Sunday, April 24, 2022
After packing up camp along the John Day River this morning we headed to Criterion Ranch for a hike before heading home.
This is a piece of BLM land also known as the Criterion Tract and it is sandwiched between the Deschutes River and Highway 197. Here is a link to the BLM map.
We parked at the North Trailhead:
From here we had a view of Mt. Hood on this clear day:
We set off down the main “road” that heads west from the trailhead. Cows are allowed to graze on this public land and they have totally destroyed the road, which was chewed up from thousands of hooves:
We could see the Three Sisters and other mountains in the distance:
Deb spotted a mountain bluebird:
We veered from the rough road and took a break on the some rocks:
From here we had a view of the Deschutes River below us:
We could see the top of Mt. Jefferson and Olallie Butte:
I’ve always heard about all the flowers one can see at Criterion, but we didn’t see many. These were blooming around our break spot:
As we headed back to the road to continue our hike we saw horseback riders passing by. Seems like a much better way to travel across this rough cow-destroyed landscape:
We passed by an old broken-down trailer:
There was a lizard hanging out there:
Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams:
We saw a patch of phlox:
And some daggerpod:
The road made for very rough walking, and heading cross country through the sagebrush wasn’t any better. Everything was just so chewed up from the cows. So we decided to turn around and make our way back. But it was a gorgeous, warm, sunny, wind-free day and we were in no hurry, so we took another break on the way back. It was nice to sit here without any wind, just soaking up the sun:
This is a pretty area, but the cows have just destroyed it. If I ever return, I’d like to try hiking up from the Deschutes River side and see if it’s any better.
Gaia stats: 6.6 miles, 174′ elevation gain
Deb’s bird observations: turkey vultures, osprey, golden eagle, bald eagles, common ravens, horned lark, mountain bluebirds, chipping sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, vesper sparrows, song sparrow, western meadowlarks, and some high-flying swallows