You’ll find a lot to enjoy at Sheep Springs Horse Camp, the equestrian gateway to the beautiful Metolius Basin. The camp, located about 15 miles northwest of Sisters, OR, offers easy-to-moderate riding and impressive views. Here are the nine biggest reasons I love Sheep Springs:
One: The Terrain
The Metolius Basin is like a big park, with ponderosa pines shading the grasses and wildflowers beneath. The Metolius River and numerous creeks flow through the basin.
Two: Camp Loops
You can ride several short loops from the horse camp using the old dirt roads that lace the area. Or, you can link the loops to create a longer ride. All the rides showcase the beautiful forest, and one loop offers an impressive view of Mt. Jefferson.
Three: Bear Valley
You can ride the Metolius-Windigo Trail from Sheep Springs to the Bear Valley Trailhead. From there, the Rockpile Lake Trail heads into the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, where it intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail at Rockpile Lake. Along the way, you’ll enjoy views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack.
If you opt to continue into the Wilderness, be sure to call the Forest Service before you go to make sure the Rockpile Lake Trail has been cleared of fallen logs.
Four: Camp Sherman
You can follow the Metolius-Windigo Trail south to the tiny resort town of Camp Sherman, a rather long but easy ride with little elevation change. If you go, be sure to stop at the Camp Sherman Store to get a burger, ice cream, or a beer at the midpoint of your ride.
Five: Brush Creek Loop
This fun 6-mile loop parallels Brush Creek then loops back on the Metolius-Windigo Trail beside Canyon Creek and Roaring Creek. Fun and easy!
Six: Metolius River Loop
This delightful 9.5-mile ride extends the Brush Creek Loop above and takes you to a pleasant lunch spot on the shore of the Metolius River.
Seven: Shovel Loop
You can ride a combination of the Metolius-Windigo Trail and several forest roads for a fun loop through beautiful forests and a meadow with an impressive view of Mt. Jefferson.
Eight: Head of Jack Creek
Jack Creek gushes out of a rocky hillside, forming a good-size creek within 100 feet of the springs. It’s an eleven-mile ride round trip to the Head of Jack Creek using a combination of trails and forest roads. The area around the spring is so green and lush that you’ll swear fairies make their homes amid the verdant vegetation.
Nine: The Camping
The final reason to love Sheep Springs is the camping facilities. It offers 11 sites with 4-horse log corrals, fire pits, and picnic tables. Most sites have room for two trailers. The camp offers a vault toilet, manure bin, potable water from a hand pump, and a friendly camp host. Reservations are recommended (www.recreation.gov).