The Deschutes National Forest will be ready to welcome hikers and boaters for Memorial Day—summer's unofficial kickoff—but most sites will have limited services, if any at all.
By the end of this week, rangers will have opened most day-use areas and boat ramps in the 1.8 million acres they oversee east of the Cascade Range. That lift in restrictions comes nearly two months after rangers closed all features in those lands to help quell the spread of COVID-19.
But just because the public is allowed back in doesn't mean you can access all the recreation spots.
Many of the most popular trailheads, for instance, remain off limits due to heavy snowpack or hazardous trees that have yet to be removed, including the routes to Broken Top, Green Lakes and Tumalo Falls. Anyone planning to make the trek to a Central Oregon outdoor attraction should check the status of that site on the Deschutes National Forest website first, and keep in mind that no one should be traveling long distances to recreate at this point.
The pandemic is preventing the U.S. Forest Service from providing regular maintenance on many of its facilities, which means restrooms will not be regularly cleaned—or, in the case of vault toilets, emptied.
That has prompted rangers to provide a public tutorial on pooping in the woods by releasing a video that not only provides you with four different methods on how best to pop a squat with no toilet seat around, but also helpful reminders on how deep to dig your cat hole (6 to 8 inches) and to stay at least 200 feet away from water sources, trails and campsites when doing your business.
As always, follow the outdoor recreationalist's golden rule of packing everything out—yes, that means used toilet paper, too—and when on trails, let others know you're coming so that everyone can maintain at least 6 feet of distance.
For the time being, keep your tent stowed unless you plan on backcountry camping. The forest service's developed campgrounds remain closed, but rangers are working to try to open some by the first weekend of June.