Oregon High Desert Trail

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Trail Distance: 1 mile
Time Estimate: 30 min
Elevation Gain: 90 feet
Leash Rule: Off Leash
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: Yes
Description
The Oregon High Desert National Recreational Trail is a short and gentle hike that will reap furnormous rewards to anyone willing to take the long and bumpy ride to its trailhead. About 60 miles south of Burns, Frenchglen is the trail's home and it's where you'll find provisions like water and food, and a restroom. The High Desert NRT is part of the longer Oregon Desert Trail which travels 150 miles across the southern part of Oregon, and the eventual 1500-mile Desert Trail stretching from Canada to Mexico. 

Best hiked from July through mid-October, the High Desert Trail arises on an old, unused jeep road off the gravel-paved Steens Mountain Loop Road. The drive to the trailhead passes by campgrounds where you and Fido can choose to stay the night and extend your visit after your hike. You'll also see a turnoff for Kiger Gorge, a must-do side trip to view the magnificent glacier-created bowl gorge. Another junction further on leads to the East Rim and Steens Summit if you're up for a real challenge, as they both soar into the sky. The High Desert Hiking Trail is about a mile beyond this point, with a steady descent.

The old jeep road trail starts here and passes a small spring as it leads to a rocky outcrop from which you'll see pawsome Big Indian Gorge below and Steens Mountain, almost a mile high with a snow-covered peak even in summer. Wildflowers litter the landscape along the trail, and you're likely to spy desert wildlife like elk, snakes and lizards. The High Desert country of Oregon is home to raptors, porcupines and bobcats, as well as water-loving turtles, otters and waterfowl near the creeks and pools.

Other views of the gorge, Steens Mountain and other vistas are available from several additional dirt roads that veer off from the Steens Mountain Loop, but the High Desert Trail is the only one that is marked. 

Bring the family and Fido for this brief hike and don't forget to enjoy the long drive which boasts its own scenic beauty as well! 

Trail Features
Mountains, Easy Incline, Desert
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
Among the usual desert denizens living in this trail's region are rattlesnakes. Inherently shy, they will likely scurry away if you meet up with one, but will protect their homes under rocks and shrubs. Avoid poking your hand or foot under these landscape features without checking to see if they're inhabited.
Address
Steens Mountain Loop Rd
Frenchglen, OR 97736
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
Steens Mountain Loop Rd
Frenchglen, OR 97736
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours