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Alder Springs Hike
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Map of Alder Springs Hike

Length: 6 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 650' elevation gain
Season: Spring thru Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging (due to creek crossing)
NW Forest Pass not Required

Features: Alder Springs trail is a popular Central Oregon hike located about 17 miles NE of Sisters. The trail starts on a high desert ridge, drops into a spectacular canyon at the Alder Springs oasis, continues along peaceful Whychus Creek and culminates at a dramatic bolder-strewn rapids of the Deschutes river.

There was an old ranch house that was used as a meth lab near the current location of the trailhead parking area. After a police raid in the 1990s, the property was seized by authorities, the house demolished and the Alder Springs hiking trail built along with a parking area, but no restroom. The trailhead is well marked at the North end of the parking area.

The Alder Springs trail begins on a dry, sparsely vegetated ridge and then descends 1.4 miles (450 ft elevation loss) to Alder Springs in the Whychus Creek Canyon. If the confluence of Whychus Creek with the Deschutes River is the goal, a wet stream crossing over Whychus creek is necessary. Sandals or water shoes and trekking poles are advisable because of knee-deep water with a swift current and uneven rocky stream bottom. Early snowmelt or rain storms may render the creek unsafe to cross. After crossing Whychus Creek, the trail continues another 1.6 miles to a rock outcrop adjacent to raging rapids at the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River.

Striking geology is one of the remarkable features of this area. The walls of the canyon reveal colorful layers of volcanic tuff, basalt and conglomerate deposits like horizontal stacks of library books. Monoliths resembling giant chess pieces are perched precariously along the canyon walls.

The sparse vegetation in the area (consisting primarily of ponderosa pines, juniper trees, alder trees, bitterbrush, grasses and wild flowers) was significantly impacted by a fire in 2011. However, grasses and wildflowers are once again growing in the area. Some of the isolated trees along the canyon walls and many of the alders in the canyon floor survived the fire.

Due to the fragile environment in this area, this is a hiker only trail. Hikers should stay on the trails and dog owners are asked to keep their pets on a leash and bring a plastic bag to carry out dog waste. The area is closed from December 1 to March 31 to protect soil and wildlife.

Alder Springs Hike photo taken near 
	Whychus Creek
View from Whychus Creek of canyon walls
How to get there:

From Sisters, drive East on Highway 20 to the edge of town and turn left on Highway 126 toward Redmond. Continue 5.4 miles on Highway 126 and then take a left on Holmes Road. After 1.5 miles, take a right to stay on Holmes Road and continue an additional 5.5 miles. At milepost 7, turn left on gravel Road 6360 and proceed past a kiosk then through a green gate (locked from December 1 to March 31). Continue on this single lane rough gravel road for 4 miles. Then turn right at an "Alder Springs" sign and take a very rough gravel Road 6370 for 0.7miles to the parking area at the trailhead.
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A Virtual Hike North of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area

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