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Beginning at the Opal Creek TH, this hike is on a gravel road through an old-growth forest of cedar trees. This trail takes you over a high bridge to the opal pool and you can loop around and go back through Jawbone Flats which is a fun little historic town to see. It is a great walk along an old road and an opportunity to explore an old mining operation abandoned over a century ago in this ancient forest. There are several little trail junctions that veer off the main trail that lead to swimming holes. Along the way you can also see Slide Falls and Sawmill Falls. This is a popular trail so do not expect to have the entire place to yourself. Parking is regulated due to the popularity of the site. BUT going on a weekday might be a different story. It takes a smidgen over two hours to get there. We'll stop at Rosie's Mountain coffee house along the way to stretch our legs and get provisions for lunch.
Let's go car camping. The Driftwood Campground is located on the backside of Three Creeks lake, 16 miles south of Sisters. The campground is First Come First Served. I'd like to get there early and stake out a few sites. It is a beautiful setting. The lake becomes warmish as the season unfolds. It has a sandy bottom, and the visibility below is very good. I'll update everyone of the weather conditions. Skeeters aren't so much of a factor any more here at the lake. NONE two weeks ago. Bring your floaties, kayaks, paddle boards, and mountain bikes. >Kid friendly >Dog friendly It's gonna be a fun time! Happy Hour at 6pm. We car pool from my house.
The tourists are gone! This trail has to be in my top three in all of Oregon. It offers a little of everything--climbs, mossy trees, mountain, lake views, and a unique shelter. The trail is a very popular and accessible section of the Pacific Crest Trail near Willamette Pass. It is great for summer hiking, swimming, fishing and backpacking, and in the winter it is the perfect trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Believe me, we'll return for a snowshoe adventure. I have only been on this trail twice, once in the wintertime. I can't wait to share that with you. We begin with a 2 mile gradual climb along the PCT (there are no switchbacks). At the top of the hill, we will be rewarded with amazing views of all three Rosary Lakes, Pulpit Rock, Odell Lake, Summit Lake and Diamond Peak. The plan is to camp at or near Maiden Shelter--its an octagonal 2-story log cabin with an unlocked door, a woodstove and solar lights. Its first come, first served. We may get lucky! If not, we'll camp nearby. I'll monitor weather conditions as we get closer. 2100 aeg. We'll need one or two volunteers to drive. We all pitch in for gas.
Steins Pillar is 350 feet tall and is named after Major Enoch Steen, who explored this area in the 1860s. His name was so often misspelled that the misspelling stuck, which is why it is now called Steins Pillar instead of Steens Pillar. The trail starts out flat, then starts gradually climbing. We reach a viewpoint at a switchback where we can see the top of the Three Sisters. The trail levels off, then starts climbing again. We'll pass through a landscape of red-barked ponderosa pines and the occasional jumble of car-size boulders. The trail levels off in a meadow at about the halfway point, then starts descending. We will reach a junction with a very short side trail to a viewpoint. Meander down the side trail to get partial view of your goal, Steins Pillar towering above the forest. Just before we reach the two mile mark, we will pass first one and then another rocky formation on your left. We'll continue to the base of Steins Pillar, which switchbacks down the hill on newly-constructed wooden stairs. It ends at the base of the pillar, where views are limited, but you can appreciate the sheer size of this stone formation. We'll have lunch inside the cave-like opening on the right side of the pillar overlooking the Mill Creek Wilderness. From there you can see another towering rock spire in the distance - the Twin Pillars in the middle of that small wilderness. We'll be carpooling from my house. I need a driver or two to volunteer their car. We will all pitch in for gas. The TH is located approximately 15 miles beyond Prineville.