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Central Oregon backpacking ideas
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Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Central Oregon backpacking ideas on 09/17/2013 10:15:05 MDT Print View

My boyfriend and I were supposed to go backpacking in the northwest corner of Mt. Rainier NP this week-end. However, the weather is looking pretty sucky. I want to have a back-up plan, and based on the weather reports, Central Oregon near the Sisters area is looking pretty likely--30% chance rain on Saturday, otherwise not too shabby. I have until Tuesday off, and it will take us about 6 hours of driving, so it looks to me like roll out of town and get to the Sisters area, maybe camp at a trailhead on Saturday night, Sunday head out, stay out Sunday night and Monday night, then hike out/drive back Tuesday.

I have very little planning resources for that area, as I've just backpacked in Washington. Any suggestions? We're not in condition for more than about 10 miles a day with about 1,000 ft elevation gain. Thanks!

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
The Eagle Caps/Wallowas on 09/17/2013 21:26:26 MDT Print View

I don't know where you are coming from, but the Wallowas are another option. They tend to be dry and are quite spectacular.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Central Oregon backpacking ideas on 09/18/2013 00:45:51 MDT Print View

The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness just south of John Day is another possibility. Be sure to allow time in your travels to/from to visit the John Day/Fossil Beds National Monument, especially the Painted Hills! Another possibility is the Elkhorn Range just across the Powder River Valley/I-84 from the Wallowas. The Ochocos and Blues aren't as spectacular but have some wilderness areas with pretty hiking (Mill Creek, Canyon Creek, N Fork John Day, Wenaha-Tucannon, the last mostly in SE Washington). Or Steens Mountain. The later in September you go, the more apt you are to run into snow issues at higher altitudes. Last year (I believe) they closed the Steens Mountain loop in late September and had to haul out some snowed-in vehicles. That's unusually early, but it does happen. Steens may be in the desert, but the summit is almost as high as Mt. Hood. It's probably too far for what you've planned, anyway.

Check conditions first with the local ranger districts. (For Steens Mt., the BLM office in Burns.) Also the weather. It's supposed to rain in Oregon, this weekend, too!

There have been plenty of severe thunderstorms/flash floods in Central and Eastern Oregon this year. All over, in fact--this seems to be the year for them! In the Wallowas in September, if it storms it will probably snow (it will melt off), and clear nights will be below freezing. It can be beautiful, though, and the crowds are gone.

Also, keep an eye out for hunting seasons. In some places, special permit seasons start in mid-September. A blaze orange vest that covers your pack might not be a bad idea. General deer season starts in early October and is best avoided altogether.

You might want to check (both forum and field guide) for info on the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/18/2013 00:51:40 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Central Oregon backpacking ideas on 09/18/2013 07:33:38 MDT Print View

I just did a trip in the Three Sisters, very nice.

If you look at weather map

The edge of the green (rain) is right at about Sisters

Stay on the East side of the Cascades and you're better.

Unfortunately, the Wallowas, Elkhorns, and Strawberry have enough elevation they can get rain too.

I hiked around Broken Top which was pretty nice, except there's a 2 mile stretch with no trail, but it's pretty easy. Look at trop reports on That's a little further East so maybe drier.