“Hey, let’s ride the Broken Top Loop tomorrow,” my friend Lisa said. “I've never been on it, and I've heard it's an awesome trail.” I was glad she suggested it, because the 13-mile Broken Top Loop is one of my all-time favorite rides.
The loop begins and ends at Todd Creek Horse Camp, 25 miles west of Bend. I like to ride it counter-clockwise, so we picked up the Metolius-Windigo Trail on the east side of camp and followed it uphill beneath huge hemlock trees. On this stretch of trail you can expect to see mountain bikes, so keep an eye out.
At the junction with the spur trail to the 380 Road, we turned left and followed the 380 Road to the Broken Top Trail, entering the Three Sisters Wilderness. The trail runs along the base of the volcano's blown-out crater, with its yellow, green, and ochre striations clearly visible in the rock walls above you.
The trail also features good views of Mt. Bachelor to the east, and Sparks Lake and the Cascade Lakes basin to the south. It seems like every time you go around a corner, you encounter something new to delight the eye.
In early summer, the stream banks teem with a spectacular array of wildflowers: moneyflower, Indian paintbrush, goldenrod, daisies, asters, bog orchids, bistort – the list goes on and on.
However, this year we were a bit too late to enjoy the peak of the wildflower bloom. We did see both the crimson and the yellow varieties of Indian paintbrush, plus some bog orchids blooming along the bank of Soda Creek.
Then we followed the Soda Creek and Todd Trails to return to Todd Creek Horse Camp. What a terrific ride!
Todd Creek Horse Camp
The horse camp offers day-use parking, plus seven campsites with 2- or 4-horse corrals, a toilet, and manure bins. Stock water is available from a hand pump and from nearby Todd Creek.
You can learn more about the Broken Top Loop in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.nwhorsetrails.com. Happy Trails!