The Flat Iron Trail is part of the Badlands Wilderness. A few miles south of Bend, Oregon, off Highway 20, it’s an easy drive. The trail is relatively flat, but be warned, it gets very hot and there isn’t much shade.
There are great views of the Cascades, and in the spring, the desert comes alive with wildflowers. The ancient juniper forest i-s unique, and the entire network of trails is a true taste of the Central Oregon high desert.
A plus to the pleasant scenery is the peace and quiet. The trails aren’t heavily used, and you rarely see another person. It’s nice to spend some time alone with nature.
What’s great about 4-wheel drive? When I see a sign to an offbeat place on a dirt road, I can go see what’s there. That was the case when we saw the sign for Sand Spring.
“Well, let’s go see what’s there,” we said.
Not everything is as it’s advertised, but there was actually a spring there.
An unseen spring trickles water to the fenced pond. Sagebrush shrubland borders the pond, and dry forest surrounds the shrubland. It’s a long way to the next drink, so this site draws wildlife like a magnet.
We saw some wildlife that wasn’t so spry.
There was some interesting landscape around it. The ground was pebbly and white, which is different than the usually sandy dirt in the high desert.
Close up, it was even cooler.
Paulina Peak is located in the Newberry National Volcano Monument. Newberry Volcano is a large active shield volcano, and Paulina Peak is the highest point of the Newberry Volcano.
From the top, I can see forever, or so it seems.
The rest of the caldera can be seen from the top: the two lakes, the center cone, and the gray patch is the obsidian flow.
And sunrise from the peak is transcending.
State Highway 58 is one of my favorite roads to explore in Oregon. It has lots of big, old trees and splendid sights. One of the gems is McCredie Hot Springs along Salt Creek.
There used to be a resort hotel there that became a baseball camp and then a bordello. It burned down in 1958, and there’s litte sign it was ever there. The hot springs are still there, however, the views are stunning.
If you decide to try the hot springs, they can be very hot, so be careful. And, clothing is optional.
The Lost Forest is surrounded by sand dunes and desert. There’s no visible source of water, and the nearest forests that aren’t lost are 40 miles away. These are ancient ponderosa pines in a region of Oregon known as Christmas Valley.
This is a remnant of an ancient forest that covered much of Central Oregon thousands of years ago. Back then, the climate was cooler and wetter. The Lost Forest survives on half the annual rain required for ponderosa pines. This is possible because of the unique soil and hydrologic properties of the area.