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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area


the Metolius River. The crystal clear Metolius is a spring-fed Wild and Scenic River. Photo courtesy of John Hutmacher.

arrowleaf balsamroot. The showy arrowleaf balsamroot grows in ponderosa pine forests along the Metolius River. Photo courtesy of Maret Pajutee.

bigleaf lupines and monkeyflowers. Bigleaf lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus) and monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus) along the Metolius River. Photo courtesy of Maret Pajutee.

wild rose. Wild rose if one of many flowering shrubs that occur along the Metolius River. Photo courtesy of John Hutmacher.

Metolius River

Forest: Deschutes National Forest

District: Sisters Ranger District

Description: The crystal clear Metolius is a spring-fed Wild and Scenic River which passes through stately ponderosa pine forests near Camp Sherman on the Sisters Ranger District. Public trails along the river can be easily accessed from many areas, including public campgrounds and from the Camp Sherman Store area. Driving or biking though the area along Road 14 is also popular and provides many scenic views of riparian and forest wildflowers.

Viewing: Trails along the Metolius River provide year round scenic views of native plants and wildflowers. Starting in May, river trails along areas like Riverside Campground begin the show with western buttercups (Ranunculus occidentalis), larkspur (Delphinium spp.), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis), and early blue violets (Viola adunca). As summer progresses, any river trail accessed from the Camp Sherman Visitor Parking Area or nearby campgrounds along Road 14, will be colorful with bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), American brooklime (Veronica americana), Douglas’s spirea (Spiraea douglasii), and several species of monkeyflowers (Mimulus spp.).

The unique wildflower islands in the river are formed as seeds and debris accumulate on trees which have fallen into the water and are made possible because of the rivers springfed, stable flows. Flood events which could wash logs and plants downstream are rare. These blooming islands provide important habitat for fish and wildlife.

If you are lucky you may even see the rare endemic wildflower Peck’s penstemon (Penstemon peckii), which grows only in the Sisters area and no where else in the world. Look in seasonally moist forests in Riverside Campground. Peck’s penstemon occurs in 7 different colors, so it may be easily confused with more common penstemon. Look for a pink flowered penstemon with nearby light blue and lavender flowered plants and you will likely have seen a rare treasure.

Even after most flowers have bloomed the Metolius River trails provide memorable displays as riparian vegetation changes into its fall colors. Please protect and take care of this special river.

Safety First: Care should be taking while hiking along the banks of the swift, cold Metolius River. Wear proper footwear and navigate carefully over rocks and tree roots.

Directions: Drive approximately 8 miles northwest of the town of Sisters, Oregon on Highway 20. Turn right (north) onto Rd. 14. As you drive north on Rd. 14, you can access trails along the Metolius River at various spots, such as campgrounds and by the Camp Sherman Store. A favorite spot is to park at the Metolius Fish Hatchery where trails lead north and south along both sides of the Metolius River.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Deschutes National Forest, Sisters Ranger District.

Closest Town: Camp Sherman, Oregon.