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Middle Metolius River Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Metolius River gets fairly large (Jerry Adams)
The trail starts on the North end of Lower Bridge Campground (Jerry Adams)
There are many campsites right next to the river (Jerry Adams)
  • Start point: Lower Bridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Lower Bridge Trailhead
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • High Point: 2850 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year Round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: the first couple miles in the summer


The Metolius River appears out of the ground at the Head of the Metolius River. The water is from the Cascades to the West, which soaks into porous volcanic soil and comes to the surface because of the fault that created the Green Ridge, to the East. The river is best known for fly fishing. The water is very cold and clean.

Expect to see easy rapids, Fly Fisherman, birds, possibly fish, and possibly other wildlife.

There shouldn't be any boats going by. At Lower Bridge there are warnings that the river is blocked below here making boating impossible.

In the summer there can be quite a few people.

The Middle Metolius River Hike is a less popular hike than the Wizard Falls Loop Hike. There is no access to any roads ar you walk along. With the Wizard Falls Loop Hike, you're never more than about 1/2 mile from a road.

I have never seen this hike in any guide book, so again, you will probably find less people here.

There some nice campsites all along the route - nice flat areas right next to the river with a fire pit.

Bicycles and horses are allowed on this trail.

For the first 1.5 miles, the trail follows along the river - hikers only along here. The rest of the way is an old dirt road, gated closed. At about mile 7 is a private no tresspassing area, with tire tracks leading to it, so it's possible you might see a vehicle. The road is wide enough to allow bicycles and horses to pass by.

A negative about this hike is there are no views. It's almost claustrophobic. There are trees all the way to the river. You get occasional glimpses of hills and cliffs in the distance. There are no side trails, except short ones to campsites on the river.

The forest is not real dense like the west side of the Cascades, but it's close enough to the crest and it's high enough altitude so there is still a fair amount of rain. There is a mixture of Pine, Fir, and Cedar trees, with some undergrowth at places, and more open at other places.

This hike can be done year-round, but at times there's snow which would make this difficult if not impossible. Sisters Oregon is at the same elevation and 20 miles to the South, so if there's no snow there, then this is probably open.

This area is 10 miles East of the Cascade crest, so there is significantly less rain than the West side. If it's raining in Portland, you can sometimes escape it here. It's not very far East though, so it's not as dry as, for example, the Deschutes River. If it's going to rain a lot, and you want to escape it as much as possible, this isn't the best place.

This hike is specified as 22 miles round trip, which is totally arbitrary, because that's as far as I went. I think you can continue another 5 miles before you reach civilization on the other side.

Contents

Description

Start the hike at the Lower Bridge Trailhead.

Walk through Lower Bridge Campground. This campground can be busy in the summer. No reservations. In the winter it's officially closed but you can still camp there - it's not gated - but there's no drinking water, garbage pick-up, or toilet paper in the outhouse.

The trail takes off at the far end (North) of the campground and is well marked. The trail closely follows the river.

At about 0.8 and 1 mile, there are two nice campsites.

At about 1.5 miles, the trail peters out. From here, occasionally there's a trail along the river, but it's easiest to follow the dirt road. Candle Creek Creek Campground, a semi-developed automobile accessible campground is across the river. It would be difficult to cross the river because it's fairly big.

Up to mile 7, where there's a private area, there are tire tracks in the road and any trees have been removed, so the walking is easy. Sometimes the road is right next to the river, and sometimes it's a ways from the river which you can still hear.

There are a number of nice campsites in the first 6 miles. Wherever there's a side road towards the river, follow it, and there's probably a campsite.

At mile 7 from the trailhead is the private area, with prominent "No Tresspassing" signs. A ways farther is a fairly new cabin - that would be a nice place for whoever owns it, I bet a fly fisherman.

Beyond here, there are no tire tracks, and there are probably some trees across the road, so the going is a little harder. The undergrowth is not real dense, so it's pretty easy to get around anything.

Between about mile 8 and mile 10 are a number of nice campsites.

At mile 10, the road ends, and there is a typical trail. This is more overgrown and difficult to follow.

I went as far as mile 11, at which point the trail kind of petered out into several possible trails that all became difficult to follow in underbrush. This was far enough for me, and there was a nice campsite back a ways, so I just turned around here.

From the map, at about mile 12 the trail reaches another road, which might be gated closed. At about mile 16 is a primitive campground (Monty) which the Forest Service says is automobile accessible.

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Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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