Poker Jim Ridge Hike

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 6.1 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Gain: 650’
Trailhead Elevation: 5,670’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: High-clearance vehicle

Plus Points
• A cow-free, cross-country hike along a 1,500’-high, fault block escarpment
• Sweeping, panoramic vistas west to the Warner Valley and its pothole lakes
• Long views to the east of Steens Mtn., the Catlow Rim and the Pueblo Mtns.
• Pronghorn antelope and mule deer are commonly seen on the open sage flats
• Bighorn sheep sightings are a possibility along Poker Jim Ridge
• Native American pictographs on a low basalt rim beside a desert lake

Minus Points
• No established trail, but walking is easy over the low sage and short bunchgrass
• Few trees or shade, except along rim, so it’s best to start in early AM on hot days
• Afternoon thunderstorms can present a lightning hazard along the rim

Download (PDF, 605 KB): Photos of Poker Jim Ridge Hike
Download (PDF, 693 KB): Topo Map for Poker Jim Ridge Hike
Download (GPX, 4 KB): GPS Points for Poker Jim Ridge Hike
Download (PDF, 605 KB): Road Map for Poker Jim Ridge Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Poker Jim Ridge Hike
From the small parking area at road’s end, follow the conspicuous trail leading north, which then skirts the west side of Petroglyph Lake. Look for petroglyphs here on the low basalt rim west of the lake (please don’t touch them!). The route then strikes off cross-country for the prominent juniper-covered ridge to the northeast. Look for small groups of antelope and mule deer in this stretch. After walking about 0.6 miles north across a treeless plain, one comes to the first scattered juniper trees (GPS Point 2) and begins the gradual 0.4 mile ascent to the most obvious high point on the northern horizon (Promontory 6049 at GPS Point 3).

Once at the top of Promontory 6049, enjoy the panoramic views west over the Warner Valley wetlands and pothole lakes. Also note the striking hexagonal-shaped tops to the columnar basalt here. The route is then cross-country to the east and north along Poker Jim Ridge, through the low sage and scattered junipers just behind the rim’s edge. With binoculars, one can scan for bighorn sheep on the ridge ahead and in the rocks below the rim. To the east are long views of the Steens Mtn. range, the Catlow Rim and Pueblo Mtns. The route along the rim gradually climbs about 250’ over the next 1.7 miles, until it reaches a broad, open high point (Promontory 6315 at GPS Point 4) — which makes a good lunch and hike destination. Return as you came.

Road to Trailhead
From the headquarters of the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, drive about 0.8 miles northwest on the main refuge road to a dirt road on the northeast. There may be a small sign here to Petroglyph Lake. If it's dry and hard, turn onto this dirt road and follow it for about 1.5 miles to a small parking area and a “Road Closed” sign. When dry, the first mile of this dirt road is passable by any passenger car. However, the last half mile gets rocky and rough, so unless you have a high clearance vehicle, you may want to park at some point (taking care not to block the roadway) and walk this last section.

Camping Options
The nearest developed campground is the Hot Springs Campground on the refuge itself, about 6 driving miles south from the trailhead and about 4 miles south of the Refuge Headquarters. It has 30 free sites of various sizes, from small tents to large RVs, plus a vault toilet and an enclosed public hot springs. There is no drinking water at this campground, but it can be obtained at the Refuge Headquarters. The campground has a camp host in the summer and is managed by the USF&WS.

The next nearest developed campground is Camp Hart Mountain, an old CCC camp located in the Warner Valley about 10 driving miles southwest from the trailhead and about 15 miles north of Plush on the paved road to the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge (Road 3-12). This campground has 9 free campsites that will accommodate any size camping rig, vault toilets and drinking water. It has a camp host during the summer and is also managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Agency Contact: Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, (541) 947-2731 or (541) 947-3315

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