Malheur River Trail - North End

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 5.5 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Loss: 200’
Trailhead Elevation: 4,780’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• Powerful river, 60’-80’ wide, whose roar is heard throughout canyon
• Well-built trail with a gentle grade makes for easy walking
• Old growth ponderosa pine forests along the river terraces
• Dramatic rock formations (tuff rims, basalt cliffs and talus slopes)
• Wildflowers in spring and songbirds throughout the summer
• Scenic views in a big river canyon

Minus Points
• Some short sections of trail are narrow, rocky and require caution
• A side creek and a few boggy seeps need to be crossed (no footbridges)

Download (PDF, 754 KB): Photos of Malheur River Trail - North
Download (PDF, 508 KB): Topo Map for Malheur River Trail - North
Download (PDF, 540 KB): Road Map for Malheur River Trail - North

Trail Notes
Map of Malheur River Trail - North End
For the first half mile, the trail runs down the west river bank through old growth ponderosa pine and alder thickets. Soon the canyon narrows a bit and steep canyon walls begin to define the corridor, rising 300’-800’ above the river. After crossing Miller Flat Creek at the one mile point, the trail slowly ascends a hundred feet in elevation, up to a cliff-top viewpoint in the most rugged part of the gorge.

Then, traversing a shale talus slope, the trail slowly descends back to the river’s edge into a mixed forest of ponderosa, fir and lodgepole. Found here also are some pure stands of western larch, the Northwest’s only deciduous conifer.

At about the 2.7 mile point, there are some nice riverside meadows, which can make for a good lunch destination and hike turnaround. If so inspired, though, one can continue hiking the trail downstream, which alternately climbs up from and then descends back to the river’s edge. However, don’t forget that the walk back to the trailhead is still uphill — though only a modest 200’ of elevation gain.

Road to Trailhead
From paved Road 16 on the west edge of Logan Valley, drive south on gravel Road 1643 for about 9.0 miles to Dollar Basin, the first extensive sagebrush flat one encounters. At Dollar Basin, turn left on dirt Road 1651 and follow the signs for 1.6 miles to Malheur Ford and the trailhead. Here you’ll find a small gravel parking lot at the edge of a lovely riverside meadow, plus a vault toilet and a trail sign.

Camping Options
One option is to camp right at the trailhead at Malheur Ford. The parking lot here is small and there are only 2-3 camping spots at most, which will only work for tent campers and very small camping trailers. There is a vault toilet here, but no potable water supply.

The next closest option is the Big Creek Campground in scenic Logan Valley, about 14 miles north of the trailhead. This is a big, developed campground with 14 sites, vault toilets, tables, grills and drinking water. The fee is $8.00 per night in 2011. The spring wildflower display in Logan Valley is worth the visit here, as are the potential elk, deer and sandhill crane sightings in the extensive meadows.

Agency Contact: Malheur National Forest, Prairie City District, (541) 575-3000

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local federal land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 12/20/11