Hiking Metolius Preserve


Last updated 4/2/2024 at 12:57pm

Photo by Scott Bowler

The Deschutes Land Trust's Metolius Preserve is a beauty spot in Sisters Country.

Along Lake Creek, in between Suttle Lake and Metolious River, lies a little-known protected area known as the Metolious Preserve, owned by Deschutes Land Trust. It's an unusual property, with a very diverse species mix along beautiful creeks - making it a great place to go as winter morphs into spring.

Why go?

It's an easy, essentially flat hike with beautiful creeks and diverse plants, with plenty of wildlife. The good trail system criscrosses the creek forks and several different habitats, and runs to the far corners of the oddly shaped protected area. It's perfect for a winter wander in your boots, snowshoes, or XC skis

Two parking areas, accessed from opposite sides, provide access to the various trails. As you explore you will encounter a wide variety of conifer species, including ponderosa and white pines, several true and Douglas firs, incense cedars and larches-among the more diverse tree communities around here. Animals include plenty of birds, elk, deer, bobcat, coyote, porcupine, and possibly cougar, or even our resident wolves. (I've seen tracks of all of these at different times around there.)

When to go:

It's a great spot to visit just about anytime really, and usually possible whatever the weather, as long as your vehicle can get to the trailhead, and you choose the right footwear. The road to the north trailhead is more popular and probably easier to access at this time of the year, but with a higher clearance 4WD you can usually make it into the south trailhead. Spring brings abundant diversity in flowers and birds because of the variety of habitats.

What to expect:

The Preserve is full of wildlife, and not a lot of people. A plus is that the flat aspect and short distances make it great for kids and family exploring. Both trailheads provide access to the whole trail system, and it's fairly short and easy walking. It can be a little confusing, since both trails and streams meander, so best to print the paper map and to download the trails into your mapping app or GPS unit. Look up http://www.deschuteslandtrust.org and search for the map. Dogs are allowed but MUST be under your direct control on a six-foot leash the whole time in order to protect the wildlife who call the place home-and be sure to bag and carry out their poop!

Getting there:

Take US 20 west towards Santiam Pass, and in about 10 miles watch carefully for USFS Road 2064 taking off on the right, which leads to the south trailhead-a warning though that this road is little used and is likely difficult to navigate in deep snow or thawing mud! You can access the north entrance from Suttle Sherman Road, a more well-used and more likely passable option in spring "sloppy" season. Get to Suttle Sherman Road either from US 20 via a right turn on USFS Road 12 and heading west and turning right, or take Camp Sherman Road off US 20 to the east and turning left. The short spur road to the trailhead parking area is about halfway between the two main crossroads.

This is a regular feature The Nugget will run periodically.

If you have a favorite hike or trail, send it along in about 500 words to

[email protected] using the following format, including a photo.

What you'll need:

Photo by Scott Bowler

Spring hiking season is ... arriving.

Footing can be treacherous if icy, and it will be muddy in spots, so take poles or cleats - or maybe snowshoes or even XC skis - so you can take on any conditions. Note that it can get pretty muddy in rain or heavy thaws, so the trails are best avoided then! Don't forget the Ten Essentials, including layers, plenty of snacks and water and/or a filter to drink from the creek. It's closer to the Cascades and the snow will be deeper than in town, so plan and suit up accordingly. Dogs must be leashed in the Preserve, so please follow that rule so that they continue to be welcome.


This is a regular feature The Nugget will run periodically.

If you have a favorite hike or trail, send it along in about 500 words to

[email protected] using the following format, including a photo.


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