Vicinity Location: The trailhead is about 120 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon near the Crooked River Ranch.
From Portland, drive east on Highway 26, then take Highway 97 South. The drive from Portland is about 150 miles. Turn right just before Terrebonne onto NW Lower Bridge Way and drive 2.2 miles, following the signs to Crooked River Ranch.
Turn right onto NW 43rd St Continue to drive 1.8 miles and turn left on Chinook Drive.
Drive past Crooked River Ranch and follow this main road as it changes names from Chinook Drive to Club House Rd, to SW Ranch House Rd, to N Hill Rd, to Back Hill Rd, to SW Horny Hollow Trail, passing the golf course and clubhouse. Follow SW Horny Hollow Trail to the end of the road where the parking area and trailhead is.
The drive from Hwy 97 to the trailhead is just about 10.8 miles.
There are no restrooms at the trailhead.
No permits are needed to park at trailhead.
Otter Bench Trail, Horny Hollow Trail. Opal Pool Loop Trail, and Pink Trail with connections to Lone Pine Trail.
The Horny Hollow Trail is closed from February 1st through August 31st for wildlife habitat.
There is a geocache at: N 44° 28.851 W 121° 18.237
Info at Geocaching.com
Length and Elevation:
9 Miles Roundtrip for the loop. Elevation at the trailhead is 2,400 feet, Elevation gain totals 1,129 feet. Total gain and loss is 2,258 feet. Highest elevation is 2,600 feet.
Review: October 21, 2012.
This trail is popular with horses and mountain bikes. If you hear horses, or
see them coming, it is common courtesy to step about 20 feet off the trail on
the downhill side and let them pass. You probably can use a break from your
To start on the Otter Bench Trail, bear to the left and climb gently uphill. It goes on a
fairly sandy trail, past many juniper and sage plants. You can smell the sage
as you’re walking along.
Climb up above the flat bench and level out for a while. Beware this is
rattlesnake country and certain times of the year the snakes will be out.
After travelling about 1.6 miles, gently go downhill a bit through the
junipers, sagebrush, and grasses. At 1.8 miles you reach the junction with the
Pink Trail. This trail is a .75 mile descent down to the river and is only open
to hikers. Follow this trail a short way for views of the river and rapids, or
all the way down to the river.
The Pink Trail drops rapidly down into the Crooked River Gorge. The sound of
the nearby rapids provides a pleasant backdrop as you descend. In some spots
there are rock stairs that have been built and at another place the trail has
been so used over time that a rut has been worn into the softer rock.
At the bottom, enjoy the sounds of the river and gaze into the emerald water of
the river. This looks like a fantastic swimming hole on a hot day, though the
current is fairly swift.
The way back up is oh so much slower than the way down. Be sure not to put your
hands anywhere that you can’t see your handhold, in the event of a rattlesnake
sunning itself just where you want to put your hand. In fall of 2012 a hiker was
bitten doing just that.
Back at the trail junction, turn right and go gently uphill on an abandoned
road. The trail tops out and goes underneath some spectacular cliffs of
columnar basalt. From here the cliffs below partially obscure the river but you
can still hear the rapids. Continue to the next junction, which is another loop
with an overlook of Lake Billy Chinook.
About 3 miles from the trailhead you come to the next junction. Turn left,
heading for the overlook of Lake Billy Chinook. Taking this trail will get most
of the elevation gain completed in the first part of the hike. The trail rises
gently away from the junction, crossing a gently sloping hillside.
Reaching the point where the trail loops for the return, there is not a very
good view of Lake Billing Chinook. You can wander off trail for about .7 mile
and get a great view of the lake.
To get to the viewpoint, look for the user trail that leads north and follow
that for about .3 mile. Use your route finding skills to find a large grove of
junipers. From there, use the compass or GPS. For the GPS navigate to N 44° 30.025’ W 121°
17.24’ and for the compass, set a bearing of 72°
The Opal Pool Trail stays fairly level for about the first .75 mile, then
gently starts climbing up to the connector trail. The trail is about midway
between the canyon and the cliffs to the right, and goes through an open
Soon the trail rejoins the connector trail and you continue generally south,
heading upstream. At the next junction is the Horny Hollow Trail, which is the lower
trail and is seasonally closed. Take a left and walk down towards the river.
Note this is the other end of the trail that is closed seasonally.
Just where the trail approaches the river, is a place to wander to the edge and
view the rapids and river at the bottom of the canyon. Across the river, near
the rapids, is a great formation of columnar basalt that you can admire before
continuing back to the trailhead. This section of trail is more of a road, but
it is easy to walk on.
The lower route approaches the edge and it is a great place to take a break for
a snack or lunch. There are great views of the river as it flows through the
canyon, as well as sheer cliffs of columnar basalt. From here it is a short
walk back to the trailhead, so head on along the road to finish the hike.
This is a good trail to hike when there is cloudy weather, though mountain biking is a great alternative. Pink Trail and the user trail to the viewpoint are not mountain bike accessible.
Watch out for snakes and remember this trail is popular with mountain bikes and horses.
Enjoy the photos!!