Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
600.00 ft (182.88 m)
Trail type
4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Although it’s almost a two hour journey from Portland to the Deschutes River State Recreation Site, this trail it is certainly worth it.  Three reasons: Sun, sun, and more sun!  Oh, and a great swimming hole too!  In fact, if you’re looking to get sun kissed, whether its spring or fall, than the Deschutes River is probably one of the closest and most reliable destinations for vitamin D.

This great and easy trail essentially starts at the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia Rivers, follows/parallels an old rail line and takes you several miles upstream where you will be mesmerized by the smell of the Sagebrush, the golden glow of the grassy hillsides, unique and diverse wildflowers, and the melodic call of the Western Meadowlark (Oregon’s state bird).  It all depends on how much sun kissing and heat you need, but most-likely you’ll want to avoid the trail in the peak of the summer during July and August as temperatures over 100 degrees are not unlikely and the trail affords little to no shade.  Once back at the trailhead near the campground you’ll enjoy cooling off with a jump in the river, one of the region’s best swimming holes.  Unlike our cascade rivers that are fresh with nearby glacial runoff and remain extremely chilly year round, the waters of the Lower Deschutes River have been basking in the sun for at least 100 miles, making it much warmer than most swimming spots.  Enjoy!

Caution:  This is rattlesnake country, so always be on the lookout.  Ticks are also common, so before stepping back into your vehicle be sure to check your cloths, legs and pets to make sure you’re good to go.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Dry desert air. Nearby camping. Region's warmest swimming hole.


Mid-summer heat. Little shade.

Trailhead Elevation

300.00 ft (91.44 m)


Big vistas



Great 22.6 mile Canyon Hike! We started off at the Deschutes River Recreation Site and hiked in 11.3 miles to the Harris Canyon Water Tower and then turned around and headed back to the beginning!!! The Old Harris Farmhouse is no longer standing but still remains.
As a somewhat novice hiker, this was a really hard/confusing hike. Ended up going on the blackberry one when I meant to go on the railbed and neither was clearly marked nor obvious as to where to go next. When we finally scrambled up a bit, we walked a flat endless road and Ferry Springs nowhere to be found either so we wound up just walking back. swimming area is also somewhat dangerous looking as well.
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