There are few places in the Pacific Northwest where an official Wilderness Area is as accessible and horse-friendly as the Diamond Peak Wilderness near Whitefish Horse Camp in Central Oregon.
Whitefish is a wonderful horse camp located near the shore of Crescent Lake, a popular boating and fishing spot off Hwy. 58 south of Eugene and Bend. The camp has 17 sites, all with 2- or 4-horse corrals and potable water spigots next to each campsite.
You can ride a variety of delightful trails from Whitefish Horse Camp. For example:
You can ride the Metolius-Windigo Trail south toward Windigo Pass. (Fun fact: Windigo is the Algonquin name for a cannibalistic giant that has been turned into a monster by consuming human flesh. WooooOOOOOoooo…) Fortunately, this trail isn’t the least bit monstrous, and in fact it goes to several pretty lakes.
You can travel to the Windy Lakes, a string of shallow lakes along the crest of a ridge.
You can explore a scenic lollipop loop to Fawn Lake and its tiny neighbor, Pretty Lake.
You can ride along Whitefish Creek to Diamond View Lake, with its beautiful view of Diamond Peak.
You can travel an old dirt forest road to visit Meek Lake, Snell Lake, and the impressive Summit Lake.
As an added bonus, these out-and-back trails are linked by connector trails that create loops with additional views of lakes and mountains along the way.
Some of the trails are suitable for green horses and inexperienced riders, and none of the trails are very challenging (though some of the loop rides are long). You’ll find that while many of the trails ascend into the Diamond Peak Wilderness, their elevation gain is fairly gradual. You won’t experience any steep drop-offs, shale, or challenging water crossings.
You’ll love the trails out of Whitefish Horse Camp, so make plans now!
Getting There: From Bend, drive south on Hwy. 97 for 45 miles to the town of Crescent. Turn right on Hwy. 61 (the Crescent Cutoff) and go west 12 miles to the junction with Hwy. 58, then turn right and go north for 3.4 miles. From Eugene, take Hwy. 58 to Oakridge and continue another 35 miles. All, turn west on Crescent Lake Hwy. Drive 2 miles, cross the railroad tracks, and immediately turn right on Road 60 (the first paved road on the right). Continue 4.3 miles to the horse camp.
Fees: Fee for overnight camping; no fee for day-use parking at Windy Oldenberg Trailhead or Fawn Lake Trailhead.
Season: May through October
Camping Facilities: 17 sites, all with corrals (fourteen 2-horse and three 4-horse corrals). All of the sites are back-ins, most are level, and all have room for 2 trailers. The camp has potable water spigots next to each campsite, vault toilets, garbage dumpsters, manure bins, picnic tables, and fire rings.
More Information: The trails out of Whitefish Horse Camp are covered in more detail in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2012).