From the first parking area by a lone tree, follow a primitive path up a canyon into Spring Basin Wilderness. The trail reaches the top of Spring Basin Canyon in 1.1 miles, climbing 800′ from the parking area. This area has a network of primitive two-track roads that are marked as trails on some maps, but vegetation has obscured most of these, and they can be difficult to follow. These routes branch out to the north and south, both directions offer excellent views of the John Day Basin.
For an additional challenge (9 miles round-trip):
From the top of the approach trail, turn left onto a faint two-track road that has all but disappeared, hiking up and down a series of hills that preside over Spring Basin Canyon. Once you reach the north shoulder of Horse Mountain (a very prominent landmark at the center of this wilderness area), turn south and hike to the top, enjoying the views along the way. Return the same way you came.