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Summer 2003 recreation trail tips from the USFS Bend - Ft. Rock District
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A quick post Labor Day Trails Report   09.09.03

No need to mention the tinder dry and hot conditions still exist throughout the State and Northwest. There may be some change in that starting Sunday with some rain possible. Till then we may also have some dry lightening.

The B and B complex fire continues to grow especially in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson Wilderness remain closed to entry for public safety. Hwy 20 over Santiam has reopened but is still subject to closure in the future. With the opening comes the following restrictions: speed limit of 45 mph and no stopping or parking. Be aware of possible heavy smoke in the area especially at night. Traffic fines along the restricted area are tripled at this time. The Metolius Basin Trails including Black Butte remain closed due to the fires. For additional B and B Complex updates and information including maps, incident details, photos and more at, or call 541-549-8280 or 8286 (6am-9pm).

A campfire ban is in place for the Willamette National Forest side of the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Deschutes National Forest side (east of the Crest) of the Three Sisters Wilderness was going that way but has decided to hold off with the prospect of rain this weekend. Other Crest Wildernesses may presently have or are going to campfire bans so contact the local offices of those wildernesses for more details or visit their websites.

Katalo Area Closure is still in effect around the Phil’s Trail area. This too is a fire danger related closure.

The following trails and falls overlook are slated for temporary closures over the next few weeks: for resurfacing: Trail of the Molten Land and Whispering Pines Trail at Lava Lands, Lava Cast Forest, and Big Obsidian Flow (in Newberry Crater); for rock wall overlook work: Paulina Falls both north and south sides as well as part of Peter Skene Ogden Trail.

There will also be a temporary closure to the Tumalo Falls and lower Bridge Creek area possibly as early as this Friday. The closure may only last 2-3 hours while crew members airlift a large log to be set in place in the Bridge Creek drainage as a replacement bridge. This very short term closure depends on the availability of a helicopter from the local B and B fire complex.

After September 7, Elk Lake Resort will be open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10-6, through September 28, 2003.
--Chris Sabo

Labor Day Weekend Report!    08.25.03

The top trail news, though not directly related to Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District is the B and B Complex fires burning just northwest of the town of Sisters. These fires are severely affecting trail and backcountry use in that area and include closures to Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses, the Pacific Crest Trail and all other trails running through those areas.

Wilderness and trail closures include:
Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, Mt. Washington Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail from Mckenzie Pass north to Olallie Lake, All trails in the Metolius Basin, Black Butte Trail, Trails and areas around the Big Lake, Hoodoo, Suttle and Blue Lake area The Santiam Pass (Hwy 126) remains closed from Indian Ford Road (FR 11) west to Hwy 22

An alternate route is Mckenzie Pass (Hwy 242); be aware of reports of heavy traffic on Mckenzie Pass and it is very steep with many sharp curves. This pass is closed to trucks and check with ODOT on travel by larger RVs. Should you travel Mckenzie Pass in the coming weeks, use extra caution!

These closures are in effect until further notice. For additional B and B Complex updates and information including maps, incident details, photos and more at, or call 541-549-8280.

On the BFR local front we are gearing up for a busy Labor Day Weekend. Local trails could be busier than normal here due the B and B Complex fire closures sending displaced recreationists to south and north destinations .

Local fire restrictions (Katalo Closure) affecting many of the trails in the Phil's Trail area remain in effect until further notice.

Starting Sept. 2 temporary trail closures will go in effect on the Lava Lands, Lava Cast Forest and Big Obsidian Trails. These closures will be staggered to minimize user impacts during this trail resurfacing project. The project is expected to take a total of 2 weeks.

Everyday Trail and Backcountry Etiquette to consider!

Early weekend weather predictions are looking favorable for outdoor activities this coming Labor Day Weekend! With that we expect to see very busy conditions on the more popular trails in the area including Deschutes River Trail, Phil's, Skyliner, and Tumalo Trails area, Todd Lake, and many of the Three Sisters Wilderness Trails. With those busy conditions comes the need to practice more patience and trail etiquette whether hiking, biking or horse riding. Basic trail etiquette and safety tips on multi-use trails includes:

Bikers yield to hikers and horse riders; also sound a warning in advance when approaching others from behind. Always ride under control and avoid hard braking to avoid user conflicts, accidents, and trail erosion.

Hikers yield to horse and other stock users, preferably on the downhill side of trail if safe.

Horse users, please remove animal waste from trails, along water sources, trailheads and other areas of high use. Prevent your dog from chasing wildlife, stock animals, other dogs and people by maintaining control of your dog at all times (preferably with a leash if not under good voice control). All developed recreation areas including trailheads require dogs be leashed at all times. Other areas and trails like the Deschutes River Trail and some trails and areas of the Three Sisters Wilderness also require dogs remain leashed. Maintain visual contact with your dog at all times and clean up after your pet by removing waste from trails, campsites, water sources, trailheads and anywhere dog waste may cause user conflicts or sanitation concerns. Be a responsible pet owner and help to avoid the need to impose additional dog restrictions on area trails.

Avoid cutting switchbacks and encourage others to do the same. Stay on main trails in high use alpine areas and other areas of high use with fragile soils and vegetation.

Hike, bike, and horse ride single file on trails. Not doing so widens trails, increases erosion and degrades the scenic qualities we all come to enjoy.

Wilderness users, always obtain a Wilderness Permit (free) at the self issuing permit station at each trailhead. All trail users, please read the information at the trailhead boards and be aware of any special restrictions that may apply to a certain trail or area; ie. fire restrictions, designated campsites at Green and Moraine Lakes, dog leash requirements, trails closed to bikers or horse use, etc.

Be aware that many of the trails on the Deschutes National Forest are high use this time of year and you may wish to seek a lighter use trail in order to experience a higher degree of solitude. Respect private property.

Plan ahead and go prepared with food, water, clothing, map/compass, c-phone etc. to match the type of trail and backcountry experience you are seeking. Be sure your skill level and physical conditioning are up to the trip you are planning. Also, make sure the others in your group are also prepared. Let a reliable friend or family member know your plans and when you will return and what to do if you shouldn’t return as planned. Be sure to contact them upon your return.

Always consider and minimize the effects of your activities on the soils, vegetation, wildlife, water, and other trail users. Pack out all litter and remember to Leave No Trace!  Your help by following these few trail etiquette and safety practices will go a long way in maintaining the environment and a quality experience for everyone.

Have a safe weekend!
--Chris Sabo


This past week and a half some unfortunate backcountry accidents have occurred in the local area. They include the death of a young hiker who fell 30 feet on the lower West slopes of Middle and South Sister, an injured hiker rescued from the Mt. Jefferson area and a lost (but found) teenage hiker on the west side of the Three Sisters. This may be a good time to remind trail and backcountry users of a few safety precautions.

It’s very important for trail and backcountry users to be well prepared with the essential equipment and physical conditioning to match your outing. The following are reminders of how to help prevent emergencies from happening to you:

>Be sure you and other party members are in good mental, emotional and physical condition to match your outing. Know your limits and the limits of the people in your party and stay within them. It’s better to turn back and try again another day then end up with a serious injury or search and rescue mission on your hands.

>Avoid getting separated from others in your group and have a plan should party members unintentionally become separated. Have a preplanned “trail plan” and be sure to review it with others in your group. Notify reliable family or friends of your plans and intended return time, and also what they should do, should you not return as planned. Be sure to contact them upon your return.

>Keep in mind that while most of our trails are well signed and relatively easy to negotiate on, it’s important to carry map and compass (and/or gps) and know how to use them. Sometimes, trail signs are damaged or missing from winter snows or vandalism. And let’s face it, some of us have difficulty finding our cars in a near empty parking lot let alone our way back to the trailhead.

>Take extra food, water, and clothing along with other “emergency supplies” (The Ten Essentials) to help get you through a cold night should you or someone in your party become lost or injured.

>While cell phone communications may be a great technology when is working, it’s useless when it’s not due to poor reception, dead battery or broken electronics. Don’t rely solely on a cell phone as emergency equipment; be sure and go fully prepared to survive on your own for a day or two should you become lost or injured.

>Obtain a weather forecast and watch for changes in the weather. Cascade mountain weather can/will change in short order; what started out as a warm - sunny day on the trail could turn into a cold rainy or snowy fight for survival.

>Obtain current trail and field conditions from local land managers. Also inquire about special closures or regulations (vehicle, campfire, and dog restrictions) that may affect your trip. Include in that possible wildfires that may be out of control in the local area. This is fast becoming a very “hot” issue for Central Oregon this summer.

Be trail smart! Thanks and have a good week!
--Chris Sabo

Here’s the summary of trail updates  08.11.03

TOP NEWS: The Benham Falls East footbridge is scheduled to reopen this Wednesday (August 13) at sunrise. The crew will finish up the main decking and handrails Tuesday afternoon. There will remain a day or two of finish work on the bridge approach handrails, but that work can be accomplished with the bridge open to the public. With that we thank all of you for being patient during this bridge reconstruction project and we’re sure you’ll enjoy the basically new Benham Falls Footbridge. Again, sorry for any inconvenience this has caused individuals, groups and businesses. Enjoy the new bridge!

The new dog leash regulation that went into effect July 1st has had mixed acceptance. This regulation requires that all dogs be leashed and physically restrained when on or within 1/8 mi. of system trails in the areas of:
Todd Lake to Broken Top, Green Lakes Trailhead to Green Lakes and the saddle above Green Lakes, Moraine Lake, South Sister Summit, and the Climber’s Trail from Devils Lake to South Sister. This also includes the general areas and lakeshores around Todd Lake, Green Lakes, and Moraine Lakes. Maps of the effected trails and areas are posted at the trailheads. See maps of Deschutes River and Three Sisters closures.

For some the regulation has been appreciated with fewer reported human/dog conflicts and for some dog owners the restriction has been difficult with several $200 citations being issued. It’s important to keep in mind that a full closure to dogs in this area was originally proposed and this leash regulation is on a trial basis to see if leash compliance by dog owners can meet an acceptable level. If not, a dog ban in the future is still a possibility. Dog owners, please help prevent a dog ban by responsibly maintaining your pet on a leash when in the leash required areas. This will help greatly reduce user conflicts over dog behavior. 

These conflicts include:
Dog fights
Dog conflicts with horses and other stock resulting in thrown riders and
Aggressive or unwanted dog behavior towards people
Harassment of wildlife
Lost dogs
Sanitation problems

While this leash regulation effects much of the Three Sisters Wilderness high use area on the Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District, remember there are still trails within the Wilderness that do not require a leash. Please do practice “canine courtesy” when using these “leash free” trails and maintain good voice control should you choose not to leash up.

Trail repaving at Lava Lands, Lava Cast Forest, and Big Obsidian starting Sept. 2. The paving of these trails will require short term closures during the paving process that is expected to span a two week period. More details as we near Sept. 2.

Katalo area fire closure still in effect. This closure effects several of the trails out of the Phil’s trailhead area just west and south of Bend. Most of the roads and trails in this area effected by this closure are posted “Area Closed” and you are required to avoid these areas until the fire danger drops. While recent rains have dampened some areas of Central Oregon, other areas still remain very dry and subject to extreme fire danger. All fire restrictions put in place 2 weeks ago remain at this time and could remain into October.
--Chris Sabo

Cooler temps have made trail conditions more enjoyable!   08.05.03

Cooler temps have made trail conditions more enjoyable with some spotty light rain settling the dust in areas.

Not enough rain though to put a much a of a dent in the fire danger.  Fire restrictions remain in effect and likely will for some time to come.  Katalo fire restrictions still close some areas and trails just west and southwest of Bend around the Phil’s trailhead area.  

The Benham Falls footbridge is still under reconstruction and the new reopening date is now August 16.  

Wilderness use in the Green Lakes, Moraine Lake, South Sister and Broken Top area reaching normal August crowds with weekends seeing heavy use.  The new dog leash regulation in this area is meeting with mixed feelings but generally most trail users are helping reduce the conflicts regarding dog behavior by leashing their pets.  For those not leashing as required, law enforcement action is being taken.  

Reminder that all Wilderness users are required to obtain a Wilderness Permit when entering the Three Sisters Wilderness.  The permits are free and self issuing at the wilderness trailheads.  These permits are not to be confused with the Northwest Forest Pass which does have a fee and covers vehicle parking at most trailheads and many day use areas.  Please be sure to read all the information on the Wilderness information boards.  

South Sister access from Moraine Lake via the canyon trail is closed for restoration.  Hikers are required to use the moraine trail located on the moraine ridge just south of Moraine Lake.  

Be aware that sanitation is a growing problem in the Moraine Lake, South Sister and Green Lakes area.  Human, dog, and horse waste are serious threats to human health and cause user conflicts.  Please follow through with proper waste disposal as outlined in Leave No Trace  wilderness ethics.
--Chris Sabo



Bend, July 23, 2003
Extreme fire danger in Central Oregon has prompted fire officials to restrict certain activities on public lands on the Prineville District Bureau of Land Management, Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests, and Crooked River National Grassland. Effective July 25, open fires will be permitted only in certain designated campgrounds on the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests and Prineville Bureau of Land Management. These are improved areas posted for public use. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuel may be used in all areas on both Bureau of Land Management Prineville, and Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest lands. Users are asked to clear an area 10 feet in diameter for stove use. These restrictions currently DO NOT apply to local Wilderness Areas.

“We cannot emphasize enough to the recreating public to take extreme care when visiting public lands this time of year,” said Dan Torrence, Acting Interagency Fire Management Officer for Central Oregon Fire Management Services. This includes having awareness of where to park your vehicle (avoid parking where dry vegetation may easily be ignited) and carrying tools in case a fire does start. 

Vehicle use will be limited to developed roads that are constructed for automotive use and are clear and free of flammable debris and vegetation. Ochoco and Deschutes National Forest visitors are restricted to 2- and 4-digit roads and other roads that are paved, gravel or cinder and free of vegetation, with a few minor exceptions, (see Exhibit C). Of concern is the risk of hot catalytic converters coming into contact with the dry grass and brush in the middle of the roads and starting fires. Those vehicles traveling on Bureau of Land Management areas will be required to stay on developed roads that are free of vegetation and carry an axe, shovel and one gallon of water.

Smoking is restricted to an enclosed vehicle or building, in boats on lakes, designated campgrounds, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable material.

Motors on watercraft and the use of generators in designated campgrounds are permitted. Operating any motorized vehicle on trails is prohibited on Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest lands. On Bureau of Land Management areas, it is prohibited to operate any type of motorized vehicle off developed roads, except within the Rosland and Millican/ODOT OHV Pit Play Areas, which will remain open to Class I and III ATV’s (See Exhibit B.). 

Welding and operating an acetylene or other torch or open flame is also prohibited. In addition, using an explosive or operating a chainsaw is prohibited. 

Lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties have restrictions as well. There are eight Regulated Use Restrictions currently in place. Of those eight, the common prohibition is on all open burning. This includes debris burning, campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at designated locations. For more information on current private land restrictions, please call 541-447-5658. 

“Your cooperation during this extremely dangerous fire season is needed,” said Torrence. “These restrictions allow us to focus our visitors into safe areas where when we see smoke, we will know if it’s a safe, permitted area.”

Visitors are encouraged to call the 24-hour fire precautions phone at 1-800-523-4737 before visiting their favorite area. This information will be updated as conditions change.
--Chris Sabo

Latest trail happenings  07.22.03

All Bend-Ft. Rock District trails (except for higher elevation snow patches on South Sister/Mt. Bachelor) are now free of snow. Approximately 90% of District trails are cleared of blowdown.

Benham Trail Bridge is now closed for heavy maintenance. See special section in attachment for details and projected opening.

Fire conditions have become “EXTREME” in many parts of the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level is going to “lll” starting midnight July 22, 03. This will result in some public land restrictions that will be publicized over the next few days. 

Restrictions will include:  campfire use, off road vehicle use, smoking, chainsaws, and closure of some mountain bike trails in the Phil’s Trailhead area. Other use restrictions may apply in the future with continued increase in fire danger.

The closure of some trails in the Phil’s Trailhead area include parts or all of the following trails: Ben’s Trail, Voodoo, Kent’s Trail, Phil’s Trail, COD Trail, and Storm King Trail. More details of these closed trails will be posted at the trailhead, along the trails and in future Trail Reports. These closures will be in effect until further notice and are due to the heavy fuels or logging debris that remain in the area from recent logging operations.

Next week’s report will have more details on the fire restrictions and include updates on the trail tables.
--Chris Sabo

Most remaining snow bound trails have thawed  07.10.03

Most remaining snow bound trails have thawed. The only remaining trails with snow (moderate to heavy patchy sections) include: last 1 mile to Green Lakes, within 1-1 ½ mile of Moraine Lake, upper sections of South Sister Climbers Trail, Broken Top trail, and possibly patches of snow on the north side of Koosah Mt. along the PCT. Patchy snow also exists along the northern 3 miles of Metolius Windigo Trail. Mt. Bachelor climbing trail also has snow patches. These ”snow patches” can be just a hundred feet to ½ mile in length and up to several feet deep. Stock use is not yet recommended in these snow covered areas. Hikers beware of the “post holing” hazards associated with hiking on snow. We expect all but the long term snowfields on South Sister and Mt. Bachelor to be melted out by end of July.

Trail clearing is progressing well with about 15% of the District’s non motorized trails remaining to be cleared. This year’s blowdown level has generally been light. Nearly all trails in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are now cleared of blowdown.

Mosquito activities in some parts of the District have been reported as extremely unpleasant. Go prepared with repellant or prepare to give blood.

Road 370 past Todd Lake Trailhead remains closed (gates locked) for another 2 weeks possibly. Snow yet blocks the higher elevations of this road.

Hwy 46 and Road 44 south of Wickiup Reservoir remain closed for public safety due to Davis Fire activities. These roads and area will remain closed until further notice. This closure does not affect any District trails but may affect travel to or from your destination.

The footbridge across the Deschutes River ½ mile upstream of Benham Falls is still scheduled to be closed in the near future (possibly as early as next week) for 2-3 weeks. Replacement of the deck and handrails will close the bridge to all trail traffic during this period permitting access to Benham Falls only from Road 41 just west of the river. The Benham East picnic area and barrier free interpretive trails will remain open during the bridge repair period.

A special note here from the Bureau of Land Management about a closure of Dry Canyon located 16 miles southeast of Bend. The Canyon is closed until possibly August 15th due to nesting activities by Prairie Falcons. For further information on this closure contact Prineville BLM.
--Chris Sabo

Fourth of July weekend update  07.03.03

Most designated campsites around Green and Moraine Lakes are yet under snow. Mirror Lake/Koosah Mt. area yet has moderate snow coverage. Mid and lower elevation wilderness trails are snow free with 70% of these trails cleared of blowdown.

Horses are not recommended due to snow on Green Lakes, Moraine Lake, Soda Creek, and Mirror Lake trails. Hiking hazards include post holing with the possibility of leg/joint injuries from breaking through snow crust. Dogs are now required to be on leash and physically restrained when on the trails and lake areas of these sites including Todd Lake.

Road 370 access to Broken Top Trailhead is still closed due to snow and will likely be for another 2 weeks.

Approx. 60% of District Wilderness trails are cleared of blowdown. Blowdown on the remaining trails is likely light to moderate.

70% of Newberry National Volcanic Monument trails are cleared of blowdown and nearly all trails are snow free. The road to Paulina Peak is open.

80% of non-wilderness trails west of Hwy 97 are cleared of blowdown and all are snow free. The trails that have not been cleared to date will likely have light to moderate blowdown on them.

The Davis Fire around Davis Lake and Wickiup Reservoir do not effect any of the District trails at this time. Some road closures are in effect in the fire area including Hwy 46 south of Forest Road 42.

Fireworks are NOT permitted on National Forest Lands anytime of year! Conditions are extremely dry for this time of year so please be extra careful with campfires.

Have a safe and fire free weekend!
--Chris Sabo

The snowline is receding well resulting in further opening of facilities  06.16.03

The snowline is receding well resulting in further opening of facilities in the Devils and Sparks Lake area. Roads are now open to all District Trailheads except for those beyond Todd Lake along Road 370 (including Broken Top) and also Paulina Peak which are blocked by snow. The snow free facilities in this area include: Todd Lake Trailhead parking, Todd Creek Horse Camp, Sparks Lake, Soda Creek, Green Lakes Trailhead, South Sister and Devils Lake Trailheads, and Mirror Lake Trailhead.

The road 600 access to Irish/Taylor Lakes is also snow free and accessible (though rough) by high clearance 2 wheel drive vehicles. Keep in mind that even though these higher elevation trailheads are vehicle accessible, many of the trails in these areas are yet blocked by patchy to mostly solid snow. Estimate 80-90% snow coverage on the trails to Green Lakes, Moraine Lake and South Sister.

All of the District’s Three Sisters Wilderness permit stations except for Broken Top and Crater Ditch are now installed so remember to fill out and carry a Wilderness Permit with you when entering.

Additional trails cleared of blowdown this past week include: Round Meadow Trail 21 to Charlton Lake Trail 19 to Charlton Lake now cleared, Many Lakes Trail is now fully cleared, Trails in the area of Quinn Creek Horse Camp to Katsuk Pond and south on Quinn Creek Trail are cleared. At this time on the District’s west side approx. 60% of the trails are cleared of blowdown. Much of the remaining trails are under patchy to heavy snow.

On the Districts East side around the Paulina Crater area approx. 20% of the trails have been cleared. Most of the remaining trail miles in the Crater will be cleared by YCC crews starting late June. Overall blowdown level so far have been light to moderate on most cleared trails.

Other trail projects starting up in the next few weeks include: prepping paved trails in Lava Lands, Lava Cast Forest and Obsidian Trail areas for resurfacing. These trails will remain open during this prep work. The foot bridge out of Benham Falls East Day Use area is scheduled to be closed for two weeks beginning sometime in early July. The hand-railing and decking is slated for replacement after decades of heavy use and weathering and for public safety the bridge will be closed during reconstruction. Thank you for your patience!
--Chris Sabo

A quick summary on trail progress over the past week  06.05.03

Warm to hot weather the past week caused rapid snow melt and a receding snowline. The trail miles continue to thaw and crews continue to race the receding snow. Green Lakes, Mirror Lakes and Sparks Lake trailheads have joined the snow free list though snow yet blocks most of the trails out of these trailheads.

Devils Lake/South Sister Climbers trailhead should be free of snow by this weekend but again, trails out of the trailhead will mostly be blocked by snow. Further south on the District trail clearing progresses around Cultus Lake with the trail to Winopee cleared to within ¼ mile of the Lake. No snow is reported up to Winopee and it’s likely only patchy to lower Snowshoe Lake. Trail clearing has begun on the trails just north of Charlton Lake and only patchy snow is reported in that area to Lemish Lake. Most of the Pacific Crest Trail through the District is yet snow covered.

Access to Todd Lake parking is yet blocked by snow but should be open by the weekend. Be aware there may be road grading in that area over the next few days. Todd Lake still has some ice on it but is melting fast and expect some snow coverage around the Lake for the next couple weeks. Road 370 beyond Todd Lake parking is not expected to open until mid July. The only remaining snowmobile access for the diehards and those who don’t mind riding on hundreds of yards of rocky road is on the 370 Road. Due to difficult access snowmobiling is not recommended.

Trail clearing and snow melt continue at a good pace in the Swampy to Tumalo Falls area. 2.5 miles of North Fork Trail above Tumalo Falls are free of snow and blowdown. South Fork Trail, Swede Ridge, and Tumalo Ridge Trails are now snow free and cleared.
Newberry Crater floor and facilities are now fully snow free. The road to Paulina Peak remains closed due to snow but should open before the end of June. Trail clearing above the floor is scheduled to begin later this month with YCC crews.

The trail bridge across the Deschutes River just upstream from Benham Falls is scheduled for badly needed reconstruction as early as later in June. or early July. The bridge decking and handrails will be fully replaced. Once reconstruction begins the bridge will be closed for up to two weeks. Sorry for any inconvenience and we’re sure the bridge improvements will be much appreciated.

Mosquito populations are on the rise and aggressively seeking donors.
--Chris Sabo

What a fine spring Day!  05.29.03

With recent warm temps and some rain the snowline has begun a hasty retreat to the higher elevations. Forecast is for more warming temps with above freezing temps at night.

Trail and trailhead facilities at the higher elevations are now becoming free of snow at an increasing rate. Solid snowline for the most part on the District’s Westside in the Dutchman Flat to Cultus Lake area is around 5,100 ft. That’s just above Elk and Cultus Lakes elevations of 4,900’.

The trailhead facilities that remain snowbound include: Dutchman area, Vista Butte, Todd Lake, Todd Creek Horse Camp, Broken Top, Road 370, Metolius Windigo, Green Lakes, Sparks Lake, Devils Lake, South Sister Climbers, Quinn Meadow, and Mirror Lake. In the Newberry Crater area snow yet blocks access to Paulina Peak. The remaining Crater overnight, day use and trailhead facilities are mostly free of snow except for a snow patch here and there. 

Snow yet blocks most of the higher elevation trails along the Cascade Crest and above Newberry Crater floor. With the forecast of higher temps over the next few days, could see parking access to Green Lakes and Sparks Lake Trailheads by the weekend. But again, the trails above these sites will yet be blocked by snow.

Trail clearing at the snow free elevations progresses with increasing speed, but limited to elevations mostly <5,300 feet. Swampy Lakes area yet has patchy snow on the trails as well as above Tumalo Falls where snow is more solid further up North Fork into Happy Valley. Limited trail clearing has begun in these areas and will progress with the receding snow. Mrazek to Farewell bike trails are now snow free and cleared of blowdown up to their intersection.

Wilderness trail clearing has begun but is limited to just north of Cultus Lake and into Lucky Lake. Above Winopee Lake and west of Lucky Lake snow is patchy to solid. The trail into Blow and Doris Lake yet has patches of snow but may be nearly clear of snow by the weekend.

Wilderness Permits are now required thru October 31 and the self register stations are in at all the snow free wilderness trailheads. Register when you enter. As expected, access to wilderness peaks is by over the snow foot travel only. Post holing conditions exist.

The mosquito report is low to moderate with populations and appetites for blood on the increase with warming temps.

For the diehard snowmobilers, snow access is now limited to a small amount of parking at the Todd Lake access road. Lack of snow directly out of Dutchman Snowpark does not permit snowmobiling without riding over bare soil and plants which is a citable offense. This regulation applies to anywhere around high elevation area; snowmobiling is permitted only when snow is sufficient and firm enough to prevent damage to vegetation or displacement of soil. And then is only permitted in those areas open to such use.

June 7th is National Trails Day and Northwest Forest Passes are not required for the day at Northwest Forest Pass sites. It’s also free fishing day.
--Chris Sabo

Memorial Day Weekend in the Oregon Cascades    05.22.03

Just a few trail and campground updates and clarification to last Monday’s report.

With the warming temps over the past week snow melt has accelerated. For the Memorial Day Weekend, most sites noted in the May 19th report as being snowed in will yet be snowed in with the exception of the area near Little Cultus Lake. Trail crew members have cleared blowdown around Big Cultus Lake from Winopee Lake Trailhead to Little Cultus Lake and also the Winopee Tie trail (primary horse use) from Cultus Corral Horse Camp to Winopee Trailhead. Little Cultus Lake has snow free access. The 600 Road (to Irish/Taylor Lakes) west of Little Cultus is likely yet blocked by snow and blowdown. No reports yet on Charlton Lake access.

The Three Sisters Wilderness is essentially snowed in at this time. If you plan on hiking in the Wilderness over the next few weeks plan on hiking over snow with it’s hazards. The Wilderness trails are not signed for use during snow and hikers have gotten lost trying to find their way along these snow covered trails. Go prepared! 

Elk Lake Resort is scheduled to open with full restaurant and boat rentals on Friday, May 23. Elk Lake is free of ice. Campgrounds and picnic areas around Elk and Hosmer Lakes are not yet open due to snow and day use parking is limited at Hosmer Lake boat ramp.

All District Westside campgrounds south of Elk Lake are open as are all District Resorts including Elk Lake Resort.

Again for clarification, the campgrounds, trailheads and day use areas north of Elk Lake to Mt. Bachelor are closed due to snow but Hwy 46 is scheduled for opening to highway traffic in either direction on Friday, May 23. Parking along this “snow zone” section of the Highway will basically be nonexistent for the weekend.

Newberry Crater is little changed with snow yet covering all trails, Paulina Falls and most other day use sites. The campgrounds in the Crater (with the exception of Newberry Group and the Horse Camp) do have a limited number of campsites plowed and open but expect to find some snow around them. Paulina Lake and East Lake Resorts are open and the Lakes are ice free.

A clarification to my Monday statement, “Snowmobilers be aware that winter motorized closures (Wilderness, Todd Lake, Bend Watershed, 25% of Tumalo Mt.,) are in full effect until snow melt is complete.” These are year-round motorized closures and not just during the snow season. You never know, someone not in their right (or left) mind may try to snowmobile to Broken Top in August.
--Chris Sabo

Memorial Day Weekend Trails Report!   05.19.03

The big spring weekend is upon us and offers a variety of summer and winter trail activities. General summer trail conditions are looking good for the low elevation trails and snowed in for the higher elevation trails.

Lower elevation trails are in good condition and mostly cleared of blowdown along Fall River, Deschutes River, Phil's Trail system from Phil's Trailhead to Skyliner and its connections to Deschutes River trails , Osprey Point, everything north of Road 18 (Coyote Loop, Skeleton Cave Trail, and Arnold Ice Cave Trail), Lava Lands trails, Lava Cast Forest, Mrazek, Tumalo Creek and 80% of Peter Skene Ogden. The trail on the north shore of Cultus Lake is mostly snow free, but it’s reported to have heavy blowdown. A crew will be out clearing that trail this week and should have most of the trail from Winopee Lake Trailhead to West Cultus boat in camp cleared before Memorial Day Weekend.

Snow yet blocks access to all Newberry Crater trails, Swampy Lakes, most trails above Tumalo Falls, Sparks to Lava Lake, Todd Lake trails, Little Cultus Lake Trails, the Lemish to Charlton Lake trails, and 98% of the District Wilderness trails. The opening of these trails depends on the spring temperatures.

The last 10 mile section of Cascade Lakes Hwy (from Elk Lake to Mt. Bachelor) is being plowed and scheduled for season opening on May 23. Keep in mind that ALL trailheads, campgrounds and day use areas along this Hwy section will likely be blocked by 2-5 feet of snow and only Hwy 46 is being plowed here. This means that there is no parking plowed out along Hwy 46 from Dutchman Flat to just north of Elk Lake and you will only be able to drive thru. These snowed in sites include: Todd Lake, Todd Creek Horse camp, Sparks Lake and trailhead, Soda Creek campground, Broken Top/Green Lakes/Devils Lake/Wickiup Plains/South Sister Climbers Trail/Mirror Lake/Elk Lake Trailheads and Quinn Meadow Horse Camp. All trails in this area are also blocked by snow.

The winter trail activities are limited to access from Dutchman Sno-Park/Trailhead (Sno-Park permits not valid after April 30 and Northwest Forest Passes required May 1- November 15). Spring snow conditions are good for nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing from this trailhead with access to the higher elevations. Snowmobilers be aware that winter motorized closures (Wilderness, Todd Lake, Tumalo Mt., Bend Watershed) are in full effect until snow melt is complete.

Reports have been coming in of illegal off road activity (motorcycles and 4x4 vehicles) in the Phil's Trail area. These trails are non-motorized use only and violators are subject to a citation with fine of up to $5,000. Trail users seeing illegal activities in this area or on other non-motorized trails are urged to call law enforcement officials at (541) 388-0170 with a vehicle/person description, time, and location.

Be sure to secure any valuables left in your vehicle out of sight while parked at recreation sites. Better yet take valuables with you or leave them at home to help prevent vehicle break-ins.

Memorial Day Weekend is the first big weekend of the summer trail season and with good weather it’s expected there will be lots of folks out and about. Extra recreation and law enforcement personnel will out this weekend patrolling recreation sites and general forest areas. Please don’t hesitate to flag one down if you have a question or concern. The local law enforcement number is (541) 388-0170 or dial 911 for emergencies.
Chris Sabo

A few more updates on trail/road conditions.   05.07.03

Hwy 46 is now open from the south to Elk Lake. Hosmer Lake Boat ramp access is also plowed. There remains up to 3 feet of snow around Elk Lake and at last report it is yet frozen.

The remaining 10 miles of snowbound Hwy 46 from Elk Lake to Mt. Bachelor is scheduled to open May 23 in time for Memorial Day Weekend. That’s if the weather cooperates and we don’t receive a foot of snow just before the scheduled opening.

Snowmobilers beware that Trail 5/Hwy 46 is now being plowed in the Todd Lake to Dutchman area and not recommended for snowmobiling.

Road 21 into Newberry Crater is open to East Lake Resort; there remains 1-2 feet of snow in most of the Crater with only 2 campgrounds open and most other FS facilities blocked by snow.
--Chris Sabo

Snowmobilers busting the Wilderness!   04.21.03

Other than additional snow melt and recent rain there’s little change in the trail conditions. Snow conditions on the District’s Westside high elevation zones have been good for spring skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Snowmobiling is pretty much limited to the area out of Dutchman Sno-Park. Fair skiing and snowshoeing is still available out of Swampy and Vista Butte Sno-parks and good spring skiing out of Dutchman. All other snow parks are out of winter trail activities for the season.

We have received reports that a few “rebel” snowmobilers are riding in the well posted closed areas of Three Sisters Wilderness, Todd Lake and Tumalo Mt. motorized closures, and on the blue diamond trails. This is a “heads up” to those riding in those areas which are closed to motorized use anytime of year; violators are subject to fines of up to $5,000, jail time and can have their vehicles (snowmobiles/atv’s) seized. The negative impression your tracks and presence in these closed areas leave on motorized and non-motorized users alike creates negative social impacts for motorized users as a whole.

I’m including with this report a recent news release on the start of the new Golden Pass policy. If you have or know of folks that have one of the three types of Golden Passes, you can now pick up a free pass holder at one of our Forest Service offices or Northwest Pass Vendors. These holders allow you to properly display Golden Passes in vehicle windshields.
--Chris Sabo

Spring conditions progressing!   04.14.03

Spring thaw continues at a steady speed. More summer trail miles open up as winter trails melt away into memories. Summer trail clearing is under way to a limited degree and will increase as trail crew members return to work and volunteers reach further down the trails. Most lower elevation (< 4,800’) summer trails have now dried out enough for biking, hiking and horse use. Blowdown on these trails so far has been at light to moderate levels.

> Road access to Tumalo Falls Trailhead is now open for the season. Snow yet blocks trails just above the Falls.
> The new biker/hiker trail (Skyliner Trail) east out of Skyliner Trailhead is now open. Constructed late last fall by Central Oregon Trails Alliance volunteers it provides a 3.2 mile single track trail connection from Skyliner Trailhead to Whoops and Ben’s bike trails.
> Thank you COTA volunteers! COTA volunteers have been hard at work clearing and doing tread work on the Mrazek and Phil’s Trail systems as well. If you’re interested in helping COTA with volunteer trail projects, contact them at:
> Deschutes River Trails are in good spring conditions with a few blowdown left to be cleared.

Remember, dogs are required to be on leash on this trail. Bikers must be on their best behavior when using the primary hiker trail from Benham Falls to Meadow Picnic. An increase in user conflicts could result in a bike ban on the scenic 8.2 mile hiker section.

Starting sometime in late April, the footbridge from Benham Falls East to Benham Falls West will be closed for 3 weeks or more for reconstruction. The decking and railing will be replaced to provide a safer-splinter free trail experience. Thank you for your patience during this reconstruction period.

> A new hiker-biker trail from Sunriver to Benham Falls East will be constructed this summer.
> Lava Lands Visitor Center opens for the summer season starting April 19.
> Fall River Trail has been cleared by the Monday Hikers and is fully open. Thank you Monday Hikers.
> Peter Skein Ogden Trail is reported to have moderate to heavy blowdown. Trail clearing has commenced on the lower section and will progress over the next couple of weeks.
> Horse Butte to Swamp Wells trails are free of snow except for higher elevations. Trail reconstruction has begun on some trail segments and will continue over the coming months.
> All District Wilderness trails and trailheads are yet under snow. Starting this summer, dogs will be required to be on leash while on and near trails and high use areas in the Todd Lake, Broken Top, Green Lakes, Moraine Lake, and South Sister areas. Leashes have become a requirement in an effort to reduce conflicts between users in these high use areas. More details on this in future reports.

Starting April 18, Golden Age, Golden Access, and Golden Passport Card holders will be able to use their “Golden Cards” in place of the Northwest Forest Pass. A plastic sleeve to display these cards in the windshield of your vehicle will be available from Forest Service Offices and Pass Vendors in the next couple of weeks. Northwest Forest Passes are required at most of the open summer trailheads and will also once again be required at: Dutchman, Swampy Lakes and Edison Snow Parks starting May 1. State Snow Park Permits will no longer be valid at these snow park/trailheads until they are again required starting November 15. Stay tuned for more Fee Demo news over the coming weeks.

The winter trails program is tuning down and access is limited to Dutchman, Vista Butte and Swampy Sno-Parks. The overflow parking area just 200 yards west of Dutchman Sno-park has been plowed courtesy of Mt. Bachelor Inc. and is open to parking. Snowmobile trail 5 south of Devils Lake is not recommended as it has been plowed from the south to Elk Lake.

Hwy 46 is now open from Deschutes Bridge South. Road 40 from Sunriver West to Cultus Lake is now plowed and open. Hwy 46 is scheduled for full opening a day or two before Memorial Day Weekend. Road 21 into Newberry Crater is in the process of being plowed and is scheduled for opening in time for fishing season.
--Chris Sabo