REI Continues Support of the Oregon Desert Trail

The Oregon Desert Trail (ODT) has made a lot of progress in the past year thanks to the continued support of the hiking community, gateway community partners, ONDA members and the outdoor industry. Highlights include 8 completed thru-hikes of the 750 mile route, 23 Oregon Desert Trail presentations throughout Oregon and Idaho reaching over 1,500 people, and 18 outdoor gear companies and retailers contributing to the development of the ODT.

REI, which has generously supported ONDA’s conservation and stewardship efforts in Oregon’s high desert for nearly a decade, has awarded the Oregon Desert Trail project funds from their community grants program.

“This year REI has awarded the ODT program $10,000,” explained Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator Renee Patrick. “REI’s support for the ODT will serve to  enhance hiking opportunities in eastern Oregon, for which ONDA is most grateful.”

For the first time the Oregon Desert Trail program has been broadened to include trail maintenance opportunities on the existing trail tread along the route. The REI grant will help fund four stewardship trips including in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Fremont National Forest, and Steens Mountain Wilderness.

“We held our first trip on National Trails day in early June,” Patrick said. “ONDA volunteers worked with the Prineville BLM and Friends of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness to build 2.3 miles of new trail out of the Larry Chitwood Trailhead on the western side of the wilderness, a portion of that on the Oregon Desert Trail.” Future stewardship trips will maintain trail along the shared corridor of the Fremont National Recreation Trail, Blitzen River Trail, and Big Indian Gorge Trail.

Through the Oregon Desert Trail’s sponsorship program, companies can contribute to the ongoing development of the Oregon Desert Trail.  Trail sponsors connect hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and other quiet recreationists with the incredibly diverse landscape ONDA has been striving to protect, defend, and restore for 30 years.

Thanks to REI’s partnership, ODT enthusiasts can use the free Hiking Project website and app to explore the Oregon Desert Trail. Sections 1-9 have been added to the program, with the rest slated to be added this year. Software users will find ODT elevation profiles, a slimmed down version of the guidebook, and a real-time view of where hikers are on the route. Important junctions between cross-country and trail sections are marked as well as water sources. And yes, it can be used when internet and cell coverage is unavailable!

Look for future collaborations between REI and the Oregon Desert Trail including presentations, clinics, and opportunities to learn the skills needed to hike in the high desert. And, once again, thank you REI for supporting ONDA and the ODT!