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Steens Mountain Wilderness Trail Work along Blitzen River Trail (NOW FULL)

Difficulty Rating: 4 of 5 August 17 (Thursday PM) to August 20 (Sunday PM) For the first year, ONDA has several opportunities for trail work near the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT) corridor. We will be maintaining several miles of trail out of Page Springs Campground up the Donner und Blitzen River. This trail provides an interesting alternate to the current ODT route, and our work to maintain the popular trail will help others discover this beautiful river canyon.
When Aug 17, 2017 05:00 PM to
Aug 20, 2017 12:00 PM
Where Donner und Blitzen River Trail, Steens Mountain Wilderness
Contact Name
Contact Phone (541) 330-2638
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Steens Mountain lies along the horizon of southeastern Oregon like a sleeping giant among a bed of sagebrush, perennial grasses and wildflowers. Although often mistaken for a chain of mountains, Steens is actually one contiguous monolith — the largest fault block mountain in North America, stretching some 50 miles and reaching a mile vertically, with summits that overlook the Alvord Desert, wide canyons and the Donner und Blitzen River. The Donner und Blitzen translates as "thunder and lightning" and was named by soldiers of German descent who traveled the area on a military campaign in 1864. A trail follows the river upstream for a few miles from Page Springs Campground. 

HERE is a map of the approximate area for reference.


ONDA created the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT) route a few years ago to link existing trails, old two track roads, and cross country travel as a way to introduce hikers to the stunning landscapes found in Oregon's high desert. The ODT travels high on the south side of the Donner und Blitzen River canyon, but as an alternate hikers could walk along the Blitzen River Trail from Page Springs to the confluence with Fish Creek and then climb up and travel cross country to meet the official route at Big Spring.

Volunteers will backpack to basecamp, approximately 1.5 miles from Page Springs Campground, and work with a variety of trail maintenance tools like loppers and hand saws to brush the trail and maintain the trail tread, and stack rocks for cairns to mark the route. Spring flooding has been compromising one section of the trail, so following the 2017 snow melt, we may focus our work on a reroute of the trail away from the eroded river bank.

We typically head to the work site at 8AM and stop work by 4PM in order to leave time in the afternoon to clean-up, relax, and cook a well-deserved dinner. The work will involve using loppers and hand saws to clear brush from the corridor of the trail, as well as a variety of other trail tools to clear and maintain the corridor according to the BLM trail standards. The section of trail we will be working on is along the scenic Donner und Blitzen River. ONDA will provide all instruction and necessary tools to do the job; no previous trail building experience is needed to attend this trip. All that is required is a love of the high desert, a big smile and a willingness to learn.

Blitzen River Trail


  • Enjoy the stunning beauty and incredible scale of the Steens Mountain Wilderness.
  • Help define the Blitzen River Trail for future recreation and as an alternate to the official Oregon Desert Trail.
  • The work will be physically strenuous.



      • Thursday, August 17th (5PM): We will meet at the Page Springs Campground, and backpack up the river about 1.5 miles to our campsite. This allows time for setting up camp, getting dinner, and a quick orientation about the plan for the coming day.
      • Friday, August 18th: After breakfast, we will receive instruction about the trail work and standards of maintenance and begin our work brushing and maintaining the trail tread. Volunteers should plan to be out all day and be prepared for a full day of hiking and doing physical work in full sun.
      • Saturday, August 19th: After breakfast, we will continue our work brushing, and maintaining the trail tread. Volunteers should plan to be out all day and be prepared for a full day of hiking and doing physical work in full sun.
      • Sunday, August 20th: After breakfast, we will pack up camp, and have time for a few hours of remaining trail work before we backpack back to our cars. We should be done in time for lunch.


              A view of the Donner und Blitzen River from above the Fish Creek confluence

              We will be backpacking to our camp approximately 1.5 miles in from the parking lot at Page Springs Campground. Click HERE for driving directions to Page Springs Campground from Bend.

              DIFFICULTY RATING:

              4 out of 5. This trip will require volunteers to backpack with full gear and tools, hike and use trail tools along a primitive trail. Click HERE for a description of the trip difficulty rating system.


              Participants are responsible for their own food, camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots are required for this trip. Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day each of the work days.

              PROVIDED BY ONDA:

              ONDA will provide tools for the work, expert leadership, and we can talk about long distance hiking on the Oregon Desert Trail! This is a backpacking-based trip, so volunteers will need to pack all their gear, and be prepared for an awesome backcountry camping experience.


              This trip will be led by ONDA's Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator, Renee Patrick
              Group size is limited to 12 participants.
              This trip is offered free of charge.

              Registration for this trip is now full.

              You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting the form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full and so your name has been placed on the “wait list”. Six weeks before the trip starts the trip leader will send out an RSVP e-mail to make sure everyone is still available to participate. Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc. However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the trip leader at the e-mail address above.

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              Oregon Natural Desert Association
              50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
              Bend, OR 97702
              Tel: (541) 330-2638

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