Hart Mountain Area Hikes

Day Hikes in the Hart Mountain Area
The Hart Mountain area offers some of the most appealing day hikes in Southeast Oregon. Though tucked away at the end of a paved highway in the remote high desert east of Lakeview, its rims and canyons are accessible from good roads leading to the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. The refuge attracts many summer visitors, but there are still less-traveled day hikes to be found in the area, off the beaten path. Supplies (gas, groceries, etc.) are available in the nearby town of Plush, OR.

Hart Mountain itself is a massive, uplifted, north-south fault block that rises 3,000 feet above the floor of the Warner Valley in a series of steep cliffs, rugged slopes and basalt rims. This uplifted mountain range catches nearly 30 inches of rainfall per year, creating streams that flow westward through steep gorges into Warner Valley and also Guano Creek, which flows more gradually eastward through long rolling hills into Guano Valley and Shirk Lake. This diverse combination of high basalt rims, deep stream canyons and desert wetlands occurs in a relatively small geographic area, giving it a compact, almost intimate feel.

Download (PDF, 523 KB): Location Map of Hart Mountain Area Hikes
Download (PDF, 539 KB): Photos of Hart Mountain Area

Most visitors to the area stay at the Hot Springs Campground on the refuge, using this as a base for the 2.5-mile walk up Rock Creek into the Barnhardi Basin or, if more ambitious, hiking 3 miles further to the 8,000’ summit of Warner Peak. Though this is a nice area to visit, those seeking solitude and a more remote wilderness experience will find plenty of alternatives nearby.

  • Poker Jim Ridge Hike
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The open terrain of the Hart Mountain area and its dramatic rims and canyons provide many options for cross-country rambles.

The most accessible canyon on the west slope of Hart Mountain is DeGarmo Canyon, which descends 2,500’ from the high rim down to the Warner Valley. Most visitors only hike the first 0.7 miles to a waterfall and leave the rugged upper canyon unexplored. On the west side of the Warner Valley is an easy day hike along Lynch’s Rim, with spectacular views of the Warner lakes and wetlands 2,000’ below. Up on the refuge, besides the ubiquitous pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep sightings are a possibility on day hikes along Poker Jim Ridge and up Willow Creek to the high plateau of Hart Mountain.

Lynch’s Rim Hike
DeGarmo Canyon Hike
Poker Jim Ridge Hike
Willow Creek Hike

For truly adventurous travelers, the trip to remote Guano Valley, southeast of the refuge, can be worth the extra effort. It’s a slow, 12-mile drive over a rutted dirt road and there are no camping facilities here, but one is rewarded with wilderness solitude, the historical buildings of the abandoned Shirk Ranch, waterfowl and shorebirds at Shirk Lake, plus a wonderful day hike up Guano Creek.

Shirk Lake Hike
Guano Creek Hike

Clickable map of Hart Mountain area hikes:

Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map Hart Mountain Area Clickable Map

Page last updated: 1/15/13