I visited The Cove Palisades State Park on an overcast mid-January day.
There are apparently 3 ways to get to the trailhead: park at the day-use or boat ramp parking lots ($5) or start from your camp site (if you overnight there). From the trail-head information panel (sign up the register there if you'd like) it is about 1.25 uphill for a 600ft elevation gain. A bit of a workout but not really too challenging (depending on what shape you are in of course). The trail is sometimes narrow and (I got there after a few days of on-again/off-again rain) muddy. There are a few wooden steps sections in the first half but, again, nothing to put too much of a strain on joints.
Once on the plateau, the main objective is to complete the Tam-a-Lau loop (about 3.5 miles). The loop includes a 1.25 miles traverse between the Deschute River and Crooked River canyons, and hugs the edge of the plateau, above the rivers, for 1+ miles each side. As the trail stays very close to the edge, there are countless opportunities for carefully looking over the edge and taking pictures.
I decided to extend the standard loop by continuing on the dirt road on the west side of the Crooked River Canyon for about 0.66 miles until another dirt road branches at 90 degrees on the left to connect with the South Peninsula (dirt) road after .2 miles. I then descended the South Peninsula Rd for another .75 miles to the edge of the lower plateau above the Crooked River. I then got off the road and followed the edge of the lower plateau for a while; the views a quite amazing on that section too... but stay extra vigilant as it is a fully vertical drop to the river below and the edge is sometimes eroded and starting to separate from the main landmass.
Rather than retracing my steps up the South Peninsula Rd, I followed a use trail directly up to the summit plateau and the Tam-a-Lau loop.
I did give 5 stars on account of the stunning views of the river and the canyon walls (not to forget a short visit to the Crooked River petroglyph just off the road). You have however to love the desert to completely share my enthusiasm; not lush forests, no (accessible) water, sparse arid scrubby vegetation... this is likely a very hot and dry place if you visit it during the warmer times of the year. Of course, in you are here to enjoy water sports too, you would have many options to compensate for a sweaty day on the trail.

We just did this hike for the first time today. It is such a nice hike. Once we made it to the top we enjoyed a panoramic view of the mountains, the cove and the sounding landscape.

5 months ago

Lovely hike. Warning...if it says you will FORD the creek, believe it. We didn't bring water shoes so didn't get to finish the hike. It is an easy ford with water shoes. One gal forded barefoot .

The road in is VERY rocky and a good clearance vehicle is recommended. The road said it was closed due to fire in progress. The fire is over and there was no equipment on the site. We will try it again with water shoes this time. I gave it a 4 because I didn't get to finish

5 months ago

great views of Central Oregon. no wind today. amazing hike. Hiked the loop trail to summit and back down service road. Awesome day

Cove Palisades state park is a hidden gem, great facilities, lake, picnic, boat rentals, etc. The hike is 7mi round trip from trailhead parking. You can park is lower lot and head towards campground….saves 1mi and trail runs right next to the lot. Nice views from the top.

7 months ago

Good views at the top.

Recently hiked this trail (7/29/17). It was beautiful, and we saw so many animals including a doe, a rabbit, lizards, vultures, etc. I recommend doing this hike early in the summer because of the heat and there is no shade once you reach the loop. The elevation gain is all at the beginning of the hike and the bulk of the trail is flat. Great views of Mt. Hood, Bachelor, and the Three Sisters, as well as the amazing green color of Lake Billy Chinook.

Hiked to Creek crossing but was more like raging river so could not cross--too deep & swift. Would try again in Fall. So, did not see best part of trail on 7/26/17

Really hot and long to do in July. Probably better in a cooler season.

I'll second Charyl's review. "Low Effort, High Reward."

Low Effort, High Reward.

Beautiful view of Lake Billy Chinook from the top. Great hike!

We did it as a family we all loved it and even had a picnic at the rim. We can't wait to do the trail again in the fall. Great views. Great family time.

Rocky not a running trail. Wonderful River must ford the river at about mile 1.5. 5 mile dirt road into trail head. Pretty rough in places.

10 months ago

Hurry if you want to see the wildflowers. The weather was perfect today for mountain views. Not much traffic on the trail (McCoin Orchard trail head). The 'rough gravel road' to get up there is pretty gnarly from the heavy rains this year, and I was very happy I had AWD with my old Subie!

Gorgeous hike!

10 months ago

Access road to the trail head is pretty rough, shouldn't be driven without a high clearance vehicle.
Trail is clearly marked and easy to walk on in most areas. Going down into the canyon is easy, the way back is the work but it's not bad. Not much shade along the way so bring lots of water/hat. Be aware of ticks and rattlesnakes. You'll have to cross the creek to continue on the trail. The end of the trail has large ponderosa pines and huge boulders to sit on along the Deschutes... this is a great place for lunch or to dip your feet in the water. Lots of cool rock formations, wild flowers and the creek to see along the hike.

Just did some of this trail today. Absolutely amazing views. We didn't know Oregon had this to offer. We are no strangers to difficult "non-stroller friendly" trails but we hiked this one with our large wheeled stroller with our two year old... not recommended. It's a moderately difficult hike to begin with but with a stroller it was down right hard. So much so that we just had lunch at the top and returned. We hope to come back and finish once our kid is old enough to walk on his own. Our seven year old did fine. Lots of rocks... Wear good boots. Not for the faint of heart (steep dropoffs with 12" footing, no fall prevention) I'm not a runner but I'd say this is no running trail!

Once you get on top it looks pretty flat... still lots of rocks on the trail.

The campground is nice, has a nice off leash area for dogs! I wish Oregon Parks would be more friendly to "walk-in" campers. Who plans thier trips so far in advance to know which days to stay where? Kinda takes the fun out of it no?

11 months ago

Beautiful! As of today 3-25 it was slightly muddy. The drive there was a lot more muddy than the actual hike but I also drove way in and didn't start at the actual trailhead.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Great views from the top. Deer and birds, trail in great shape. Nobody else on the trail over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Beautiful views!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Beautiful hike. Mostly easy with some rock scrambling, cliff edges, creek crossings. The scenery is well worth the trip. The road getting there is really rough. I would advise a good clearance vehicle.

Great hike. Been a couple of years since I have done this hike. Awesome views at the top.

Most of the hike was on top of the bluff. The vegetation was juniper & sage which covers most of central Oregon & so therefore pretty "ho-hum". One-and-a-half miles of the trail over look down into the gorge. This can cause a bit of vertigo, but worth the view...this is why it only gets two stars.

A great hike with spectacular views.

Awesome, great for a group of friends

Sunday, May 08, 2016

This was a geology hike led and sponsored by the Deschutes Land Trust. The hike began in an area of volcanic tuff (pyroclastic flows) at the trail head and ran 1.5 miles down to Alder Springs and Whychus Creek, which is an area of sedimentary deposition. There are several hoodoos above the Springs. This hike did not cross (ford) Whychus Creek. After the ford, the trail continues another 1.5 miles to the confluence of Whychus Creek with the Deschutes River. Be advised that you pay for the walk down with a climb back out of the canyon, but it is not too taxing.

Awesome. Beautiful views, 1st mile is difficult the rest is very easy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Easy hike, great views, very rough road to trailhead.

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