With snow falling in the Cascades, it is becoming harder to find places to take a long hike in Central Oregon without snow shoes or cross country skies. Last Saturday we decided to re-hike the 1.4 mile, 500 foot elevation gain Bessie Butte trail located off China Hat and then take the Swamp Wells Trail through the Deschutes National Forest to Kelsey Butte, located roughly 5 miles south of Bessie Butte. The trail, lightly covered with snow, was easy to follow and our research on the hike showed it to be one for mountain bikers as well as hikers. The Swamp Wells Trail, if followed its entire length, eventually will end at Newberry Crater after 20 plus miles with a lot of elevation gain in that final push. During our hike through the woods we saw only one other person, a woman with her dog, but did follow one set of mountain bike tracks for much of the way.
If you enjoy walking in the forest, this is a great place to go. It wasn't until we were half way up Kelsey Butte that we came out of the trees and could view the forest we had walked through along with views of all the buttes around us plus vistas of the Cascades. It was a cloudy day, but I am sure on a clear day there would be views all the way to Mt. Hood. After walking around the base of Kelsey Butte, we returned to our car left at the Bessie Butte Trailhead. All in all, with the quick up and back on Bessie Butte, we estimated our hike was between 11 and 12 miles. Although not having the "wow" views we love so much when we hike in the mountains, this walk through the Deschutes National Forest was very fulfilling and gave us some great exercise after our Christmas meal. And for those who enjoy solitude, you can't beat the lack of crowds.
Original blog can be read at Bend Premier Real Estate's blog page.