When you ride from Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp to Tam McArthur Rim, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views from the edge of this impressive volcanic cliff. You’ll see Three Creek Lake 1,200 feet below you, plus the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood. Wow!
When we rode the trail recently, the air was hazy with smoke from forest fires in Southern Oregon, but the views were still stupendous.
Elevation: 6,400 to 7,750 feet
Distance: 16.5 miles round trip
Horses and hikers used to share a short, steep, rocky, and crowded trail to Tam McArthur Rim. It wasn’t ideal, and in some places, it could be downright scary if you and your horse met oncoming hikers at a blind corner. To alleviate the problem, a few years ago the Forest Service created a new trail specifically for horses. It’s quite a bit longer than the hiker trail, but the forest it travels through is quite varied, and the views at the top are superb.
You’ll start at the Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp day-use area and ride the Metolius-Windigo Trail southbound, then pick up the Tam Rim Horse Trail and continue to a junction with the hiker trail, which you’ll follow to reach the Rim. Tie your horses away from the cliff edge and walk around to enjoy the views. (When you see a sign indicating where horses should go, believe it. The alternative trail is too close to the cliff edge to be safe.)
You can camp at Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp, which offers 4-horse corrals, stock water troughs, a vault toilet, and garbage cans. Learn more about the horse camp at https://nwhorsetrails.com/blogs/central-oregon-horse-trails/three-creek-meadow-horse-camp. You can reserve a site at Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp at www.recreation.gov. Day-use parking is free.
Getting To Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp
From Sisters, turn south on Elm Street, which becomes Three Creek Road/Road 16. Drive 15 miles to the campground. Skip the first entrance, which leads to the family campsites. Instead, drive 0.2 mile farther and turn right into the campground’s equestrian entrance.
You’ll find more information about the Tam McArthur Rim Horse Trail and other trails near Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2018), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.