My wife is on a "girls weekend" which is a perfect excuse for me to explore. All of the trip reports for the Deschutes River hike are about the east bank, along the trail built on the decommissioned railroad bed. I haven't seen any about the west bank. So, I decided to explore it. I gave myself 4 hours total, not a lot of time but I needed to pick up a wine club order and there were other things to do back home. I hit the "trailhead", just south of the boat ramp, around 0745. The temperature was about 55 and there was a light, thin layer of high altitude clouds. The place was absolutely packed. I didn't pay attention to fishing reports and steelhead are running, although no one I talked to had caught one.
It is impossible to get lost. The river is on one side and the railroad line is about 100-200 yards to the west of the river. I wasn't expecting much for trails, at least not well developed ones. I spent quite a bit of time looking at Google Earth which showed braided trails along the west bank. But, I suspected game trails. The first 2 miles are pretty decent. There is a trail that was apparently created by The Dalles Rod & Gun club (per a marker at around mile 1.5). But, the trail fades at about 2 miles, roughly at Rattlesnake Rapids. After that, there are some user trails to fishing spots along the river and a collection of braided game trails that eventually stop at a dense blackberry thicket. There isn't much space between the river and the hillside at this point. The only option was to follow a game trail uphill toward the rail line. This trail would fade in and out and divide multiple times but so long as you paralleled the railroad right of way fence you would always pick it back up.
Following the game trails was the most fun part of the hike. I was past the last fishermen and on my own. There were numerous deer, all does with fawns. Grouse and chukar popped up everywhere. There was scat all over the place. One pile near the blackberry thicket looked like black bear. Another canine-like pile had tufts of fur poking out. There were stretches along the fence that had clearly been graded in the past and the deer have taken full advantage of this. Once I got close to the rail line, the effects of the 2018 fire were much more evident. Fence posts along the right of way were badly charred. In some placed it looked like the barbed wire had melted or snapped from the heat. There were plenty of burned stumps and charred trees.
I didn't see much for flowers, just a few and mostly up near the rail line. The grass along the trail is pretty tall, in many places up to my head. It is an ideal area for ticks but I hosed myself down pretty thoroughly with picaridin before hand and haven't seen any so far. There were plenty of insects in the air but none were biting me.
The good trail
The trail is starting to fade
Um, where's the trail???
The view over Rattlesnake Rapids. The red line represents the game trails I followed.
Clearly a man made path
This mussel shell was a surprise
Charred fence post
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2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Thanks for posting this. Very cool report. It's interesting to see the post-fire state of the area. It doesn't look too bad, honestly, which is heartening.