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June 27th, 2007 12:00 am Ethan Smith | Special Section Stories

Oregon's Outer Edges

Crater Lake. Hell's Canyon. Wallowa and Steens mountain ranges. Hell, yeah.

Crater Lake
IMAGE: Zack Benham

Bike: Crater Lake Rim

Why go: Half a million people visit Crater Lake each year—they can't all be wrong. What to expect: Stiff climbs through thin air, with views that are more than worth it. Rim Drive overlooks the lake—from between 500 and 2,000 feet above its surface—and rolls through pines and pumice fields for 33 miles. One of the nation's 10 most beautiful roads according to AAA. Pack this: Your Camelback and an industrial-sized inhaler. Google it: Bicycle Crater Lake.

Hike: Steens Mountain

Why go: So you can say you summited a 9,733-foot peak. Don't mention you only walked half a mile. What to expect: A 30-mile-long miniature mountain range (technically just one peak) rising 5,000 feet above the Alvord Desert. The Steens Mountain Loop will take you from the road almost to the top, but for greater satisfaction and scenery, hike from desert to snowcap through the glacier-carved Little Blitzen Gorge. Pack this: SPF 30, a camera, a partner who'll back up your story. Google it: Steens Mountain trails.

Hike: Imnaha River Trail in Hells Canyon

Why go: To swear at the snakes and heat like a grizzled 18th-century miner. "Oh, pickleshoes!" What to expect: High canyon walls rising from the wild, white churn of the Imnaha. Five dusty miles gets you to Eureka Bar and the remnants of a turn-of-the-century mining camp. The especially lucky or quiet might even spot one of Hells Canyon's rumored wolves. Pack this: Stiff boots, fluids and your best gold pan. Google it: Imnaha trail Hells Canyon.

Hike: Ice Lake

Why go: To battle the Abominable Snowman. What to expect: Wildlife and wild vistas of the Wallowa Mountains distract from the stiff climb. The trail rises 3,300 feet in eight miles up to the shivery blues of alpine Ice Lake. From there, ambitious view-seekers can scramble another 2,000 feet to the top of the Matterhorn. Isn't there another one of those? Pack this: Good boots, swimsuit, monster-battling weapon of choice. Google it: Ice Lake Wallowa.
Get Out!
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Willamette Valley
The Coast
Great Cascades/Columbia Gorge
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Oregon's Outer Edges
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