If you go...

Directions: From Sisters, drive about 10 miles northwest on U.S. Highway 20. Turn right on Road 14 toward Camp Sherman. After 2.7 miles, bear left and go 2 miles north on Road 1419, then 3.4 miles north on Road 1420. Turn right on Road 400 and follow for a mile to the trailhead at Canyon Creek Campground. Trails can also be accessed at all campgrounds along the Metolius.

Difficulty: Easy.

Every time I go to the Metolius River, I am reminded of the words Jeff Perin, owner of the Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters, told me years ago during a fishing outing on the renowned river:

“This place is a gift.”

It truly is. It is a gift to fly anglers — but it is also a gift to hikers.

Sure, fishing and hiking often go hand in hand. But for those who simply want to make a trek along the picturesque river northwest of Sisters, the Metolius can easily be considered a hiking destination as well as a place to wet a line.

The river starts from springs under the north side of Black Butte and rushes — cold and clear — for 29 miles north to Lake Billy Chinook.

Along several of those miles are trails that in many places line both banks of the river. These trails, cutting through meadows, pines, firs and bushes, are well-worn by anglers seeking pools that hold native rainbow and bull trout.

The trails also cut through about 10 campgrounds along the river, making the Metolius an ideal camping/hiking/fishing destination. I take my kids there at least once every summer for just such a trip.

Hikers can walk trails all the way from the head of the Metolius on the river’s south end to Candle Creek Campground to the north. Trail signs are posted at most campgrounds, and an official trailhead is located at Lower Canyon Creek Campground.

Last month, my son Mason and I made the trip from Bend to the Metolius for two nights of camping and one day of hiking. Our base camp was Allen Springs Campground, situated at the base of Green Ridge. We found an empty, nonreserved site right on the river and quickly got to work setting up camp.

After an evening of s’mores and stargazing and a good night’s sleep in the tent, we chowed down on a camp-stove breakfast of bacon and eggs, then set out on our trek along the river.

From Allen Springs, we made our way upstream, watching the river change from a slow, meandering stream to a mix of narrow torrents and deep, blue pools. Fly anglers clad in waders lined the banks, casting over and over again for a chance at a trout.

We crossed a bridge and headed to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, where we gazed at the big trout in the various hatchery pools.

In this area, trails flank both sides of the river, and we continued along the west side of the Metolius to the trailhead at Lower Canyon Creek. There, we noticed a large spring rushing down the bank along the opposite shore.

We turned back north toward Allen Springs Campground, the trail taking us high above the river in some spots and right along its bank in others. We walked along a steep canyon through old-growth ponderosa pine trees and abundant purple, yellow and red wildflowers.

Continuing past our campground all the way down to Lower Bridge Campground, we crossed the bridge and walked south along the east trail.

By the time we returned to our campsite at Allen Springs, we had hiked about 6 miles through the beautiful and varied forest along the crystal-clear Metolius.

Hikers can take on much longer treks on the trails along the Metolius, which offer a special way to explore the gift of this river.

Bring the fly rod or leave it at home — either way, the Metolius does not disappoint.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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