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Many of Oregon’s backcountry destinations are still snowed in this time of year, but the riverside trails in the northern Blue Mountains offer an early start to the the backpacking season—not to mention dense stands of Douglas fir and lodgepole pine, habitat for elk, deer, and black bear, and all the solitude of a remote wilderness canyon. Experience it all on this easy 12.6-mile out-and-back along the Wenaha River. The Wenaha River Trail #3106 winds through an open ponderosa forest studded with wildflowers and delves into a basalt rimrock canyon. Continue on to the junction with the Crooked Creek Trail #3100 at mile 6.3 and scout for a waterside campsite along Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Wenaha. It’s the perfect spot to practice your fly-fishing skills for steelhead and rainbow trout before retracing your steps the next day.
Info: Oregon’s Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide, by George Wuerthner. (509) 843-1891; www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma
Hike provided by Barbara I. Bond, author of 75 Scrambles in Oregon (The Mountaineers Books).
Location: 45.9475326538086, -117.454154968262