Located in the Blue Mountains along the eastern border of Oregon, the Malheur National Forest covers over 1.7 million acres. Created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, this forest varies in elevation from 4,000 feet in its deepest valleys to 9,038 feet at the peak of Strawberry Mountain. Inside the forest are two wilderness areas—Monument Rock Wilderness and Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Several roads run through the forest, most of which are gravel or dirt, making access to its interior available for RVs up to 40 feet in length. The scenery is impressive, and horses are welcome to explore those deep valleys where the streams are packed with fish. People from as far away as Portland and Eugene, OR, love to visit this beautiful forest while staying in nearby communities like Canyon City, OR.
The Strawberry Basin Trail takes you past Strawberry Lake and into an alpine valley. Along the way, you get fantastic views of Strawberry Mountain and the hills beyond. Snow remains on these peaks long after it has melted in the valleys, providing extra runoff to fuel the 60-foot waterfall you discover near the trail’s end.
Length: 4.9 miles
Summit Trail is a short spur that reaches the summit of Strawberry Mountain. From Strawberry Mountain’s summit, you can see vast swaths of forest, the roads that travel through it, and the streams and rivers that drain away the snowmelt. Though the spur is short, it is steep and strewn with rocks.
Length: 0.3 miles
The Sunshine Flat Trail is a wide pathway that allows for hiking, biking, and motorcycling. There are several mountain sightings revealed along this route as it was logged years ago, and seedlings have not yet blocked the view. Along the way, you pass several meadows where dispersed camping is allowed.
Length: 4.1 miles
If you are an experienced hiker and if you want to take on a more challenging approach to the peak of Strawberry Mountain, then try the Onion Creek Trail. This trail climbs 3,500 feet over 4 miles of rocky terrain. Even the few meadows through which the trail passes are challenging.
Length: 6.5 miles
Slide Creek Trail takes you along Slide Creek to Slide Lake, the stream's source. The hike elevates you over 3,000 feet during its course. Toward the end of the trail, hikers are near the summit of Lookout Mountain and are privy to some amazing views of the forest below.
Length: 5.4 miles
Many urban dwellers come to this forest for the challenge of fishing in the high mountains. Nearly every stream and lake is packed with elusive cutthroat trout, one of the favorite dishes that anglers enjoy. Some lakes require a considerable hike to reach while others are immediately accessible along a roadside.
The game of geocaching is tolerated in the Malheur National Forest, except in the wilderness areas. If you are looking to plant a cache, take a side trip to the visitor center to get maps of the region. These maps are labeled with coordinates to keep geocaching in its proper locations.
As long as the weather cooperates, anywhere you go in the Malheur National Forest is a stargazer’s dream. Even at the lowest elevations, the night sky is lit with wonders dimmed by city lights but clear here. The higher elevations provide an even more magnificent sight as stars unseen before crowd into view.
Address: 431 Patterson Bridge Road, John Day, OR 97845
Fee: Entry fee $0
An RV is the perfect vehicle to use when visiting the Malheur National Forest. With roads permeating the forest, RVs can reach far into its secret places. When you take off for a hike or climb down to a stream or uphill to a lake to fish, you will find comfort in the realization that you have a private spot to which you can return. With the living quarters provided by an RV, you are well rested when you arise the next day for a new set of adventures.