The Old Railway along the Deschutes River

Deschutes Canyon - Hiking Central Oregon's First Railway

The original railroad surveys of the Deschutes River Canyon, conducted in 1855 by Army engineers, concluded that “the Deschutes Valley is mostly a barren region…separated from the rest of the world by almost impassable barriers.” In fact, at the turn of the century, Central Oregon was the largest territory in the U.S. without a railroad. Only in the early 1900s, when its wealth of ponderosa pine was recognized by commercial interests, was serious rail construction begun south from the Columbia up the Deschutes River. Hikers today can follow a section of this now abandoned rail bed for many miles, with spectacular river and canyon views.
Read More...
Mima Mound with Rock Ring

Mima Mounds - A Mystery on the Shaniko Plateau

In our scientific age, it’s hard to believe that the origins of any landform could still be unexplained, but this is the case with the extensive soil mounds and their encircling rock rings found northeast of Madras on the Shaniko Plateau. Known as mima (my-muh) mounds, several theories have been advanced about their formation, from differential erosion, to Ice Age freeze-thaw cycles, to soil movement by foraging gophers. But no one theory is widely accepted and these unusual land features remain a puzzle to geologists today. Hundreds of acres of this mima mound topography can be explored on BLM land near Shaniko.
Read More...
Photo of Two Spawning Kokanees

Spawning Kokanee at Crane Prairie Reservoir

One magnificent spectacle of nature that recurs every fall in Central Oregon is the spawning of kokanee salmon in the tributary streams of local Cascade lakes. Though an introduced species, these landlocked, lake-dwelling sockeye salmon are no less impressive. Several local streams have kokanee runs in the fall, but three tributaries of Crane Prairie Reservoir — the Upper Deschutes, Cultus and Quinn Rivers — are less-visited, beautiful and easy to access. If looking for an outing on a warm, sunny day in late September or early October, these three kokanee spawning sites are worth a visit.
Read More...
Panoramic View of Fen Wetland

Fen Wetlands near Little Cultus Lake

What the heck are fens? Unlike bogs, which are acidic, low in nutrients and dominated by sphagnum moss, fens are fed by mineral-rich groundwater, creating neutral or alkaline peatlands with a rich diversity of brown mosses, sedges, wildflowers and even carnivorous plants. Along the east slopes of the Cascades in Central Oregon, fens are rare, occurring only between 4,500’-6,000’ in isolated perched aquifers over slow-draining glacial till from the last Ice Age. Two secluded but accessible fens can be found near Little Cultus Lake.
Read More...
Headwater Springs of Fall River

Fall River - Bellwether of Climate Change

Spring-derived streams are fairly common along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon, including the Metolius River, Cultus River, Quinn River, Brown’s Creek and Fall River. The combination of heavy precipitation along the Cascade crest, permeable volcanic bedrock, plus groundwater flow serves to recharge all of these spring-fed streams. But Fall River has been the most extensively studied as a local indicator of climate change — besides having a delightful hiking trail along its banks to explore.
Read More...
 Page 1  >>