Steelhead Falls

Steelhead Falls

  • Easy (to Steelhead Falls)
  • 1 mile round trip
  • 120 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Moderate (to gray tower)
  • 4.1-mile loop
  • 680 feet elevation gain

The Deschutes River plunges 20 feet to a churning pool in this scenic rimrock canyon. Golden eagles soar overhead.

Although this is a wilderness study area—and it’s true that you won’t see houses from the trail—the canyon is in fact tucked behind the subdivisions of Central Oregon’s sprawling Crooked River Ranch. As a result the falls has become a popular party site for young daredevils who leap into the pool on warm days. The loop trail that climbs to Cascade views beyond the falls is dusty because it’s popular with equestrians from the area’s ranchettes, and someday may be closed or rerouted.

To find the trailhead you’ll have to …

The trail begins by a …

An old fish ladder channel beside the falls once allowed salmon to negotiate the cascade, but fish are now blocked by dams downstream. People who have jumped feet-first off the viewpoint’s 25-foot-tall cliff report that the water is cold and the steep climbing route back up from the pool is very rough. The dangerous stunt is not recommended.

If you’d like a longer hike …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.