Pike Creek Canyon is a dramatic rugged location tucked away on the eastern side of Steens Mountains. This area offers the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine providing great opportunities to enjoy the breathtaking landscape and amazing geology. Spend your time hiking, sightseeing, rock collecting, and camping.
Camping is allowed at Pike Creek. There are multiple sites with big boulders and cottonwoods along the creek that provide sheltered camping. Do not cut any trees for firewood. They are rare in the high desert and surrounding mountains.
The parking area and some portions of the land at the creek are private property. Be sure to pack out all trash, do not abuse the privilege of accessing the area.
Moderate to Difficult | 5.6 miles (9 km) out & back | 1,100 ft (335 m) elevation gain
The only developed trail on the eastern slope of Steens Mountain, Pike Creek is 5.6 miles out-and-back route running up the canyon along a small creek running year-round. The hike begins at a colorful huge boulder with a juniper sprouting from it and at the mouth of the canyon. The trail crosses the creek twice – a few yards and then 0.9 miles from the trailhead.
The first 1.4 miles is an established old mining track. On your way, you’ll see an abandoned uranium mine shaft and other remnants of the past. After the second creek crossing, the trail becomes narrow, rocky, and steep and runs another 1 mile to Pike Creek Basin. It is not safe to cross the creek during high water and spring runoff. So, the best time to visit is from May to October.
The trailhead is located 0.5 miles from Fields-Denio Road. There are free trail access and free parking near the road. Park your car and hike 0.5 miles to the point where the trail begins. If you have a high-clearance vehicle you can drive a portion of the road but do not drive all way to the trailhead. The public BLM road has been washed out and is getting bumpy and rugged with huge boulders poking out the further you drive. There are lots of huge boulders at the endpoint and a chance for U-turn without scratching your car is minimal.
Another option to drive directly to the trailhead and camping area is accessing the private road nearby. You should pay a fee and check-in for a Wilderness Day Pass at Alvord Hot Springs that located 2 miles south.
The area is known for an opportunity to find thundereggs filled with jasper and/or agate. You can explore mountain slopes, search the creek bed, and other dry washes around this area.
Besides thundereggs, you can find agate, jasper, obsidian, uranium, petrified wood, and sea fossils.
Knows Before You Go
- There are long distances between gas stations, services, and food
- No cell phone services in the area
- Rattlesnakes are a possibility in the lower canyon, so caution is advised
- Steens Mountain is a popular hunting area from September through November; be cautious and wear bright clothing.
Pike Creek | General Description
Open: Best time: May-October
Managed: BLM, partially private
Rocks & Minerals: Thundereggs, jasper, agate, obsidian, fossils, and petrified wood
Tools: Geology pick
Activities: Rockhounding, hiking, camping
Accommodations: Camping is allowed along the creek
Distance from the parking: Vary
Road access: A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended
Day-use fees: None if park on BLM land
Popularity: Low to moderate
Elevation: 4,300 ft (1,310 m)
Pike Creek is located:
- 25 miles north of Fields
- 104 miles south of Burns
- 400 miles southeast of Portland.