Ochoco National Forest is located in Prineville, Oregon, near the state’s geographic center. There are 845,498 acres to this forest, and it’s divided into three ranger districts, which are the Paulina, Snow Mountain, and Lookout Mountain ranger districts. It administers land in the Ochoco and Maury Mountains, with the Ochoco Mountains draining in the John Day River. You’ll find more than 375 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as 15 species of game fish and several types of non-game fish species. The forest includes three Congressionally designated wilderness areas known as Wildcat Caldera, the North Fork Crooked Wild and Scenic River, and various geological remnant rock formations. Visitors to Ochoco National Forest enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and much more.
This trail has wildflowers and is best traveled between May and October. You can take dogs and horses on Steins Pillar Trail. It has an elevation of 770 feet above sea level.
Length: 3.8 miles
This trail is a lightly trafficked trail used mostly for bringing out horses, hiking, and trail running. You can take dogs out onto this trail. It has an elevation of 1,148 feet above sea level.
Length: 6.4 miles
This point-to-point trail has light traffic. There are various activity options, and it’s best when used between May and October. You can take dogs on the trail. It has an elevation of 2,063 feet above sea level.
Length: 9.3 miles
This out-and-back trail has beautiful wildflowers and is best when used between May and September. You can bring dogs, but they must stay on leashes. It has an elevation of 3,333 feet above sea level.
Length: 15.2 miles
This lightly maintained trail is on the narrow side. It only has a slight elevation gain, and the trailhead is located at a small primitive campground. Be aware that there is a stream crossing, which can be muddy.
Length: 5.6 miles
You can fish at the Ochoco National Forest at lakes and ponds. Some spots where you are allowed to do so include Lake Billy Chinook, Haystack Reservoir, Cottonwood Pit Campground, and Antelope Flat Reservoir.
The difficulty level of geocaching in this area is rated a two. You can access the area all year, but you should be prepared to use snowshoes or skis in the winter.
There are prime opportunities for nature watching at Ochoco National Forest. Bird watching is especially enjoyable here as many species of birds make their home in the forest, including osprey, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and Steller’s jays.
Every August, the Oregon Star Party gathers at Indian Trail Spring, which is 45 miles east of Prineville, to do some stargazing. The sky tends to get very dark, and there is very little light pollution. This, combined with the low humidity in the area, makes the 40 acres of Indian Trail Spring that this group uses excellent for stargazing.
Address: 3160 NE Third St., Prineville, OR 97754
Fee: Entry fee $0
Ochoco National Forest offers great opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, hiking, trail running, rock collecting, geocaching, and more. There are seven campsites on which you can go RV camping. Taking an RV for your trip is an amazing way to experience the Ochoco National Forest and the surrounding areas.