Black Canyon

Charyn McDonnell

  • Distance

    3.1 miles (to the waterfall), 9 miles (to the rim - difficulty 4)

  • Best Times To Visit


  • Dificulty


  • Closest Town

    Mitchell, Oregon


Most of the hikes in the area ascend Sutton Mountain, but this Black Canyon hike offers a nice change of pace, although you can achieve the Sutton rim by hiking all the way through Black Canyon.

The first 1.5 miles is relatively flat, but the going gets interesting as the path encounters a waterfall that will need to be climbed to continue the hike up to the top. Look for the waterfall (it is usually dry most of the year) on the right, and shimmy your way up to continue your hike up the drainage. Traces of the trail appear and disappear in the canyon as you ascend to the top.

Along with the sagebrush and juniper characteristic of the high desert, Sutton Mountain provides vital habitat to the threatened arrowleaf thelypody and Peck’s milkvetch species and was recently proposed as a national monument. As you explore this part of the Sutton Mountain Wilderness Study Area you can be on the lookout for pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, pygmy rabbit, and Western toad.

Look for waterfalls, small offshoots from the main canyon and multiple access points to steep grassy hills that lead right to the summit. It’s 3.1 miles round-trip to reach the waterfall, but plan on hiking roughly 5 miles to take in side trips. A hike to the Sutton rim is a 9-mile round-trip.

Notes and Advice:

  • This trailhead is quite discrete. Look for a small parking area on the west side of the road. 

Driving Directions

From Bend, head north miles on Highway 97 to Redmond. Continue east to Ochoco Highway 126 and then drive 20 miles to Prineville. For access to the east side of Sutton Mountain, including Black Canyon and Dead Dog, continue 47 miles to Mitchell and head north on Service Creek/Mitchell Highway 207 for 9.7 miles. Turn left on Girds Creek Road/Twickenham Road and continue 4.1 miles to Black Canyon Trailhead on the west side of the road.