IMG_6252If you’re looking for an fairly easy hike that still takes you into some of the region’s most beautiful country, visit the Metolius River in the Camp Sherman area. Or, maybe you just want a nice scenic dive that will let you see some of the most beautiful parts of Central Oregon? This could be what you are looking for. Sound good? Well grab your favorite Hydration Pack or Hydroflask, check out some hiking tips, and hit the trail!

The Metolius River trail is one of the jewels of Central Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest.

To get there, go west from Sisters on Highway 20 for 10 miles and turn right at the sign for Camp Sherman (Road 14). Follow Road 14 to a fork in the road and bear right (the sign points to the right and says campsites, left takes you to the lodges and stores at Camp Sherman). Continue on approximately 7.5 miles and turn left at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery signs, and cross the bridge to the fish hatchery parking area. There is also an overflow parking area on the other side of the bridge, and is actually a better place to park if you are there for hiking.

Metolius River Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of hiking the Metolius River and Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.

 

Please note: If you don’t park at the parking area at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, a Northwest Forest Pass is required at some trailheads on National Forests in Oregon and Washington. These passes are distinct from the wilderness permits. Go to the Recreation Passes & Permits page for more information on the Northwest Forest Pass, including cost and how to get a pass.

On my only trip to the area, I was pressed for time and just did a short hike downstream from the fish hatchery (see map below), and it was so beautiful I didn’t want to stop and turn around, but I had other obligations so I had to.

As hiking trails run both north (downstream) and south along the Metolius from the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, which way you go is up to you. The distance you will hike of course depends on which way you go, and how far you feel like going. If you decide to hike upstream along the west bank you will see some small waterfalls, and it leads to the Lower Canyon Creek Campground which is located at the confluence of Lower Canyon Creek and the Metolius River.

From the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, a 6.5 mile loop can be hiked by going downstream to Lower Bridge, crossing the river there, and then returning on the opposite bank. As with all the trails along the river, this loop offers a combination of wonderful river and forest views, and a good variety of plants and animals to see, including Osprey nests, and even some beaver dams. Be sure to bring your camera, as you will have a wide variety of photo opportunities.

Restroom facilities and water are available at Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery in case you need them.

There are a few places where the trail leaves the river near some private property downstream from the fish hatchery, so as always please respect the property owner’s privacy and stay outside fence lines.

Head of the Metolius River

And if you are in the area, don’t forget to check out where the Metolius River begins its flow to the Deschutes River. The Metolius river gushes from springs beneath Black Butte, which is a 6,434-foot-high landmark in Central Oregon. The river begins in full force from beneath a lava pile on the lower slopes of the butte, where as much as 50,000 gallons of pure, clean water per minute bubble up from the ground. And to top if off, from the viewing area of the head of the Metolius River you get a fantastic view of Mt. Jefferson.

The trail to the head of the Metolius is a paved road that is only a couple hundred yards long. The land is privately owned, however the public is welcome to use the parking lot and trail to reach the springs. But please, stay on the paved road and don’t go wandering through the forest in this area.

The head of the Metolius is easy to find, as you will pass the sign on your way to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.

Seasonal Access: Normally Open: Spring-Fall

Metolius River and Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery