Stonehouse Rim Hike

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 6.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 810’
Trailhead Elevation: 6,520’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: 4-wheel drive vehicle,
     after upper access road is snow-free

Plus Points
• A cross-country hike along a 7,000'-high rim with panoramic views of the Alvord Basin
• This part of the rim is within the Lower Stonehouse Wilderness Study Area
• Wildflowers at their peak by mid-July, including bush lupine, paintbrush and asters
• Many raptors seen soaring along the rim, including red-tails, harriers and kestrels
• Large herds of antelope on the sage steppe and bunchgrass flats behind the rim
• Solitude is almost guaranteed in this rarely-visited spot

Minus Points
• Steep, rocky access road up Stonehouse Canyon requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle
• No trail, but hiking is easy through the low sage scrub along the rim
• Afternoon thunderstorms can present a lightning hazard along the rim

Download (PDF, 516 KB): Photos of Stonehouse Rim Hike
Download (PDF, 769 KB): Topo Map for Stonehouse Rim Hike
Download (GPX, 4 KB): GPS Points for Stonehouse Rim Hike
Download (PDF, 772 KB): Road Map for Stonehouse Rim Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Stonehouse Rim Hike
The hike starts at a yellow cattle guard on the Lower Stonehouse Road (GPS Point 1) and follows an abandoned jeep road branching off to the left (south). After a few hundred yards, one can see two rock cairns at a high point on the rim to the southeast. The route is then cross-country and uphill over the low sage scrub to these two cairns, 0.6 miles away (GPS Point 2). These twin cairns were presumably built by Basque sheepherders tending their flocks here in the early 1900s. From this first viewpoint, one has sweeping vistas northeast, back over Stonehouse Canyon, to Juniper and Tencent Lakes at the north end of the Alvord Valley and southeast to the Mickey Basin.

From these twin cairns, the route follows the rim south to other viewpoints and overlooks. The easiest walking is over the low sage scrub and bunchgrass below the rock fields right at the edge of the rim, but above the large sagebrush further downhill.

About 2.2 miles south along the rim from the twin cairns, one comes to a high point (Promontory 7327 at GPS Point 3) where there are great views south to Mann Lake, the Alvord Desert and the snow-capped High Steens. This makes a good lunch and hike destination. When ready to return, the easiest route is away from the rim to the northwest, through the sage scrub to a stock pond about 0.8 miles away (GPS Point 4). Look for large herds of antelope in this section. Once at the stock pond, follow the swale below it downhill until you intersect the north-south jeep road running through Paddle Meadows. From here, it's an easy 2.2-mile walk north along this jeep road back to the trailhead.

Road to Trailhead
On the East Steens Road, drive about 6.9 miles north of the Mann Lake Recreation Area and look for a dirt road on the west. If dry and hard, drive west on this road for 0.5 miles, across private land (public road easement), to a wire gate at the BLM boundary. Leave this gate exactly as you find it (closed if closed, open if open). Continue up Stonehouse Canyon Road for another 3.3 miles to the first road junction, just below the top of the rim. Bear left at this junction and drive about 0.7 miles south to a yellow cattle guard at a second road junction. Park near this cattle guard, taking care not to block the road. From the East Steens Road, the drive takes about an hour.

Be forewarned: The road up Stonehouse Canyon is a steep, rocky track, climbing over 2,400' in 4.5 miles — and is
passable ONLY by 4-wheel drive vehicles. 4-wheel drive is only needed in a few short steep sections, where the road surface is loose rock, but you won’t make it to the rim without it. In the first mile, the roadbed is the worst, with deeply eroded ruts and exposed rocks. Higher up in the canyon, the road narrows and becomes much steeper, but the road surface itself actually improves as one ascends the canyon.

Camping Options
The nearest campground is the Mann Lake Recreation Area, managed by the BLM. It is located about 12 driving miles south of the trailhead on the East Steens Road, at the north end of the Alvord Basin. This free recreation site has two camping areas, one on each side of the 200-acre lake, each with its own vault toilet. However, that's about the extent of the amenities as there is no drinking water, no designated campsites and no shade. Also, be sure to tie everything down here, as the desert winds can be ferocious.

Agency Contact: Burns BLM District, (541) 573-4411

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: 1/17/13