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home : columns : columns June 29, 2015


7/9/2013 1:27:00 PM
Great views from the Eagle Rock Pass Trail
The summit of Eagle Rock is a scenic forest setting with spectacular views of the area’s surrounding mountains. photo by Craig Eisenbeis
+ click to enlarge
The summit of Eagle Rock is a scenic forest setting with spectacular views of the area’s surrounding mountains. photo by Craig Eisenbeis

Panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains are visible from the summit of Eagle Rock.photo by Craig Eisenbeis
+ click to enlarge
Panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains are visible from the summit of Eagle Rock.photo by Craig Eisenbeis
By Craig Eisenbeis


The Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) has incorporated some interesting features into their trail system surrounding the town of Sisters, and Eagle Rock is one of them. The community trail network takes off from the edge of town and wanders through the area's neighboring woodlands.

Eagle Rock is not a well-known local landmark, despite the fact that it is only a couple of miles from downtown, is easily accessible, and offers spectacular views of the region's surrounding mountains. On a recent sunny weekend, I decided to see for myself who might be taking advantage of this local attraction.

The answer? No one. Complete solitude; it seems that Eagle Rock is even more unknown than I thought!

The Eagle Rock Loop Trail is less than two miles long, or when the separate Pass Trail is added in, a little more than two miles. By leaving from the trailhead at the south edge of town, however, the total distance can be stretched out to about six miles.

The Eagle Rock Loop is reached from the main trails running to or from Peterson Ridge and, like much of the STA system, is easily negotiable on foot or by bicycle. The Eagle Rock Pass Trail, however, is a pretty rough course for bikes and is, in fact, rated for experts only. There are some switchbacks and more than a few rocks to dodge along the trail. I was on foot, however, and didn't have to risk life and limb.

Because of the steep and rocky nature of this climb, Eagle Rock's terrain is less "used" than some of the surrounding woods and has a more remote feel to it, even though a principal Forest Service road is only a stone's throw away.

The rocky top of the pass summit is, by itself, quite scenic; but the mountain views from the top are spectacular. With wildflowers, manzanita, and orange-barked pines, it's a relaxing and almost therapeutic place to visit.

I climbed the pass trail from west to east. The trail on the east side of Eagle Rock Pass is a little wider, less rocky, and maybe a little less steep. Shortly after the trail bottoms out on the east side, it joins up with the Boneyard Connector, which is one of the many cross-trails in the STA system.

This is one of the few STA trail junctions I encountered that does not have a trail marker. For the most part, the STA system has excellent signage. Sturdy posts, with identification and directional information have been installed at nearly every trail junction. Also, free descriptive trail maps are available at the trailhead information kiosk at the south edge of town.

The Boneyard Connector will take the trail user south, farther into the Peterson Ridge complex, or north, back toward Sisters. This connector trail crosses the old logging railroad grade, subsequently known as the Brooks Scanlon haul road, now known as Forest Road 4606. FR 4606 is the wide gravel road that crosses Three Creek Lake Road just a mile south of town and takes off southeast toward the rodeo grounds.

The distance from the trailhead to Forest Road 4606 and the start of the Eagle Rock Loop is a little less than two miles. The pass and loop trails can also be accessed by vehicle, following the 4606 Road to the point where the trails cross the road.

To experience Eagle Rock from the start of the STA trail network, simply head south on Elm Street. The trailhead is on the left, at the edge of town shortly after crossing Whychus Creek. Trail maps are available here and at bike shops and other businesses in town.

For a much shorter outing, it is easy to reach the Eagle Rock Loop Trail directly, by continuing south on Elm Street (Three Creek Lake Road) for about one mile beyond the trailhead. Turn left (southeast) on the gravel road (FR 4606) for about 0.75 mile, to the point where the trail system crosses the road. The Boneyard Connector crosses the road about another quarter-mile to the east.

From the road, the two-mile loop trail splits, heading south. The right fork will eventually circle around to the pass trail in less than two miles. For an even shorter trek, the left fork in the trail leads almost directly to the pass trail, which can be enjoyed quickly, with a return via the Boneyard Connector a little farther down the

road.

The Sisters Trails Alliance is a community volunteer organization. Help and new members are always welcome. For further information, log on to their website at www.sisterstrails.com.



Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: Sabrina McCarley

I write for Competitor Magazine and have featured the Eagle Rock Loop for our May issue...I am wondering if you have access to a good photo of the trail or views from the summit that we could use for the article.

Thanks so much for your time.

Sabrina McCarley




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