Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

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retired jerry
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Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by retired jerry » March 30th, 2012, 9:18 am

I spent a few nights backpacking up the Metolius River from Lake Billy Chinook.

I am always looking for east of the Cascades hikes because it rains less. The Deschutes River is at the bottom of the rain shadow, on average you get the least rain there.

The Metolius empties into Lake Billy Chinook right at the Deschutes, so it's drier there. As you go up the Metolius to the headwaters near Sherman Camp, the annual rainfall is the same as Portland but there are more sunny days there.

This worked pretty good - it was raining in Portland but very little rain where I went - a few brief showers.

The trailhead is 35 miles from Highway 26 and Madras, which is 120 miles from Portland. Follow signs to Cove Palisades. Continue on paved road through campground. The road goes up to the plateau on the other side of the Deschutes, does some right angle turns - just stay on the main road which is paved. There were some road signs that said "Perry South C.G.". Last 6 miles is gravel easily doable by regular passenger vehicle, but you have to go slow.

I camped a night before at Perry South Campground which is 3 miles before the trailhead. Open year-round. Large campground. A few other people but they were out of sight.

Trailhead is just wide space on road:
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I think they open this gate in the summer and you can drive another two miles to Monty Campground.

There are a couple cabins beyond the gate and a PGE fish counting station so there were tire tracks the first 4 miles. The PGE truck passed me twice in several days.

After the first 4 miles of tire tracks, there's another 3 miles of road with no tire tracks. I don't mind walking this - you still get trees and animals - sometimes the road is next to the Metolius, sometimes it's a few hundred feet away.

I camped a couple nights at Monty Campground. There's a nice trail along the river that's about 1.5 miles. And this PGE fish counting device:
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After about 7 miles of road, there's 2 miles of just trail. This is pretty rough and unmaintained. I threw a bunch of branches off the trail but need to go back with folding saw and lopers. You have to climb over/around a couple trees. There's a place where the trail is overflowed by the Metolius:
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There are a couple slopes where someone needs to take a Pulaski and dig it back out, but you can get by.

Nices views of the Metolius as you go along:
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Occasional views up:
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After the 2 miles of trail, there's another few miles of old road, that has trees and rocks across it so there are no vehicles on it.

I camped in the middle of the 2 mile trail section - 7.5 miles from trailhead. There's another nice campsite after the trail about 10 miles from the trailhead:
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The total distance from the trailhead to the other end at Lower Bridge Crossing is about 20 miles.

The whole time I kept seeing what I think are Mountain Lion tracks:
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I assume the Mountain Lion knew I was there and was stalking me :)

Also Coyote tracks:
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When I first got there, there were patches of snow. I had to drive through a little snow maybe 1 or 2 inches deep. When I left this was all gone.

The farthest I got up, maybe 12 miles in, maybe 2500 feet elevation, there were places with no snow and places with maybe 6 inches deep snow. Easy enough to find trail. This is probably pretty much melted off by now.

This is a really good place to go when it's raining in Portland.

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Grannyhiker
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by Grannyhiker » March 30th, 2012, 10:03 am

Thank you very much for the report, Jerry! I was wondering if there was a place to camp on the trail section--looks good!

I'll probably wait until early May for this one, hoping that the road will be open to Monty CG by then. If not, at least by then I'll have (I hope!) worked up to 6-7 mile days.

The Metolius is certainly a beautiful river!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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retired jerry
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by retired jerry » March 30th, 2012, 11:03 am

There's a nice place to camp about 5 miles from the winter trailhead.

Of course, then, you'de be walking on a road the whole time, but since there's no traffic maybe that's okay.

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Grannyhiker
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by Grannyhiker » March 30th, 2012, 1:53 pm

Looks as though I'll have to plan a 3-dayer; Monty CG doesn't open until June. Either that or see if I can walk farther without getting blisters on my really weirdly shaped feet! I gather the elevation gain and loss are minimal, so I just might be able to do it.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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retired jerry
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by retired jerry » March 30th, 2012, 3:23 pm

There were signs in Monty Campground saying it opens in May. My guess that means just before Memorial day.

The trail is almost totally level. Gradual elevation gain. 2100 feet at lower end, 2800 feet at upper end.

Like I said, there's a pretty nice spot to camp about 5 miles from winter trailhead. Should be no car traffic. The road is maybe 200 feet from the river and there's a couple nice flat places to camp.

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Crusak
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by Crusak » March 30th, 2012, 6:35 pm

I have some friends that like to go camping down in that area, and they've been encouraging me to go check out the hiking opportunities. I've been told that the fishing is good down there, too. Looks like a great place to hike. And neat to see all of those tracks in the snow.

Thanks for the great directions, pics and information, Jerry.
Jim's Hikes

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Grannyhiker
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by Grannyhiker » March 30th, 2012, 10:46 pm

Fishing on the Metolius is all catch-and-release.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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kelkev
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by kelkev » March 31st, 2012, 5:58 am

great post, Jerry! I've spent countless weeks of vacation camping, exploring, fishing, and relaxing along the Metolius, but have never ventured more than 2 or 3 miles downstream of Bridge 99/Lower Bridge campground. The river really changes gears and picks up speed below Bridge 99. Looks like it's time for me to do some more exploring downstream.

Kevin
"Going to the mountains is going home."
— John Muir

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Crusak
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by Crusak » March 31st, 2012, 6:52 am

Grannyhiker wrote:Fishing on the Metolius is all catch-and-release.
That's fun too. I usually catch-and-release these days. ;) Except for on backpacking trips in some areas where you're allowed to keep your catch. Thanks for pointing that out GH. I can leave the frying pan at home. :)
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drm
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Re: Lower Metolius River March 23, 2012

Post by drm » March 31st, 2012, 7:10 am

Decided that the Wenaha would be too soggy?

The Grand Ronde Valley is not as dry as most of eastern Oregon.

I do hope that somebody goes there this spring and reports on whether the trail has been maintained past 10 miles.

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