Chuckle Springs

  • Easy (to Chuckle Springs)
  • 3.3-mile loop
  • 200 feet elevation gain
  • Open April through December
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Difficult (entire Middle Fork Trail)
  • 33.1 miles one way
  • 4000 feet elevation gain
  • Open June through November

Where does the mighty Willamette River start? The Middle Fork Trail answers that question by following the river’s main stem 33.1 miles up a remote Cascade Range canyon. Trek the entire trail if you like, but for an easy day hike take a shortcut to the most spectacular of the river’s secret sources—a cluster of massive springs in an old-growth forest.

Start by driving . . .

. . .

Farther upstream, near Sacandaga Campground, the Middle Fork Trail follows the route of the Oregon Central Military Wagon Road, built 1865-66 to connect Western and Eastern Oregon. Beyond Chuckle Springs, the Middle Fork Trail steepens as it climbs to Timpanogas Lake, the official source of the Willamette. From there, trails described in Hike #100 lead onward to the Pacific Crest Trail and Indigo Lake.

This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.