The Oregon Desert Trail
To know Oregon’s high desert is to love it.
It's hiking season in the high desert, and we're kicking off with two months of trail stories, updates, new resources and more.
An ONDA initiative since 2011, the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail traverses some of the most spectacular natural areas of the state’s dry side, including Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Steens Mountain and the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Thanks to thousands of volunteer and staff hours, the guide material, maps, GPS tracks and waypoints, and town information are now available for you to create your own Oregon Desert Trail adventure. With a western terminus in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and an eastern terminus in the Lake Owyhee State Park near the Idaho border, this route crosses mountains, vast deserts, rivers and canyons. It links existing trails, old Jeep tracks, historical wagon roads and cross-country navigation, and is accessable at different points by bicycle, horseback and raft in addition to foot. Some sections offer easy walks along well marked paths. Other areas require GPS skills, significant outdoor experience and serious preparation, particularly for water sources.
While we have surveyed every inch of the route in crafting the Oregon Desert Trail, it remains a work-in-progress. Conditions change and there may be aspects we didn't anticipate. We want feedback from users and from the communities surrounding the trail so we can work with land management agencies to refine the ODT and offer the best information possible to visitors to our public lands: Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And consider sharing your adventures on the trail on our High Desert Trip Reports page.
Also of note, we have asked federal agencies to consider designating the Oregon Desert Trail as a National Recreation Trail "Connecting Trail" linking the existing Fremont National Recreation Trail and the Oregon High Desert National Recreation Trail. (See our Nov. 8, 2013 letter here.) This would result in the more formal adoption of the route, allowing for signage, inclusion on federal maps and more.
We invite you to use this information to explore and enjoy natural treasures throughout Oregon's high desert. The route will introduce you to wild places and the communities surrounding them. We hope the experience will illuminate why these special places are truly worth protecting.