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Metolius Recreation Area. On the eastern slope of the Cascades and within the 1.6-million-acre Deschutes National Forest, this bounty of recreational wilderness is drier and sunnier than the western side of the mountains, giving way to bountiful natural history, outdoor activities, and wildlife. There are spectacular views of jagged, 10,000-foot snowcapped Cascade peaks, looming high above the basin of an expansive evergreen valley clothed in pine.
Five miles south of Camp Sherman, (two miles to head waters) the dark and perfectly shaped cinder cone of Black Butte rises 6,400 feet. At its base the Metolius River springs forth. Witness the birth of this "instant" river by walking a short paved path embedded in ponderosa forest, eventually reaching a viewpoint with the dramatic snow-covered peak of Mt. Jefferson on the horizon. At this point, water gurgles to the ground's surface and pours into a wide trickling creek cascading over moss-covered rocks. Within feet it funnels outward, expanding its northerly flow; becomes a full-size river; and meanders east alongside grassy banks and a dense pine forest to join the Deschutes River downstream. In 1988 the 4,600-acre corridor of the Metolius was designated a National Wild and Scenic River, and in 2009 the state legislature designated the entire Metolius Basin Oregon's first "Area of Critical State Concern." Within the area and along the river, there are ample resources for camping, hiking, biking, and floating. Enjoy fly-fishing for rainbow, brown, and bull trout in perhaps the best spot within the Cascades. 9 miles northwest of Sisters, off Hwy. 20, Sisters, OR. www.metoliusriver.org.
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