16 miles round-trip (10 miles one-way w/ shuttle option)
Best Times To Visit
August to November
2 hours from Burns, Oregon
The Big Indian Gorge Trail is 8 miles to the headwall of the gorge and passes through meadows as well as cottonwood and aspen groves. It’s easy to follow for the first 7 miles and then it fades away and becomes a cross-country hike. There are three stream crossings along the way, which can be difficult or impassable at times during spring and early summer. The U-shaped gorges, carved by glaciers, are sure to amaze, as will the wildflowers and waterfalls. A number of primitive campsites exist along the way.
For those hikers interested in turning the round-trip hike into a one-way trip with a shuttle on the far end, plan for a climb out of the gorge to the Steens Loop Road and to add two miles, for a ten-mile one-way trip. From South Steens Campground hike up the gorge until the trail starts to disappear. The drainage on the north side of Big Indian Gorge is your exit, and is a steep 2,000’ cross-country hike up and out of the canyon. There are intermittent traces of a trail, and you may find yourself crossing back and forth over the seasonal creek on your climb out.
Notes and Advice:
- The trailhead is at the back of the South Steens Campground.
- Snow can be an obstacle early in the season. Contact the Bureau of Land Management in Burns at (541) 573-4100 or check their website for more information.
- If you are taking the one-way option with a shuttle, use your best judgment when parking along the Steens Loop Road at the east end of your hike.
From Burns, take State Highway 78 southeast for approximately 2 miles. Turn right onto State Highway 205 and travel south for 60 miles to Frenchglen. Travel approximately 9 miles, then turn left on the Steens Mountain Loop Road south entrance. The trailhead is found in the South Steens Campground, which is just over 18 miles from State Highway 205.