Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2082
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by bobcat » June 1st, 2020, 2:35 pm

I drove out on a two-night trip to central Oregon, car camping in the Ochocos just east of Mitchell (official campgrounds were still closed). I stopped once in Madras to fill up with gas but otherwise was completely self-sufficient. One goal was to do a loop around the Spring Basin Wilderness near Clarno. I was fairly surprised to find another vehicle at the trailhead; I met the hiker later – he had a lot of experience with Spring Basin and described various routes.

My route was fairly conventional. I hiked up the draw from the trailhead – the trail is well-defined. Then I split left to follow an old vehicle track round the ridges. This offered views to the John Day River at some points and crosses the north end of Spring Basin itself. Apart from the odd juniper, there was no shade. The hedgehog cacti were bloomed out.

Looking up the access draw.jpg
Purple sage (Salvia dorrii), Spring Basin.jpg
White stemmed globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), Spring Basin.jpg
Peck's threadleaf fleabane (Erigeron filifolius), Spring Basin.jpg
Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), Spring Basin.jpg
John Day River from Spring Basin.jpg
Welded tuff, Spring Basin.jpg
Jeep track above Spring Basin.jpg
Cockscomb cryptantha (Cryptantha celosioides), Spring Basin.jpg
Hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus nigrispinus), Spring Basin.jpg

I left the track at the north ridge of Horse Mountain and headed up to the summit. It was a nice day with views south to the Ochocos as well as various rocky peaks around. To complete the loop, I scrambled down Horse Mountain’s southeast ridge. This route involved downclimbing some rimrock and then passing through palisades composed of welded tuff.

Horse Mountain ridge, Spring Basin.jpg
Sheep Mountain and Jennies Peak from Horse Mountain, Spring Basin.jpg
Palisades and Sheep Mountain, Horse Mountain, Spring Basin.jpg
View to the Palisades, Horse Mountain, Spring Basin.jpg

When I got to Hay Bottom Canyon, I immediately took another vehicle track that led down into a tributary of Spring Basin Canyon, where there was a campsite and a spring (although I didn’t see any surface water).

From a ridge above Spring Basin Canyon, Spring Basin.jpg
Campsite in Spring Basin tributary, Spring Basin.jpg
Looking up Spring Basin Canyon, Spring Basin.jpg
Mouth of Spring Basin Canyon, Spring Basin.jpg

I walked down Spring Basin Canyon, passing another campfire circle. Then a vehicle track took me out of the canyon bottom where it became a narrow, steep-walled ravine. This connected with Clarno Road, which I hiked down to a large gate beyond which no unauthorized vehicles are permitted (but hikers can use a side gate to get through). After that, it was a 1 ½ mile stroll above the John Day to my car.

Plains pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha), Spring Basin.jpg
Blue Mountain prairie-clover (Dalea ornata), Clarno Road, Spring Basin.jpg
Palisades from Clarno Road, Spring Basin.jpg

arieshiker
Posts: 162
Joined: December 3rd, 2009, 3:19 pm
Location: Goldendale

Re: Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by arieshiker » June 7th, 2020, 7:20 am

Bobcat, this is a terrific post about a most fascinating trek. Do you have a guestimate about your mileage or distances between any benchmarks? Probably not a mid-summer hike but early spring/mid-fall, maybe even early winter?

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2082
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by bobcat » June 7th, 2020, 7:56 am

The loop was nine miles only (it's a small wilderness!). I missed a faint jeep track that heads up to benches above Spring Basin Canyon. It starts only a few yards above the campsite I think. It would take you back to the original access draw. I'd recommend that to slogging along Clarno Road although the latter is not horrible - zero traffic anyway.

Don't go in the summer. Other seasons O.K. depending on a little ice/snow in winter. Spring is best, I think. Cool temperatures, wildflowers, and the cheatgrass hasn't dried out enough to impregnate your clothing with its bristly little seeds.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2082
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by bobcat » June 7th, 2020, 3:33 pm

Here's a sketch on the topo map of my route: solid red = jeep tracks (sometimes hard to follow); dotted red = cross country; orange = Clarno Road; yellow = alternate route on old jeep track.

SpringBasinMap.png

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 13056
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by retired jerry » June 7th, 2020, 4:51 pm

Was there any drinking water anywhere or did you have to bring it from car?
I did that a couple years ago and brought water from car. There are several springs identified on map.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2082
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Spring Basin Wilderness 5-26-20

Post by bobcat » June 9th, 2020, 7:47 am

retired jerry wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 4:51 pm
Was there any drinking water anywhere or did you have to bring it from car?
I was just day hiking; carried my water. The only "spring" I passed was near the campsite. It was still very green there and thick with cattails and weeds. I didn't see any surface water, but you probably would have gotten some if you'd dug down a bit.

Post Reply