as well as the rain forests. If you go, just be sure to bring rain gear. Something like Enchanted Valley would be a good one-nighter. The trailhead isn't TOO far from PDX, but again it might prove to be a popular destination on the holiday weekend.


27-Mar-2007, 12:36

Thanks - although I should be more specific. I am only planning on backpacking one night, but traveling 3-4 nights. So an area that offers a combination of backpacking options as well as day-hikes is ideal.

27-Mar-2007, 13:07
The Goat Rocks in Washington are beautiful as well. Lots of trails and views of Mt. Adams, Rainier and St. Helens, two to three hours north of Portland. I'd check where the snow level is before committing as there still could be plenty in early June.

Brian Ellis
27-Mar-2007, 22:13
I'll leave it up to you as to the logistics of this, but among the choices you have in Central Oregon are interesting late afternoon/everning landscapes on the drive from the Peter French Barn to Diamond (spend a night in the Diamond Hotel, quaint little old hotel, good food but the timing of the meals isn't conducive to photography so it's good to bring your own food), the Diamond Craters Natural Area west of the Peter French Round Barn has some good stuff, the Steens area is good but the road up the Steens mountain will probably still be mostly closed on Memorial Day. The Peter French Round Barn itself is a fascinating structure but not much to photograph that hasn't been photographed already by a million tourists.

One of my favorties stretches of roadside landscape in central Oregon is along 97 northeast out of Madras and then along 293 to Antelope. You can photograph a few old buildings in Antelope, then from there it's about 10 miles to Shaniko, which may or may not have opened up by Memorial Day, in the winter and early spring it's pretty much deserted and boarded up. Then backtrack down to Antelope (or skip Shaniko entirely if an old deserted town and buildings aren't your thing) and continue on 293 north out of Antelope, some very nice landscapes and vistas along that part of 293 into the Clarno unit of John Day. From there you can access the town of Fossil and then the Painted Hills in John Day (best late in the afternoon but worth photographing any time), then if you like weird little old towns check out some of the buildings and people in Mitchell about 10 miles from the Painted Hills, then drive from the Painted Hills to Bend.

If you like waterfalls there's a bunch in the Bend area, some of which probably won't be accessable by Memorial Day but Salt Creek Falls and Steel Head Falls in Crooked River Ranch just north of Terrabonne will be (you'll have to ask for directions in Crooked River Ranch to find Steel Head Falls, they're easy to get to but not well marked or publicized, it's a half mile easy hike from the parking area to the falls with some interesting cliffs along the way). Smith Rock State Park outside of Terrabonne is pretty nice for cliffs, rocks, and water with easy to moderately difficult hiking, the drive from Bend to Sisters has some nice mountain scenery in the distance if the clouds are right, you could then head west from Sisters on 20, then 126 (242, which looks like a more direct route from Sisters to 126, will be closed on Memorial Day) will take you to Sahalie Falls. The falls themselves are only a few yards from the road but they're in an unusually nice setting and from them you can hike along the Mackenzie River for almost as long as you like. That trail should be fine by Memorial Day. Continue from Sahalie Falls into Eugene and from there take I5 back to Portland.

This all involves a lot of driving and not much hiking so it may not be what you have in mind but for much of the drive you'll see things worth photographing so it's not like you're just driving to get from Point A to Point B.

3-Apr-2007, 15:52
I wouldn't even HESITATE if I was in your shoes, and would drive the 5 hours (not bad at all) to the Olympic beaches. Dayhikes galore, easy usage of your 4x5, and if you want a KILLER overnight destination that won't be crowded, give me a PM.