Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Paulina Creek, Central Oregon

We sat on a log ten yards from Paulina Creek, munching on an apple, about 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead. Warm sunlight filtered through the ponderosa pine branches. The rippling creek provided the background music for our dining pleasure.

Ahead of us, we would soon find out, the creek changed from its placid flow to twist and foam through its rock-strewn bed and just a bit farther, drop in a fifteen foot waterfall. Day and night, the water pounds over the rocks, rushing downward from Paulina Lake to the Little Deschutes River, then to the Deschutes, then to the Columbia and finally, to the ocean.

Along side the creek, in addition to the ponderosa are mixed lodgepole pine, bitterbrush and manzanita. We spotted golden mantled squirrels (which look like chipmunks but lack the facial striping) skittering across the dusty path.

Bird life is also interesting here because of the oasis-like quality of the creek. Our favorites were the red crossbills, but we also spotted mountain chickadees, kinglets, red-breasted nuthatch, juncos, robins, varied thrush and one red tail hawk soaring overhead.

To reach the trailhead, drive south from Bend on Highway 97. Near milepost 161, look for a sign directing you to Newberry Caldera. After turning left, drive 2.8 miles to another left turn onto a gravel road for the Odgen Group Camp. Follow the road to the right at a "trailhead" sign to a large gravel parking area signed for the Peter Skene Ogden trailhead. The trail follows the creek upstream with around 500 foot elevation gain in the first three miles. If you have plenty of energy and time (we didn't) you can walk this trail all the way to Paulina Lake!

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