Criterion Tract 5-12-18

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 1974
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Criterion Tract 5-12-18

Post by bobcat » May 13th, 2018, 3:43 pm

The Criterion Tract is a BLM parcel on the west side of Highway 197 between Maupin and Madras at the highest point between the Columbia River and Redmond. We made the 2 ¼ hour drive out there to pursue an off-trail adventure on the rimrock ramparts above the Deschutes River.

We were the only car parked at the corral trailhead just south of the crest, and we made our way cross-country to the farm road that leads along the crest from the north trailhead. There was examination of wildflowers among the cattle tracks (The cows are gone for the season now) and discussion about the sagebrush galls, caused by a kind of midge. The gentle slopes on the crest are covered by 20-foot-wide grassy Mima mounds.

At the Criterion Corral, Criterion Tract.jpg
Bare-stem desert parsley (Lomatium nudicaule), Criterion Tract.jpg
Gall of sponge gall midge (Rhopalomyia pomum) on big-leaf sagebrush, Criterion Tract.jpg
View to Mt. Hood, Criterion Tract.jpg
Idaho mikvetch (Astragalus conjunctus), Criterion Tract.jpg
View south, Criterion Tract.jpg
Scabland wild buckwheat (Eriogonum sphaerocephalum var. sublineare), Criterion Tract.jpg

We parted from the road at the telephone poles that lead down to the river, and followed Sleet Ridge out to drop down to a salt lick at a saddle. We then descended from the saddle to a bench to get views downriver to a couple of bends and the Lady Frances Mine, which extracted perlite, across the Deschutes. The Mutton Mountains on the Warm Springs Reservation were at their most verdant.

Rough eyelashweed (Blepharipappus scaber), Criterion Tract.jpg
Cattle trail on the phone line corridor, Criterion Tract.jpg
Carey's balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana), Criterion Tract.jpg
Spear-leaf agoseris (Agoseris retrorsa), Criterion Tract.jpg
Salt lick on Sleet Ridge, Criterion Tract.jpg
View to Dixon Bend, Criterion Tract.jpg
Upriver view, Criterion Tract.jpg

We walked around the nose of Sleet Ridge and munched on lunch under a shady juniper with views up the river and on to Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters. In order to make a loop, we faced the daunting task of descending steeply into Outlaw Canyon before finding a route up 1300 feet back to the trailhead. There was some trepidation at this prospect as we picked out the breaches in the rimrock and determined a route. The lower slopes were very steep, but we accomplished this in about two hours with a few rest breaks.

Balsamroot rimrock, Criterion Tract.jpg
Three Sisters view, Criterion Tract.jpg
Harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), Criterion Tract.jpg
Western poison-ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii), Criterion Tract.jpg
Descending Outlaw Canyon, Criterion Tract.jpg
Coming out of Outlaw Canyon, Criterion Tract.jpg
Cliffs above Outlaw Canyon, Criterion Tract.jpg
Looking to Sleet Knoll, Criterion Tract.jpg
Reuben's Pillar, Criterion Tract.jpg
Climbing above Reuben's Pillar, Criterion Tract.jpg
View down Outlaw Canyon, Criterion Tract.jpg
Daggerpod (Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides), Criterion Tract.jpg
Mt. Hood, Criterion Tract.jpg

As for wild creatures, we surprised a group of deer and Ezra’s birding acumen landed us mountain bluebirds, horned larks, meadowlarks, kingbirds, vesper sparrows, kestrels, a bald eagle, etc. No ticks, no snakes . . .

(Run your mouse over the pictures for filenames/captions.)

Post Reply