Alder Springs Trail: High Desert Beauty Along Whychus Creek

After coming across the Alder Springs trailhead on my map of the Crooked River National Grassland I thought it would be a good day hike that was relatively close to Sisters. After looking up some information about the area I realized that the trail is part of the proposed Whychus-Deschutes Wilderness. I was excited but a little skeptical. Given the proximity to both Sisters and Redmond I thought that it couldn't possibly have a true 'wilderness' feel, but I was wrong.

Alder Springs trailhead
 From that start of the drive down the rough dirt road to the trailhead I had the feeling that this hike was going to be an isolated place. There was only one other car at the trailhead and after a few minutes I wasn't sure where the other hikers disappeared to. My plan was to hike to the end of the trail were it runs into the Deschutes River.

Alder Springs trail heading down to Whychus Creek

Whychus Creek canyon
Prior to descending to the banks of Whychus Creek you have incredibly beautiful sweeping vistas in all directions. Once you near the bottom of the canyon the forest transitions to a smattering of Ponderosa Pine,  Red Alder and Western Juniper. Fire is of critical importance for the high desert of this area and there are many signs of it's frequent presence both new and old. Despite frequent fire the forest is still home to many living trees. 

Only about one mile in you will come to the beautiful and quite cold Alder Springs. There are quite a few campsites just after the ford of Whychus Creek. It was about knee deep and not very swift.
Odd sign for a wilderness study area

The ford at Alder Springs
Though there are many trails that cross the creek the most obvious one is what you will need to take. Campsites abound from Alder Springs until you reach the Deschutes River, which also has great camping.

Campsite shortly after the ford of Alder Springs

Campsite along Whychus Creek
Shortly after passing the campsites near Alder Springs the trail will climb slightly giving you impressive vistas both up and down the canyon.  As you approach the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River there is a stand of Ponderosa Pine that mark the end of the maintained trail. 

Alder Springs trail above Whychus Creek

Near the confluence of Whychus Creek and Deschutes River
The campsite just passed the end of the maintained trail was my favorite of the trip. The beautiful canyon walls, Ponderosa Pines and rushing river make for a perfect campsite.

Campsite along the Deschutes River

Deschutes River just downriver from Whychus Creek
It was easy to spend quite a while sitting on the rocky out cropping in the Deschutes enjoying the relatively warm sunshine on an other wise chilly day. Sadly I eventually had to return the way I came. This is a perfect day hike or short and easy backpacking trip.

Western Juniper beside Alder Spring
Directions from Sisters: Follow Highway 126 towards Redmond for 4.6 miles, turn left on Goodrich road, follow for 7 miles( at the 7 mile marker) turn left onto Road 6360, follow for 4.1 miles, turn right at Alder Springs sign, follow for .8 mile.

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 2,600 feet

Hike Distance:
6.2 miles according to my Garmin Oregon 550 GPS 

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: Approximately 600 feet

Light, 2 other people 

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fees: None
Alder Springs at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Oregon

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