“Fill your water at Sand Spring and set out for high desert and big sky.”
— Renee Patrick
Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
**Please read and understand this disclaimer before hiking on the Oregon Desert Trail.
From Sand Spring, the ODT follows some short cross-country sections but mostly two-track roads to Lavacicle Cave and Aspen Flat and by several buttes. Cattle are grazed in portions of this section, and there were several cattle guzzler troughs found during the inventory, however, none that had reliable water. Several buttes dot the landscape here, and some have their red cinder interiors exposed by mining pits.
Aside from the buttes, the terrain is fairly flat, with soils ranging from white pumice to red pumice, to dusty/sandy. Lavacicle Cave has a small, gated-closed entrance. This section is doable year-round. There is minimal elevation gain/loss and the two-track roads used are mostly easy to follow. The cross-country portions are straight forward. One could mountain bike this section by easily, replacing the cross-country stretches with nearby two-track roads.
Need to Know
This is an abbreviated description and only includes references to a few key waypoints (also shown on the map). Section mileages shown here may differ slightly from the ODT guidebook. A full description of the route can be found in the Oregon Desert Trail Guidebook
For more info and to download ALL of the waypoints for the ODT, visit ONDA.org
Treat the water and fill all your water containers at Sand Spring, (the FS recommends treating all water on the Deschutes National Forest) because beyond Sand Spring there are no reliable sources until Peters Creek OHV Campground 32 miles further. This section combines a series of cross-country and 2-track road sections.
Treat the water and fill all your water containers at Sand Spring, because there are no reliable water sources until Peters Creek OHV Campground at the end of the next section. At Sand Spring (CV052) the ODT heads south on the maintained road, and at a junction (CV055) take a left turn onto a primitive road. Pass by unreliable Plot Butte Waterhole (CV056) and take a right onto another primative road (CV057) (cattle guzzler .2 east of here) and another at CV058, near the northwest side of Plot Butte.
The ODT stays on the road running south along the west base of Plot Butte and hits a barbed wire fence gate at CV059 (cattle guzzler about 100 feet back). These guzzlers may have rainwater in them but are not reliable water sources. After crossing through the gate, the ODT continues south on the two-track until it forks. Here the ODT takes the left fork (southeast) and merges with another two-track road (FS 2315-100), continuing southeast. The trail passes another guzzler at CV063 and crosses through a barbed wire gate, and shortly the ODT arrives at the junction with FS Road 2315. Here the trail follows this well-traveled, cinder road east to a junction at the north edge of Watkins Flat and takes the right (south) fork that curves around the northwest edge of the Flat.
The ODT stays on the red cinder road at the next junction (CV070), and continues through intermittent pine forest to CV073 where it takes the right fork onto another dirt road. At CV074 the ODT hits an intersection with red-cindered FS Road 2320 -- to the east is a hill called “The Pyramid” and to the southwest is Aspen Butte. The ODT crosses 2320 onto a dirt road (FS 2315-800) and heads south. At a fork (CV075) the ODT takes the left two-track (southeast) fork, and follows this to a fenced-in aspen grove on the right, then continues on the increasingly grown-over two-track road.
While these groves make great spots for camping, no natural surface water was found during inventory. (Hikers wanting to visit Squaw Butte Well can turn left on the road at this junction and head cross country towards the well just east of West Reservoir) From the road’s end at the second grove. The ODT continues on a two-track road (CV078), then turns south and climbs to a saddle and barbed wire fence at the northwest side of Squaw Butte (this saddle marks the boundary of Forest Service land to the north and BLM land to the south).
The ODT continues southwest on this two-track road through pine forest to a junction with another road (CV080), and turns left (southeast) on this road (FS 2315-820). As the road drops in elevation, it passes through a barbed wire fence gate and continues around the east base of Squaw Mountain, merging with another two-track road. About a half mile after this road merge, the ODT turns left (south) at a fork in the road and comes to a junction with a well-traveled dirt road just west of South Reservoir. South Reservoir itself (CV085) is an unreliable muddy, cow-water hole in the ground. There is a water tank and a couple open water troughs (CV086) about a mile and a half to the northeast on the two-track road that passes South Reservoir. If the pump is running, there may be water in these troughs.