Little Blitzen Gorge

Bruce Jackson   Website

  • Distance

    3.1 - 9.3 miles one-way

  • Best Times To Visit

    spring; August to November

  • Dificulty

    3

  • Closest Town

    Frenchglen, Oregon

  • Drive Time

    2.5 hours from Burns, Oregon

Hike Description

The Little Blitzen Gorge Trail follows the Little Blitzen River up a long, glacially carved canyon. Expect wildflowers, springs, aspen, and waterfalls. From the trailhead parking lot, walk 100 yards to the start of the trail on the left. This path descends a mile to a bridgeless creek crossing that can typically be accomplished without soaking your footwear. After the crossing turn right on a fainter, brushier route and travel another 3.1 miles to 4-Mile Camp, a backpacking destination where big cottonwoods shade a streamside meadow. Adventurers can continue 3.8 miles up the Little Blitzen Gorge to a fork at a rimrock knoll that divides the canyon. To the left, a steep, rough path climbs past a small waterfall to reach the Steens Mountain Loop Road. To the right, the main trail continues faintly upriver 2.4 miles to a 20-foot waterfall at the lip of the valley’s cirque. Climbing out of the mile-wide bowl is tricky even at the easiest spot, beside a cascade to the right.

Notes and Advice:

  • The trailhead parking lot is a half mile east of the South Steens Campground, which has water and toilets.

Driving Directions

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. Approximately 9 miles past Frenchglen, turn left onto the Steens Mountain Loop Road south entrance and continue to the South Steens Campground 19 miles ahead. To find the trailhead, drive half a mile east of the campground and park at the marked trailhead on the right (south). Then walk up the road 100 yards to the start of the trail on the left (north).