Hiking in Central Oregon ~ Billy Chinook and Smith Rock

{Dates of Visit: Aug 25- Sep 4, 2014}



We made two stops along the way as we moseyed to the Bend, Oregon area for the Sister's Folk Festival in 2014. The first was at PGE Pelton Park on Lake Simtustus. The park is run by the Portland General Electric which is making an effort to balance out the energy needs of consumers with environmental responsibility through habitat restoration, fish protection and by working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee to build platforms for nesting. They've built, and maintain, four campgrounds and several day use areas and boat ramp access points for people who enjoy the outdoors. We found Pelton Park to be quite enjoyable, inexpensive and rustic (but with hook-ups too).





Our site had a lovely view of the lake, which was pretty spectacular in the early morning hours when everything was calm and the water mirror-like. The park is ideal for those who want to kayak, canoe or fish but there isn't a lot of hiking originating here. However, we made a day trip Lake Billy Chinook to hike the Tam-a-lau Trail. This 6 mile round trip hike offers some pretty amazing views of the Cascade Mountains and the Deschuttes and Crooked Rivers. This ancient trail was once part of a trade route and was later homesteaded by settlers. Evidence of old stone walls can still be found. Our recommendation? Pack a nice lunch and stay for sunset (provided you have a headlamp to help navigate your way back to the parking lot). Downloadable trail map and info can be found here. Be sure to check out the nearby Balanced Rocks for some interesting rock formations. You can find directions and information here.

Clark lounging in the grass with Miso near our camp site...the Mutiny is in the background.
Avi and Miso thoroughly enjoyed all the grass at the fairgrounds...
Our next stop was Jefferson Country Fairgrounds RV Park in Madras, Oregon.We really love Smith Rock State Park and never pass up an opportunity to visit when we're nearby. We ended up staying at the Fairgrounds a full week and pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. At $110 per week for 30amp service and $115 for 50amp it's quite a deal even if it is a sleepy little town.

Oh darn, the bartender made too much margarita...I guess we gotta help dispose of the evidence.
We managed to find some really good Mexican food at Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine and I took two quality yoga classes at Madras Yoga Center. And, of course, we hiked Smith Rock again. Madras may only be a small blip on the map but the people are very friendly and the proximity to Smith Rock (and let's not forget the cheap camping) make it a nice basecamp for visiting the surrounding areas.


Smith Rock State Park offers trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and running. It's open to rock climbers and slack-liners as well. Leashed pets are allowed which makes it an ideal area to play with your furbabies Just be extra aware of the temperatures and likelihood of dehydration and heat exhaustion for both yourself and your dogs. A couple of years back Clark and I had to assist a heat exhaustion victim down Misery Ridge when he failed to bring any water yet decided to hike up the most difficult section in the heat of the day, and in full sun.







Here you can see part of the Misery Ridge switchbacks.








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