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Metolius River Loop

The Metolius River Loop is a beautiful ride that originates at Sheep Springs Horse Camp in sunny Central Oregon. The trail features open ponderosa pine forest, bubbling creeks, and panoramic river views. This fun trail is but one of many good reasons to consider making Sheep Springs a destination for your next summer vacation.

Metolius River Trail, Sheep Springs Horse Camp
On the Metolius-Windigo Trail segment of the Met0lius River Loop.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 9.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 2,900 to 3,250 feet

The River’s Story

Less 4.5 miles away, the Metolius River gushes forth from huge springs at the rate of 50,000 gallons of water per minute. Before the river reaches its intersection with the Metolius River Loop, its flows are bolstered by several good-size creeks. By the time you see it, the river is an impressive 150-200 feet wide and flowing fast.

Metolius River Trail, Sheep Springs Horse Camp
The Metolius River, from the Metolius River Loop.

The Riding

The Metolius River Loop follows the Metolius Windigo Trail, the unsigned Brush Creek Trail, and an unsigned loop that flanks the Metolius River. It may sound complicated, but the route is easy to follow. In addition to beautiful views of the river and its lush riparian vegetation, you’ll ride beside Roaring Creek, Canyon Creek, and Brush Creek.

Metolius River Trail, Sheep Springs Horse Camp
Canyon Creek

The loop offers a variety of sensory delights. You’ll enjoy seeing the creeks and the green vegetation they support, of course. And you’ll savor the views of the mighty Metolius River.

Metolius River Trail, Sheep Springs Horse Camp
Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms beside the trail in season.

In addition, you’ll be treated to the soothing sounds of the creeks flowing over rocks and swirling around fallen logs. Your ride will be shaded by stately ponderosa pine with their thick reddish bark and their distinctive vanilla scent. Seasonal wildflowers are plentiful. And the green grasses and shrubs along the waterways contrast nicely with the tawny grass, sagebrush, and bitterbrush of the more arid stretches above the creeks.

Metolius River Trail, Sheep Springs Horse Camp
Mt. Jefferson from the Brush Creek Trail.

And the Metolius River Loop is only one of several fabulous rides out of Sheep Springs Horse Camp. Don’t miss it!

Getting There

To reach Sheep Springs Horse Camp from Sisters, drive northwest on Hwy. 20 for 12 miles. Turn right on Jack Lake Road (Road 12), and continue 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.

Learn More

You’ll find more information about the Metolius River Loop and other trails near Sheep Springs Horse Camp in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2018), available at

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