Photo of Boundary Springs

Boundary Springs - Source of the Rogue River

Central Oregon has its share of spring-fed rivers — the Metolius, the Cultus, the Quinn and Fall River — but none of these enters the world quite so dramatically as the Rogue River at Boundary Springs. Gushing down the hillside over colorful, moss-covered rocks and logs, these headwater springs are unique. A good 2.5-mile hiking trail starts on Forest Service land just north of Crater Lake National Park and follows the river canyon (mostly spared from an encircling 2015 wildfire) upstream to the springs across the Park boundary.
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View of Mt. Mazama Pumice Flow

Tephra from Mt. Mazama's Climactic Eruption

It was one of Oregon’s highest peaks, over 12,000’ in elevation. It was taller than Mt. Hood and more massive than Mt. Jefferson. But in a matter of hours 7,700 years ago, it disappeared in one cataclysmic explosion, sending ash deposits as far away as Canada and hot pumice flows hundreds of feet thick up to 25 miles from today’s Crater Lake. The distinctive, white-colored signature layer of these tephra deposits can be found throughout Central Oregon today, revealing itself at trailside or on riverbanks when least expected.
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Close-up View of Spotted Frog in Marsh

Big Marsh - Paradise for Oregon Spotted Frogs

Once a shallow 2,000-acre lake, which was filled by volcanic ash during the eruption of Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago, Big Marsh today is one of the largest, high-elevation wetland/marshes in the nation. A half-hour drive west of Highway 97 from Crescent, it’s a one-of-a-kind resource supporting a wide diversity of Central Oregon wildlife — from elk, to river otters, to sandhill cranes — plus the largest population of threatened spotted frogs in Oregon. A 2.4-mile cross-country ramble invites visitors to explore this natural wonder.
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View of Old-Growth Fir at Candle Creek

Old-Growth Douglas Firs at Candle Creek

When Central Oregonians think of Douglas firs, we usually envision the majestic coastal firs. But Central Oregon has a distinct inland variety, the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir, which is morphologically and genetically different from its coastal cousin. Occurring from British Columbia south to New Mexico, these cold-hardy trees can grow up to 150’ in height, 6’-8’ in width and can live more than 500 years. A 30-acre grove of these old-growth firs is found on a short, easily-accessible hike at Candle Creek in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
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Photo of the Dry Meadow Fen

Fen Wetlands in the Jack Creek Headwaters

Tucked away in a seldom-visited corner of Fremont-Winema National Forest, just a half-hour drive east of Highway 97 south of Crescent, is a collection of groundwater-fed fens (peat wetlands) supporting some of the richest concentrations of rare and distinctive plants in the Pacific Northwest. Formed in thick deposits of volcanic pumice from the eruption of Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago, these fens are permanently wet year-round, with a fascinating assortment of mosses, sedges, wildflowers and even carnivorous plants.
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