The Oregon Desert Trail
Adventure Awaits in the High Desert
Whether you're venturing out for a day trip and weeklong adventure, the 800-mile Oregon Desert Trail offers the best of the state's dry side. Soon, maps and guide material will be available here.
To know Oregon’s high desert is to love it. This idea is the core of an ONDA initiative more than three-years in the making: to create the 800-mile Oregon Desert Trail through some of the most spectacular natural areas of the state’s dry side.
Volunteers and Oregon Natural Desert Association staff scouted the best trails, jeep tracks and routes through the state's high desert to link them together as the Oregon Desert Trail, from the near-geographic center of the state to the Idaho border.
The trail launches amid the gnarled junipers of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, winds through the vast Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, climbs up one of Steens Mountain's perfect U-gorges and concludes in the Owyhee Canyonlands, which The New York Times recently said are "so stunning they should be a national park." Through this route, we hope to bring understanding to the pristine landscapes and critical wildlife habitat needing our protection.
The guide material, maps and town information for the trail will soon be available for you to create your own Oregon Desert Trail experience. It is accessible at different points by bicycle, horseback and raft in addition to foot.
Our aim for the trail is certainly to offer an epic desert crossing and recreational opportunities. But it’s also much more than that. The trail will introduce others to these truly wild places. We hope the experience will show others why these special places are truly worth protecting.
Last summer, 33-year-old Bend, Oregon-resident Sage Clegg departed from her own front door as the first person to hike and bike the entirety of the trail. Clegg, a wildlife biologist who spends a chunk of the year monitoring desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert, is known as one of the world’s fastest female ultralight backpackers. She holds the woman’s record for zipping along the 8,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail in less than 18 months.
She chronicled her journey here for the Oregon Natural Desert Association. Along the way, she saw bighorn sheep and bobcat prints, petroglyphs and arrowheads, snowy peaks and red-rock pinnacles.
Stay tuned, as Sage is slated to give a talk in Portland in early February.
Read about Sage's journey at: ONDA.org/TrailBlog.
Click below to view the Oregon Desert Trail map: