Smith Rock is a super fun place to visit, but it is crowded. Depending on your reason for visiting, you might be better off checking out the public lands that border the state park to the north. This area of the Ochoco National Forest, known as the Crooked River National Grassland, offers dispersed camping, mountain…

  To kick off my 40 in 40 Peak Bagging challenge, I took my birthday off from work and hiked the first summit. My target was Peak 4230, a summit named only by its elevation, overlooking Smith Rock State Park. I highly recommend this hike as a way to get away from the crowded main trails…

The Painted Hills is a small, remote unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It is known for its colorful hills and fossil remains, and is a popular place for those who want to break up the long drive along highway 26. The Painted Hills are a little under 2 hours from Bend, OR…

Now that it is after Labor Day, I decided it was time to visit Matthieu Lakes. It’s a popular trail off of McKenzie-Santiam Scenic Byway, so I wanted to wait until the crowds died off. In addition, the trail also passes through some marshy areas, so I wanted to give the bugs plenty of time to…

Hikers have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the Lassen Peak Trail, which closed in 2009 after a tragic accident. In the years since, the park has been rebuilding and stabilizing the route. It reopened to the public last summer and the official dedication event is this coming Saturday, July 30, at 10 am.

Last weekend was my birthday, and as usual, I was suffering from a head cold. That seems to happen every year. I had made a half-effort to plan an outing to the snow, but going to elevation with a stuffy head usually leaves me with an ear infection. So instead, I decided to find a…

Carrizo Plain is a wilderness area in the middle of nowhere between Kern county oilfields and Paso Robles. At first glance one wonders why this is a special place, but it has a lot going on. In particular, the spring wildflower displays are legendary. Our last visit, in 2010, was an amazing experience of exploration and photography.