The head of Jack Creek is a fascinating place. The creek gushes out of a hillside, creating a riparian oasis of moss and bracken ferns shaded by old-growth ponderosas and firs -- and all this in the heart of Central Oregon.
To reach Jack Creek’s headwaters from Sheep Springs Horse Camp, you’ll ride a combination of single-track trails and forest roads through beautiful open ponderosa pine forest. It’s a fun ride to a very special spot. Parts of the route are unsigned, though, so it’s a good idea to carry (and know how to use) a map and GPS or compass.
Elevation: 3,000 to 3,200 feet
Distance: 11 miles round trip
From Sheep Springs Horse Camp, you’ll pick up the Metolius-Windigo Trail heading south. It runs beside Roaring Creek, then beside Canyon Creek after the two creeks merge. About 0.4 mile after the trail crosses Road 1260 you’ll pass a couple of dispersed campsites, leave the Met-Win Trail, and ford Canyon Creek.
On the other side of the creek, go almost straight ahead on Road 200 and follow it 1.2 miles. When you start seeing the dense greenery that flanks Jack Creek on your left, veer left and ride cross-country for about 100 feet, then turn right on the unofficial trail that parallels the creek.
This trail takes you across Road 1230 and past Jack Creek Campground. At the far end of the campground, you’ll reach the Head of Jack Creek Trailhead. Follow the Head of Jack Creek Trail until it ends at the beautiful headwaters.
The camping facilities at Sheep Springs are delightful. All eleven sites have 4-horse corrals, picnic tables, and fire pits. The camp has a vault toilet, manure bins, garbage cans, and a camp host. There’s a fee for overnight camping. Free day-use parking is available at an unsigned turnout 0.3 mile from the horse camp.
Getting to Sheep Springs Horse Camp
From Sisters, drive northwest on Hwy. 20 for 12 miles. Turn right on Jack Lake Road (Road 12) and continue for 6.8 miles, then turn left on Road 1260. Drive about 1.0 mile, turn right on Road 200, and continue another 1.4 miles to the horse camp. The route is well signed. Day riders can park in an unofficial turnout along Road 200, on the left about 0.3 mile before the horse camp.
You’ll find more information about the Head of Jack Creek Trail and other trails out of Sheep Springs Horse Camp in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2018), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.