Shake Table Hike

NOTE: Shake Table burned in South Fork Complex Fire of September 2014.
It may be a few years before this area recovers for recreational use.

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 4.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 270’
Trailhead Elevation: 4,360’
Best Season: June through September;
after soils dry out in spring
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• A pleasant, cross-country ramble up onto a flat tableland
• Shake Table is a protected Research Natural Area
• Plant communities are low sagebrush/bunchgrass with scattered junipers
• Panoramic vistas of Aldrich Mountains and South Fork John Day River
• Potential for wild horse sightings in early summer, when grass is still green
• An historical wild horse trap is found on the access trail
• Solitude is nearly guaranteed up on the top

Minus Points
• No developed trail up on top and walking is over thin soils and exposed rocks
• Can be extremely muddy in early spring (best to wait until the soils dry out!)

Download (PDF, 804 KB): Photos of Shake Table Hike
Download (PDF, 452 KB): Topo Map for Shake Table Hike
Download (GPX, 4 KB): GPS Points for Shake Table Hike
Download (PDF, 592 KB): Road Map for Shake Table Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Shake Table Hike
The trailhead is a pullout to the right (north) on Road 2490, at the bottom of a low swale (GPS Point 1). The trail follows a jeep road northeast down onto the floodplain of South Fork Murderers Creek, then crosses the creek and goes down the north bank, through willows and grass meadows. At GPS Point 2, an obvious wild horse trail leaves the floodplain and ascends the south flank of Shake Table.

Within two hundred yards, the trail passes through an historical wild horse trap made of pine poles. This elongated corral, with a gate at each end, was apparently activated by first closing the downhill gate, allowing the unsuspecting horses on the trail to enter the trap on the uphill side, then rushing to close the uphill gate before they escaped.

The horse trail continues uphill onto a wide flat bench just below the top of Shake Table (GPS Point 3). Here the horse trail forks into many branches and it's probably best to just strike out cross country. One option is to walk to an abandoned water guzzler (GPS Point 4), then west along the north edge of the table with great views of the Aldrich Mountain range, to the summit point.

Road to Trailhead
The roads to this trailhead, once they dry out in late spring, can be traveled with any passenger car. From paved Road 21, follow paved Road 2170 for 2.2 miles. Turn left onto dirt/gravel Road 2490 and proceed 4.2 miles to a pullout on the right, in a low swale, just before the road starts uphill (GPS Point 1 marks the trailhead).

Camping Options
The closest developed campground is the Oregon Mine Campground, about 6 miles from the trailhead, east back up the Murderers Creek canyon off paved Road 2170. This is a small campground, sandwiched between Murderers Creek and the paved road. There are four free sites, with a vault toilet but no drinking water.

If self-contained, with your own sanitation and drinking water, there are at least 8-10 nice dispersed camping sites along paved Road 21, where it parallels the north bank of Murderers Creek. There are also nice dispersed sites off Road 2170, along the stream above the Oregon Mine Campground. The USFS has officially sanctioned many of these sites with gravel driveways and camping pads.

Agency Contact: Malheur National Forest, Blue Mountain 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: 12/21/11