North Fork Sprague River Hikes

NOTE: The North Fork Sprague River area burned in Bootleg Fire of July 2021. It may be a few years before this area recovers for recreational use.

West Hike
Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 5.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100’
Trailhead Elevations: 6,090’
Best Season: July through September;
after spring runoff has subsided
Driving Access: Any vehicle

East Hike
Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 2.7 miles roundtrip
Elevation Loss: 35’
Trailhead Elevation: 6,250’
Best Season: July through September
            after spring runoff has subsided
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• Two separate hikes along a designated Wild-and-Scenic river
• Extensive riverside meadows, with sage uplands flanked by pine forests
• Secluded and easy hiking on grassy streamside terraces
• The eastern hike is through ungrazed, pristine riparian meadows
• Lots of wildflowers into summer, especially on ungrazed eastern hike
• Easy trailhead access, off good roads and near campgrounds (details below)

Minus Points
• No official trail, so hiking is along streamside cow trails
• The western hike has at least one stream crossing, so wear suitable footwear
• Cows may be present on the western hike up to about August 1

Download (PDF, 691 KB): Photos of North Fork Sprague River Hikes
Download (PDF, 400 KB): Topo Map for North Fork Sprague River Hikes
Download (PDF, 440 KB): Road Map for North Fork Sprague River Hikes

Trail Notes
Map of North Fork Sprague River Hikes
The western hike begins at the Sandhill Crossing bridge and follows a cow trail on the north bank of the river upstream. For the first half mile, the stream flows through a small forested canyon. The hike is then through open sagebrush flats for a mile beside the stream, where cows are likely to be present up until August 1. After a mile, the stream flows east to west in a tight rocky canyon, before broadening out into open meadow lands.

One can ford the stream anywhere here, as both banks are walkable. For the last mile, there’s a nice route along the north bank, through streamside meadows and pine forest, to the turnaround at fenced private land on Lee Thomas Meadow.

The eastern hike begins at the bridge near the Lee Thomas Campground and follows the east bank downstream for over a mile. This river segment has not been grazed for many years and was in pristine condition in 2011. Expect to see lots of wildflowers, streamside willows and tall grass. The hike turnaround point is the road culvert and fenced private land at Lee Thomas Crossing.

Road to Trailhead
Both trailheads are easily accessible off gravel Road 3411. The western trailhead is on the northeast bank at the Sandhill Crossing bridge, near the Sandhill Crossing Campground. The eastern trailhead is just east of the Lee Thomas Campground, at the bridge where Road 3411 crosses the river, on the east bank.

Camping Options
There are two developed campgrounds in the area, both with vault toilets and potable drinking water. They've both have been extensively cleared of beetle-killed pines and can appear quite stark — but they are the best camping options in this area. As both campgrounds are near wet meadows, be prepared for a few mosquitoes.

The Lee Thomas Campground has eight sites next to a large rock outcrop that overlooks Lee Thomas Meadow, with no camping fee. A pole fence encircles this campground, but there’s easy access through a gate to the meadow and the North Fork Sprague River.

The Sandhill Crossing Campground has five sites on an elevated bench above the river, and also has no fee. There’s nice views up and down the canyon from this campground, though it is unfenced, so you may encounter a few wandering cows here.

Agency Contact: Fremont National Forest, Paisley District, (541) 943-3114

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: 1/16/13