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June 27th, 2007 WW Editorial Staff | Special Section Stories
 

Central Oregon/High Desert

No rain, plenty of snow, obsidian flows and great local beer. The folks from the real eastside know how to unbend outside.

     
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Phil's Trail
IMAGE: flickr.com/photos/lemonad

Hike: Lava River Cave


Why go: Relive childhood cave-dwelling fantasies. What to expect: Oregon's longest known lava tube. Occasional bats and guano. Long, dark, claustrophobia-inducing corridors opening up into 60-foot-high echo chambers. Creepy stalactites around every corner. Pack this: Money for day pass ($5), warm jacket, boots and a lantern (or rent one for $3). Google it: Bend Lava River Cave. (LK)

Climb: South Sister


Why go: Non-technical climb. But your friends don't know that. What to expect: View half the state from the windy, 10,358-foot peak of Oregon's third-tallest mountain by climbing 4,900 feet in 5.5 miles; or cheat by cutting over to Moraine Lake, which has arguably better views but takes about half the work. Pack this: Water bottle, swimsuit. Accept it—you're not going to the top. Google it: South Sister Bend. (KSC)

Hike: Central High Cascades Obsidian Trail


Why go: Lava lamps aren't as cool as the real thing. What to expect: Bizarre lava formations, galaxies of wildflowers, groovy views of the Sisters volcanoes and people. Lots of people. Call ahead to the McKenzie Ranger Station (541-822-3381) to reserve a hiking permit. Pack this: Craigslist date, lunch, parking money. Google it: Obsidian Trail Sisters. (KSC)

Hike: Tam McArthur Rim


Why go: To use the piece of trivia under "what to expect." What to expect: Bleak, volcanic tableland with views of peaks and the Three-Creek Lake basin. The area's namesake once wrote for The Oregonian, and between 1928-1952 he wrote three books on geographic names in Oregon. Pack this: That piece of trivia. Also a jacket. Google it: Tam McArthur Rim Sisters. (KSC)

Swim: Tamolitch Pool


Why go: Still waters run deep. What to expect: No muddy waters here, just "shrinkage" blues. This 40-foot-deep turquoise lake is a natural well where the McKenzie River channel magically reappears after flowing underground for three miles. It's also only about 38 degrees. Pack this: A nice, soft towel; a swimsuit with a good drawstring. Google it: Tamolitch Pool McKenzie. (KC)

Fish: Metolius River


Why go: You like struggling all day to catch a fish just so you can throw it back. What to expect: A beautiful river filled with 10- to 13-inch wild rainbow trout, the Metolius flows from the Cascade Mountains through a luscious forest. Pack this: Fly rod, a copy of A River Runs Through It. Google it: Metolius River Oregon. (NS)

Mountain Bike: Phil's Trail


Why go: You're the mountain version of Lance Armstrong. What to expect: A one- to 20-mile round-trip path through scenic Bend. You'll probably want to get a map at the local shops. Pack this: Bike, water bottle and some steroids. Google it: Phil's Trail Oregon. (NS)

Raft: Deschutes at Maupin


Why go: Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep (The River Wild) made rafting seem so sexy. What to expect: An exciting 100-mile river two hours east of Portland divided into four different segments with rapids ranging from classes I-II to III-IV. Pack this: Extra clothes and shoes, high threshold for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (it's a long river). Google it: Deschutes at Maupin. (NS)

Mountain Bike: Gray Butte Loop


Why go: You like to treat yourself visually while punishing yourself physically. What to expect: An insanely beautiful view of the desert from a five-mile, single-track trail down into Sherwood Canyon. Then, a 1,000-foot climb back to your starting point. Pack this: Bike, water and second set of lungs. Google it: Gray Butte Loop. (NS)

Lava: Newberry Caldera


Why go: Scope out the perfect spot for that evil lair you've been meaning to build. What to expect: 50,000-plus acres of breathtaking lakes, lava flows and geological features. An amazing view of the Cascades and high desert from the 7,985-foot Paulina Peak. Pack this: Camera, extra film and a fire suit. Google it: Newberry Caldera Oregon. (NS)

Climb: Smith Rock


Why go: A chance to perfect your "European Death Knot." What to expect: Oregon's mecca of rock climbing, with over 1,500 climbing trails reaching up to 550 feet. Sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt offer challenges for beginning and experienced climbers. Look for location shots from The Postman and Mission Impossible: II. Pack this: Climbing gear, water bottle and $3 for day pass. Google it: Smith Rock climbing. (KCL)

Fish: Deschutes River


Why go: Waist-deep in the riffle is your nirvana. What to expect: A haven for trout, steelhead and fly fishermen. This Central Oregon river, which runs nearly 300 miles, is renowned for its unique and wild strain of rainbow trout, called the Redband. Pack this: Your favorite stonefly nymph, a boat and a cooler to store your catch. Google it: Deschutes River Oregon. (KC)
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