If you're looking for a beautiful, easily accessible, moderately challenging, six mile round trip hike through a variety of riverside terrain in central Oregon, check out the recently opened Whychus Creek trail.
My wife and I learned about it through an informative article in the Sisters weekly newspaper, the Nugget. Craig F. Eisenbeis got us enthused about the trail in his "Experience the 'wild' at the edge of town."
After we took his advice, we were way more enthused. Here's some photos of what we saw.
The northern trailhead is reached from Highway 20 by driving 4.2 miles south on Elm Street, which soon turns into Highway 16. The small parking area is on the right. It's easy to miss, having no sign on the highway. Here's what it looks like as you drive by, preparing to turn around.
As Eisenbeis describes, the three mile hike (each way) features three sorts of scenery, each lasting for about a mile -- or roughly twenty minutes, at our hiking rate. Early on a protected pool offered me a chance to soak already-dusty sandals and give our new dog, Zu Zu, some stick chasing fun.
(Note: our old dog, Serena, is still alive and well. She's just, um, old. We left her at home, since she couldn't have handled this hike, given how slowly and sometimes unsteadily she walks.)
Whoever built the trail did a marvelous job. Kudos to them. Steep rocky spots are quite easily traversed with the aid of expertly placed stones. Still, the hike has to be classed "moderate." It requires some agility from both dogs and humans to navigate.
At first I wanted to take a photo of these rocks because of the color. Then, whenever I looked at the screen of my iPhone's camera I saw a face smiling wryly at me. When I gazed at the rocks camera-less, I couldn't see the image. My wife doesn't see the face in this photo. I sure do. Third eye in the forehead, nose, crinkled smile. A cliff sprite, I guess, speaking only to me (and maybe to you).
When the trail started to head away from the river, toward the southern trailhead next to Highway 16, we turned around. But not before spending a lot of time taking photos of Zu Zu patiently posing on a stump. Remains of the 2010 Rooster Rock Fire are in the background.
Believe me, Angelina Jolie has fewer photos snapped of her at a movie opening than Laurel and I took of Zu Zu on that stump. I can't tell whether Zu Zu was smiling at this point, or snarling "Get me off this goddamn stump or you'll feel the force of my mighty fangs!!"
Photos don't do justice to the falls at the end of the Whychus Creek trail. So I took a short iPhone video. After it was uploaded You Tube told me that it looked shaky and asked me if I wanted to fix it. Being a fan of cinema verite, I said "no." What you see is what me and my iPhone saw.
And what you'll see if you take this hike. Try it; you'll like it.