Sugar Creek campground in the Ochoco National Forest is Paulina Ranger District’s most developed recreation site. It offers a half mile loop trail along Sugar Creek. Nearby an old growth stand provides shelter for many wildlife species, including a Bald Eagle winter roost site. Due to the presence of bald eagles there may be seasonal closures on land access in the area so be sure to check posted notices. Campground and Day Use area is closed seasonally Dec. 1 to May 1.
Walton Lake is a blue sparkling jewel hidden within the dense forest. Walton Lake Campground may be the best-known location in the Ochoco National Forest, offering a serene setting among old-growth Ponderosa pine and mountain meadows. Most sites offer sweeping lake views.
Aspen and tall willows add habitat diversity to make this place especially attractive to wildlife. Visitors can choose to spend their vacation relaxing by fishing on the shore of Walton Lake, or swimming and paddling in the water. There is a swimming beach, fishing pier and boat ramp, and the lake is stocked with rainbow trout and catfish. There are also many trails nearby for those who would like to explore on foot or mountain bike. This includes the 7.5-mile multi-use Round Mountain Trail as well as the 1-mile Walton Lake Trail, which offers many scenic views around the lake.
The Ochoco Divide Group Site is a convenient place to camp while traveling across scenic State Highway 26 by bicycle or car. Resting at the top of the Ochoco Divide at an elevation of 4,700 ft., the group site is set on a hill away from the road as an extension of the general campground. Summertime in the Ochoco National Forest brings pleasant temperatures.
The scenery surrounding the campground alternates between thick Ponderosa pine forests and grassy meadows, though shortly beyond the campground the road descends into lower-elevation, arid canyon lands. One of the most unique geologic features of the Ochoco National Forest is the ‘thunder egg,’ Oregon’s official state rock. Thunder eggs are small, colorful, round volcanic rocks similar to geodes that have been exposed over time. The U.S. Forest Service has designated specific sites for rock hounding.
The group site of the Ochoco Divide Campground is mainly used by touring cyclists. It is also a good place to take a relaxing stroll through the woods. There are opportunities for hunting, mountain biking and hiking in the national forest surrounding the facility. Several trailheads begin at the Bandit Springs rest stop about one mile from the campground on Highway 26.
Cottonwood Canyon State Park is rugged and vast, from the vertical cliffs carved by the John Day River to deep side canyons and arid, rocky grasslands that extend for miles in all directions. The park’s 8,000-plus acres are open for exploring, stargazing and contemplating the elemental forces that carved this unique landscape.
The Pinnacles Trail and the Lost Corral Trail, each 4.3 miles one way, follow either side of the John Day River downstream. The Lost Corral Trail, leaving from JS Burres, is open to both hikers, bikers and equestrians. The Pinnacles Trail, leaving from the end of the campground, is open to bikers and hikers.
Upstream, the Hard Stone Trail travels 1.5 miles one way and open to foot traffic only. Or, you can strike out on your own along old, unmaintained ranching roads that lead into the back country. The J.S. Burres day-use area is a popular boat launch for rafts, kayaks, canoes and drift boats.
If you’re an angler, the John Day River has steelhead, catfish, carp and smallmouth bass. As an added bonus, there’s another 10,000 acres of public land surrounding the park managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The Deep Creek Campground offers rustic camping in a large ponderosa pine and cottonwood setting. The campground is a spur with a loop in a stand of scattered fragrant Ponderosa pine on Deep Creek and near the Wild and Scenic North Fork Crooked River. While the water is not visible from the campground, it can be heard at some sites.
Located among large ponderosa pine trees and across the Crooked River from some beautiful Western larch trees, the setting of this campground is serene. Wildflowers are abundant in spring and early summer. Accommodations include four tent and trailer sites, two secluded tent sites along the creek, picnic tables and fire grates, and an outhouse.
Activities include fishing, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and wading. In addition, visitors may enjoy hiking on the Crane Mt. National Recreation Trail, located 10 miles to the west and accessed at the Rogger Meadow trailhead (end of the pavement on Forest Road 3915).
There are no official hiking trails in the immediate vicinity of the campground, but people can choose to hike the nearby spur roads to experience some additional scenery. Fishing in the river can be good depending on when you choose to visit. Expect this campground to fill up during hunting season and holidays
This is bear country; practice safe food storage techniques.
The Antelope Flat Campground is located just above the day-use area and boat ramp for Antelope Flat Reservoir, and is situated among large ponderosa pines which provide a quiet and scenic setting for forest visitors. Only a few campsites provide views of the reservoir, but the walk from the campground to the water’s edge takes most people less than 10 minutes. Potable drinking water is available near the south end of the campground from a standing hand pump; however there are no hook-ups available on site.
This pack it in/pack it out campground is a single loop in a stand of Ponderosa pine and juniper above Antelope Reservoir. None of the sites have a clear view of the water. While the campground has grass and sagebrush understory, close sites and minimal middlestory provide poor privacy. Most sites tend to be sunny with lots of space for additional tents.
The day-use area is located right on the water’s edge and is outfitted with picnic tables, fire rings, a vault bathroom, and a boat ramp. If you keep a keen eye out and a pair of binoculars on hand, large birds of prey can occasionally be seen from the day-use area nesting on the east side of the reservoir.