Spring Basin Trail Inventory

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Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

“If I have to pick a favorite place in Oregon’s high desert, it would be Sutton Mountain, but I’m excited about all of the Wilderness Study Areas,” says Terry, adding, “Each is a gem to explore, and I hope they all get protection someday… I love the scale of the physical beauty of the desert.”


Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

Stewardship Pronghorn Fence


Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day Country, Spring Basin is magnificent to explore This public treasure, forever protected as Wilderness, offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback

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Organizer: Renee Patrick

Start Date: 5/17/2019

End Date: 5/19/2019

Region: John Day River Basin

Difficulty Rating: 4 out of 5

Maximum Group Size: 12 participants

About the place

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day country, Spring Basin Wilderness is magnificent to explore. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the wilderness area, and this public treasure offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring, and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback riders, hunters and botanists alike.

About the stewardship work

Spring Basin Wilderness is a small wilderness area close to the John Day River that is relatively unknown. There is little recreation infrastructure in the area and the “trails” that do exist are primitive two-track roads that cross the landscape. The vegetation and terrain lends itself to cross country exploration and this stewardship trip will explore on-trail and off-trail hiking options.

On this stewardship trip volunteers will learn about sustainable recreation and some basic navigational skills to hike and document the existing trails in the wilderness and scout some new routes to create a series of loop hike options in the area.

Volunteers will hike up to 10 miles a day in the wilderness, practice on-trail and off-trail navigation and utilize sustainable recreation best practices. No previous off-trail hiking experience is needed to attend this trip; ONDA will provide all instruction and necessary tools to do the job.

Trip Timeline

  • Friday, May 17, 12 p.m.: We will meet at the Spring Basin Trailhead, backpack about a mile into our basecamp and spend the afternoon learning about sustainable recreation best practices, and on-trail and off-trail hiking and navigation.
  • Saturday, May 18: After breakfast, volunteers will hike up to 10 miles to inventory existing routes and scout some new routes to document a series of loop hike options in the area.
  • Sunday, May 19: After breakfast, volunteers will spend the morning practicing our on-trail and off-trail navigation skills in the area and finish any trail scouting that is still needed. We should be back to our cars around 3 p.m.


We will be backpacking to our basecamp, approximately one mile in from our cars. We will be meeting at 12 p.m. at the Spring Basin Trailhead before hiking in together. Please be prepared for primitive camping.


Level 4

This trip will require volunteers to backpack approximately one mile with full packs and enough water for 1.5-2 days at a dry basecamp. Volunteers need to be prepared to day-hike up to 10 miles with significant elevation gain and loss both on-trail and off-trail.

Participant Responsibilities

Participants are responsible for their own food, water and camping gear, as well as transportation to and from the trip. Please bring a compass and/or GPS device if you have one. ONDA will be providing some devices for use. In the event of sunny and hot weather, please bring at least four liters of water capacity for each day (8-10 liters are suggested for the duration of the trip), and consider an electrolyte replacement drink or mix to help you stay hydrated. Sturdy off-trail shoes are suggested for this trip. Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day and bring a daypack for lunch, snacks, and water.

Gear Provided

ONDA will provide GPS tools for the inventory work, expert leadership, and we can talk about long distance backpacking on and off trails. This is a backpacking-based trip, so volunteers will need to pack their gear and water, and be prepared for an awesome backcountry camping experience.


An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this trip. Check the box next to each trip you would like to attend. You only need to fill this form out once per year.

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What happens next?

You will receive a confirmation email within 10 working days of submitting your form. The confirmation email will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the “waitlist.”

Six weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs, open spaces will be backfilled with people from the waitlist.

Three weeks before the trip start date, registered and confirmed participants will receive driving instructions, maps, carpooling options, and additional information in an email sent by the trip leader.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the trip leader.