Adventures in Central Oregon

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Outdoor adventures abound in Central Oregon due to its many lakes, mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. Fortunately, we got to explore two of these natural wonders and do some hiking with our good friends Jim and Jan.

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Smith Rock State Park is one of the 7 wonders of Oregon. Located about 26 miles north of Bend near the town of Redmond, Smith Rock is a geological marvel resulting from volcanic eruptions. One theory is that it was named for John Smith, a local sheriff and state legislator in the 1850’s who is said to have discovered it. The state of Oregon acquired the property for the state park between 1960-1975.

Smith Rock has a 600 ft. cliff face that is a favorite of rock climbers. It has more than 1,800 climbing routes up the tuff and basalt cliffs. Many of these routes sport unique names like Karate Crack, Double Trouble, Monkey Face, Wartley’s Revenge to name only a few.

The Crooked River winds its way through the Crooked River Canyon at the base of these imposing natural features. There are over 12 miles of hiking and biking trails through the park. One trail follows the river through the canyon providing impressive views of wildlife along the river (we saw a heron and other birds), cathedral rock formations, and several groups of rock climbers, too. The two most popular trails are the Summit Trail and Misery Ridge. Both lead to the top of the ridge and provide great panoramic views of the park.

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We had a great time at this majestic State Park which reminded us a lot of the rock formations that we saw at Garden of the Gods in Colorado.

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Another day we set out for the Metolius River which is near the town of Sisters, Oregon. This 28 mile river is a tributary of the Deschutes River. We stopped to see the headwaters of the river which is fed by underground springs. It was hard to believe that the rushing river that we saw downstream on our hike began in such a quiet place.

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Our hike began at Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. Since the hatchery is open to visitors, we took the opportunity to see the open tanks with different fish species such as rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout and kobanee salmon. There were a number of families there visiting the hatchery and also enjoying a picnic lunch.

From there, we hiked part of the West Metolius River Trail. The first thing that we noticed was the color of the water that was an azure blue color. The second thing was the force of the river. The rapids created a loud roar as it flowed over the rocks near the fish hatchery. Our final observation was how clear the water was. Where the water was calmer, you could see the bed of the river.

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It was an incredibly beautiful hike along the river and through the Deschutes National Forest. Along the way, in some of the calmer waters, we spotted several fly fishermen hoping to snag a trout, a salmon, or mountain whitefish.

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About two miles from the hatchery, we came to some waterfalls/springs that gushed out of the rocks on the opposite side of the riverbank. They think that these waters originate in the Cascade Mountains. It was an impressive sight to behold.

In 1988, the Metolius River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River and it certainly lived up to it designation. We thoroughly enjoyed this hike as well as the company of good friends.

After our hike, we spent some time in the town of Sisters. Named for the Cascade peaks called “The Three Sisters,” this small town has numerous art galleries, unique shops, and restaurants. One of those shops is a clock shop, Beacham’s Clock Company, that houses hundreds of new and antique clocks. Its owner repairs clock and makes them as well. He has won 11 first place ribbons in International Clock Competitions. Many of the clocks were grandfather clocks but the most distinctive clock in the store is an 1871 clock made for King Frederick III, King of Prussia.

Jan mentioned their favorite ice cream shop in Sisters and David was immediately on board. We ended up at BJ’s Ice Cream on the main street in town.

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Sisters is also known for their annual Rodeo, outdoor Quilt Show, and Folk Festival held in June, July, and September respectively.

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Many, many thanks to Jim and Jan for their warm hospitality and friendship. We had a delightful time in Central Oregon and look forward to seeing them again soon.

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