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Friday, July 24, 2015

Whitefish Horse Camp, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Some friends of mine have started an annual group trip to Whitefish Horse Camp. Last year I couldn't make it but this year I was able to fit it in. I had been there before about 5 years ago but there a lot of trails, and I certainly hadn't seen the whole area yet. If you like lakes, and lots of easy trail options then this is the place to go.

Diamond Peak from Diamond View Lake.

I got there pretty early in the morning before most everyone else in my group had arrived, and as I drove through camp I saw there was still someone in my reserved spot. Reservations are usually a good idea for this popular place, especially on weekends. Check out time wasn't until 2:00 pm so I proceeded to try to find somewhere else to park in the meantime. (There is no day use area.) The people in my spot who were from the Yakima area came over to talk to me, and mentioned they wanted to spend another night. So knowing that we had cancellations within our group I moved into another site which was nicer than the one I would have had originally, so that worked out well. When the Hoodoo guy came through later in the day to collect everyone's money, he didn't care about the swap, but I mention all of this because a lot of spots ended up being empty the whole time we were there, although online it deceivingly appeared that the camp was booked solid.

Whitefish Horse Camp.

I got tacked up and got onto Whitefish Creek Trail which takes you to a really good view of Diamond Peak. I was going to do a loop, but I noticed that the trail continued on to Odell Lake from there, so I got distracted from my original plan and went that way instead. When I got about halfway I came upon Trapper Creek, and then the trail popped me out at some railroad tracks, and I was suddenly back in civilization, at the Shelter Cove Resort and Marina and the Kokanee Lodge. This is an out and back ride which is just over 20 miles.

Diamond Peak.

Odell Lake.

Lunch at the tracks by Odell Lake.

Trapper Creek Trail at Odell Lake.

Back in camp I said hello to my friends who had arrived in my absence, and a plan was made for riding the following day.

Whitefish is located close to the town of Crescent about 65 miles south of Bend OR. It has 17 sites, toilets, garbage, a manure bin with wheelbarrows, and potable water from spigots. The sites have either 2 or 4 horse steel corrals. They are $14.00 and $18.00 per night respectively. Crescent Lake is directly across the street within walking distance. The Pacific Crest Trail is accessible from here as well as the Metolious Windigo Trail which runs right through camp.

Crescent Lake.

The view from Crescent lake.

Six of us started out the next day to ride to Snell Lake, but we had to make a detour and ride along the road for awhile to get back over to the Met Win since the bridge was out and we were not able to cross there. Update: The bridge is still out as of Sept. 2016. The remains of the bridge have been removed and people have been riding down the bank into the creek, but some friends of mine that camped there recently, reported that it may not be the best option for a green horse, since there is a large rock to step over before getting into the creek.

Bridge is out on the Met Win.

Riding up Rd. 6010 with Lori directly behind me on Bella.

We rode up dirt road 6010 until we got to the Snell Lake Trail and then continued on for awhile towards Effie Lake. Since I had planned a much longer ride than anyone else in the group wanted to do that day, I bid them all adieu and rode over to the trail to Meek Lake. This took me on a 18 ish mile loop past about a million other lakes, ( no kidding, there is another lake about every couple of minutes) until I reached Summit Lake. Summit is huge, but pretty quiet, since access is only by 4x4 or high clearance vehicles, so no boats, or very many people are usually there.

Meek Lake Trailhead.

Meek lake.

Although there was some trail clearing that had happened the weekend before we arrived, most of the trails I rode were not cleared, although most of it was not extremely bad, and I did not ever have to turn around. Also mosquito's were at a minimum, just a few here and there, but this may not be normal, since this has been such a dry year.

Lots of forest in between the lakes.

Summit Lake.

Summit Lake.

The next day I went out to Oldenburg Lake, passing Bingham Lakes, Darlene Lake, Suzanne Lake, which was my favorite, and then Windy Lakes. This was another loop of about 16 miles.

Darlene Lake.

Suzanne Lake, it's pretty deep and has some rocks for jumping off of.

Found this at Suzanne Lake.

 There is another large loop that can be done towards Fawn Lake, Pretty Lake and Stag Lake which I had done on my last visit, as well as some other trails to explore, making this a particularly good camp for any type of rider. Lots of options for long distance, but also a lot of easy out and backs for people that want shorter rides.


  1. There is no address...if you Google it, it will come up and you can get directions from the forest service website or Reserve America.

  2. Holly,
    What if I told you that Suzanne was my grandma and that I made that sign!!! :-)

  3. Awwww....I love that! Such a beautiful lake and a lovely tribute. :)

    1. It meant the world to me that you shared that picture! She was an AMAZING woman hands down. We hiked that sign up in fall of 2009. And you know what's even more amazing? You posted that blog on what would have been her birthday! Thank you for sharing and for making our day. She would love to know you enjoyed her lake so much!

    2. My great grandpa named those lakes, he discovered them when he was packing mules up to stock lakes with fish. The other lake, Darlene lake is my grandmas sister. :-)

    3. What could be better than having a lake named after you. Seeing the sign of course I knew there was a story behind it, but when is it every likely that I would eventually find out what it is...It would have been so cool to discover those.... all I can do is rediscover and enjoy them.:)

    4. Absolutely! So glad my dad found your blog so I could connect with you! And so glad you were able to enjoy the lakes and the memories. :-) God Bless!

  4. Holly,
    Do you happen to know what site number is pictured here? I am going next weekend and it will be my first time hauling my LQ. I was just wondering if they were all at that angle for easy backing!

    1. Good question! I actually just took a picture at the entrance to the camp so that was probably five or six. I camped in spot number nine which was plenty big enough. Most of the spots can accommodate a larger rag. There are only a couple that are kind of small. Have fun!

  5. Is there cell signal in camp? We are headed up soon but have to leave some horses at home. It's good to know our critter sitter can get in touch with us if she has a problem at home. Thanks