The news on the trails is old news: It is “dry ... very, very, very dry out there," said Chris Sabo, U.S. Forest Service trails specialist.
But the good news is a forecast for possible precipitation coming in over the weekend — “and we are dearly hoping for it to arrive ... and keep the dust down and the fires," said Sabo. The Forest Service has received a report of a possibly escaped campfire near Three Fingered Jack.
“We are asking folks to keep their fire small if they do decide to have one in a legal location and be sure, be sure, be sure to extinguish it before leaving the campsite (for any purpose). We don’t need any more of these wilderness fires. That’s the bottom line," said Sabo.
Trail closures around the Pole Creek Fire will continue until further notice. Some ski and snowmobile trails in the upper Three Creek Lake area are expected to remain closed throughout the winter due to severe damage from the fire.
The Tumalo Falls trailhead is also closed at least until a court decision on the city of Bend pipeline project is reached, said Sabo.
Other than the dust and extreme fire risk, the trails that are open are in great condition, and the warm, mild weather continues (for a few more days anyway) to provide opportunity for summer hiking.
Keep in mind though that with the change of seasons, the weather can change unexpectedly, warned Sabo. “(Trail users) can end up in a snowstorm before the end of the day ... Be sure to take the important 10 essential systems gear with you and watch that weather forecast," especially with the rain expected this weekend.
Winter trail preparation is expected to start over the next weeks, when the fire danger decreases.
Those interested in helping out with trail maintenance or stocking shelters should contact their favorite local ski, snowshoe or snowmobile club for more information or contact the Deschutes National Forest office at 541-383-5300.
Trail activity to be aware of includes the possibility of hunting traffic and also some restoration work on the Metolius River trails.
Access to Newberry Crater, the Cascade Lakes Highway and Forest Road 370 to the Broken Top trailhead will remain open until the snow starts falling, said Sabo.
— Lydia Hoffman, The Bulletin