First bit of Oregon hiking advice: buy the 2007 edition of William Sullivan's "100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades." We had the first edition. The $16.95 I forked over last Sunday for the third edition at the Paulina Springs Book Company was money well spent.
Because it has a dozen new hikes and other fresh features. Which gets me to my second bit of advice: turn to page 82 and follow the directions to the start of the Alder Springs trail.
If you don't yet have the book, here's Sullivan's instructions.
To find the trailhead from downtown Sisters, take Highway 20 east to the far edge of town and fork left towards Redmond on Highway 126 for 4.6 miles. Then turn left on Goodrich Road for 8.1 paved miles. Along the way the road zigzags and changes name, but keep going. When you reach a marker for milestone 7, turn left on gravel road 6360 and pass through a green gate. Follow this one-lane track 4.1 miles, turn right at an "Alder Springs" pointer, and take a rough gravel road 0.8 mile to a parking turnaround at road's end.
And a posed photo. Where, Praise Dog!, Serena's ears are actually (and rarely) standing up. She looks like more than the 50% German Shepherd that she is.
I carted along my GPS receiver. Total trip: 6.16 miles. Moving time: 2 hrs 32 min. Moving average: 2.4 mph. Stopped time: 1 hr 00 min. Total ascent: 1112 feet (felt like more, when we were in the sun). Maximum elevation: 2615 feet.
We stopped a lot for various reasons.
A sign-in sheet at the trailhead had frequent mentions of "saw rattlesnake," "saw big rattlesnake," and such. Whenever Serena seemed overly interested in a pile of rocks quite a ways from the trail we paused and whistled for her. Wasn't interested in carrying a 70 pound dog with a snakebite back to the car.
I also stopped to take lots of photos. But one of the biggest contributions to our stopped time (aside from the Deschutes River resting) was Laurel's frequent scanning of mountainsides for cougars. She's absolutely determined to see one, though it's unlikely that we ever will.
And I'm not even sure that this was cougar country. Regardless, it was beautiful Central Oregon country.
The road to the trail head is passable with any sort of car. It's bumpy, but not at all outrageous. So try the Alder Creek hike if you're in the area. You'll like it.