The Oregon Desert Trail is just that, complete with canyons and rattlesnakes

Though Oregon is often depicted in terms of Douglas fir-filled forests, the truth is that half the state is a water-starved desert. It is pierced by the Oregon Desert Trail, a 750-mile, W-shaped path that weaves through the state’s most arid landscape. The trail shows off some of the state’s unsung attractions, including the Oregon Badlands, Lost Forest, Owyhee Canyonlands and picturesque Steens Mountain, a single mountain that stretches more than 9,000 feet high and 50 miles north to south.

Created by the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) conservation group as a way to spur appreciation for the lands it is trying to protect, the trail is unusual in many ways. A big one: It isn’t really a trail. Waypoints on a map will help guide you, but the route isn’t marked. One-third of the route is cross-country, so a GPS device and compass skills are necessary; finding your own way gives the journey a choose-your-own adventure quality.

Carving through the least-populated areas of the state, the trail is also remote — but that’s part of its appeal. Wildlife biologist and thru-hiker Sage Clegg, the first person to hike the trail end-to-end, said she really only saw other people when she went into a nearby town to resupply. Because she’s witnessed hikers clogging the Pacific Crest and Appalachian trails, she appreciated the contrast. “I love a lonely trail,” she said. “It helps me be able to interact with the natural world as if it were something that I could actually communicate with.”

Read full story…


Similar Posts: