The Rimrock Springs Trail Hike is located 8.5 miles Southeast of Madras toward Prineville on Hwy 26.
*RATED: EASY / Wheelchair-Accessible / Kid-Friendly / Pet-Friendly / No Water available / 1/2 mile paved; 1.35 mile paved/gravel loop
Rimrock Springs - Rimrock Springs Wildlife Management Area ~ From the junction of Prineville Hwy 26 and Hwy 97 just south of Madras, head southeast from Madras toward Prineville until you pass milepost 8. About 1/2 mile past, on your left will be a huge pile of reddish rocks along the highway. The entrance to Rimrock Springs is right before and after the rocks.
Right by the parking area is a picnic table for lunching. The trailhead is well-marked and is wheelchair-accessible with a paved, smooth path that goes in a fairly straight line 1/2 mile down to a viewing-platform.
It is a wide path, a gentle descent and an easy hike for all ages. Along the way, you will see interpretive signs about wildlife and plants of the high desert, as well as the typical high desert scenery that Central Oregon is famous for. There are benches along the way for resting spots.
You can expect to see varieties of high desert sagebrush, rabbit brush, bunch grass... and in different times of the year, lizards on a rock in the hot sun, mountain quail, red-wing blackbirds around the marsh, and other waterfowl. Deer abound, as well as coyotes, and possibly a snake or two, so be watchful! This is, after all, Central Oregon. Sagebrush has a really pretty light-teal color in late-summer and fall.
The viewing platform overlooks a marshy area, with cattails and waterfowl. The sagebrush down here are particularly lush, colorful and beautiful. The actual marsh area is fenced off, but you can get close.
There were still some bright wildflowers blooming down by the water, even though it is Fall. These pretty spots of color are growing up through the sagebrush, in a very artistic setting.
The second viewing platform is just a little ways up to the right on the graveled path. The loop continues on the graveled path up to the top of a hill for a great shot of the mountains, which I will get to in a minute....
But, this shot of the sagebrush from the second platform is worth mention. I love these graceful sagebrush in the late summer because of their fairly beautiful, intense blues. These, growing by the marsh, are particularly lovely even now, lush and colorful, standing out among the bright yellows and browns of the Fall Marsh and fall grass. They looked like they had been paint-daubed onto a canvas.
These viewing platforms are very private and peaceful. You can feel slight fall breezes of wonderful, fresh air along with the chirp of the different bird species that live in the marsh. This is a fairly off-the-beaten-path hike, so you won't meet many other hikers while you enjoy the quiet beauty of the high desert.
Going up the hill on the graveled path, you can see some old sagebrush winding here and there. We went in the late-afternoon, so I caught a few pics of the reddish, evening sun on our way back on the loop.
From the top of the hill on the view loop, you can go out onto some large rocks for a nice wide view of the Cascades. It was especially impressive as the sun went down....
All in all, this was a really nice, get-out-in-the-desert hike. Quiet and peaceful, fresh air, relaxing and a good break from a drive or just a nice, short hike for some exercise.
~ Photog/Hiker-extraordinaire, Shannon
~ Daytrip Hike in the High Desert of Central Oregon