Lake Billy Chinook in Culver, Oregon Has Nice Hikes

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Bend Premier Real Estate 200009031

Many Central Oregonians will spend time during the summer at Lake Billy Chinook enjoying the houseboats and recreational opportunities available at The Cove Palisades State Park. However, hiking during the summer can be very uncomfortable with high temperatures in the area the norm. But in mid December, the cool temperatures can make for a nice hiking experience when a lot of exertion is needed.

Balancing Rocks is a Geological Formation to View Overlooking the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook

Not really a hike (1/2 a mile round trip), the Balancing Rocks (called hoodoos) can be located by driving all the way through the park past the airport toward the Perry South Campground. When forest service road 64 turns into a dirt road, travel just a short distance until you find the parking lot for the short walk to Balancing Rocks. The rocks were formed when a layer of harder volcanic rock flowed over a softer layer of volcanic rock.  Over many thousands of years, the underlying softer rock has eroded at a faster rate than the overlying harder rock, thus forming the balancing rocks we see today. This is worth the extra drive to see such an unusual geological formation.

Tam-a-lau Trailhead is at the Day Use Area of the Cove Palisades State Park 

Tam-a-lau TrailThe trail to the top of the plateau between the Deschutes and Crooked River arms of Lake Billy Chinook has a very steep 800 foot elevation gain the first mile. Wooden stairs are built into some tough sections, but we found other areas to be slippery and later muddy as the frozen ground melted once the temperature rose above freezing later in the day. After reaching the top of the plateau, the level 4.5 mile loop around the hilltop provides for wonderful views of the lake and we were fortunate to see a soaring red-tailed hawk during this trek.  In certain sections, the trail goes very close to the edge of the plateau and we recommend staying a safe distance from the edge as the drop is very steep and dangerous in some areas.

We have read that the Tam-a-lau trail can be very hot and uncomfortable during the summer and is best done either very early or late in the day when the temperatures are cooler. For our hike mid December, layers were best with us getting quite warm in the first mile, but cooling off a lot during the loop hike at the top of the plateau. We saw just a few people during the entire hike.  Original blog can be read at Bend Premier Real Estate's website.

Tam-a-lau Trail Tam-a-lau Trail
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing your experience and your photographs.

Enjoy your future hikes.

Dec 17, 2020 05:33 PM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR

Morning Lynnea.

While my walks are no where as long as yours, I do enjoy the photos you provide.  Sadly, at my age I won't be able to explore like you do

Dec 18, 2020 12:46 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Such a beautiful area that is and I hope that I will get a chance to do some hikes in that area before the end of my days.

Dec 18, 2020 05:10 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Lynnea Miller I had some clients move to Sisters almost 30 years ago and they loved the communities there. Looks like a wonderful area for hiking as well!

Dec 18, 2020 09:05 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Thank you for sharing a little bit of central and eastern Oregon with us and all it has to offer in the way of recreation 🎅

Happy Sunday morning Lynnea Miller 

Dec 20, 2020 06:04 AM