Deschutes River Trail: Columbia River to Harris Island

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Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Deschutes River Trail: Columbia River to Harris Island is a 22.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Wasco, Oregon that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length22.2 miElevation gain1,040 ftRoute typeOut & back
kid friendlyCampingHikingHorseback ridingMountain bikingNature tripsWalkingBike touringBird watchingRunningDog friendlyRails trailsRiverViewswild-flowersWildlifeNo shade
Description
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Getting There

The hike follows an old rail bed from the Columbia River up the Deschutes River (part of the rails-to-trails system). This is just the beginning of the Oregon Desert so bring fresh water. Trail is flat. There will be dirt bike riders, fishermen and white water rafters. Along the river there are trees and green in the flats. Not far from the rivers edge is sage brush and cliffs. The area is close to Celilo Village, the tiny fishing community called Oregon's oldest town. Salvage archeological digs prior to the completion of The Dalles Dam confirmed that Indian people had continuously occupied the village site for at least 11,000 years. Multi-use trail for hiking, mountain biking, walking.

Parking available at the gravel lot immediately to the left of the Deschutes State Recreation Area entrance. No fee is required to park in this lot.

Bureau of Land Management: 503-808-6001

Take I-84 East from Portland past The Dalles. Take Exit 97 at Celilo Village. Follow the only paved road out of the village to the east (Highway 206). Cross the bridge over the Deschutes River. Turn right at about 1/3 mile at campground entrance. Parking lot on left. Trail starts at the entrance of the parking lot and ascends slightly.

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Reviews (92)
Photos (93)
Recordings (84)
Completed (179)
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Matt Mitchell
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BackpackingFee

Great view across the river & canyon the whole way. Easy hike. $7 per night fee for overnight parking at trailhead right off I-84. You'll come across decent spots to camp about once a mile. Pretty cool seeing the frequent trains across the river but they do come all night too. Not much variety in the scenery but its great regardless.

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Ken silva
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Hiking

Great trail for dusk and night hiking.

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Cliff Hickethier
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Hiking
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Sylvia Ashley
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Backpacking
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Sylvia Ashley
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Backpacking
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Sylvia Ashley
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Backpacking
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ben hedlund
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Hiking
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ben hedlund
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Hiking
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Holly Ng
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HikingNo shadeRocky

Be mindful of the weather when visiting. The River View trail ends after a little way and merges to the main access/bike/horse road. Wildlife, shade and views fairly limited. Tough ascents in some areas if you need to cool off in the river. Area known to get in the high 90s and 100s regularly during late summer. Well populated with fishers, bikers and campers if needing to seek help. Many locals use area so are well versed. Because it is so exposed without shade, not a must to hike a second time.

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Jada Phelps
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HikingGreat!

Magical trip, everything about the area is holy and it was windy the whole time so never got too hot.

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Timothy Hemenway
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HikingNo shade

Went there 6/21/20 and it wasn’t too hot. It was getting there and with limited shade, it would be a lot more fun to bike pack instead of backpack. We camped at the camp spot just before the homestead. We had a nice time and saw very few people.

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Brandon Morelli
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The trail is open! Solid hike when everything west of the Mountains is rainy. Our pup loved the trail, but once off the gravel road there are prickly burrs everywhere, so be careful. Scenic, but not super beautiful. All in all, a good 13 mile backpacking route. Lots of people on the trail this weekend.

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Adolfo Valdovinos
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HikingRocky

Super beautiful along the river.

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Dylan Mtb
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BackpackingBugs

(bikepacking) Struggled to find somewhere to camp after 8 miles when the sun set. It's a gravel road but the lack of any substantial climbing makes it fun, in a relaxing way. It's the perfect place to test bikepacking gear. The trains going by are cool. One came through after sundown. The bugs are bad, hundreds of gnats snuck into my tent when opening the doors. They love lights. The ants are enormous, the biggest I've ever seen. This is the perfect place to try riding at night, too, because the road is so easy. The stars were out and that was probably my favorite part. Two women on road bikes said they were camping on the trail without a tent, only a tarp, because they forgot their tent. I wonder how bad they were bitten I totally recommend this trail though. It seems like it would be a cinch on a fully rigid bike, but I still liked having my trail bike instead, to make the ride more comfortable. I could've left my sawyer behind, all the refill points look sketchy. Instead pack 3-4 liters per person and maybe a sawyer mini for emergencies. I bet an out-and-back day trip would be fun on any bike, even a mountain bike, because there are side trails that seem rideable, and the scenery.

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Jennifer Ahrens
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HikingNo shade

easy trail with nice views but no shade for dogs so warmer days is tough on the pooch. saw some nice flowers along the way and a deer. I took the middle elevation hiking trail on the way back to camp which had more real hike to it and no mountain bikes.

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Kurt Bitter
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Hiking

Gravel road that follows the river. Few spots to get down to the river to fish up to mile 2.5, otherwise you make your own way down.

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Andrew Stamp
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HikingNo shade

My recording is "day two" of a two day through-hike that started at Mack's Canyon Campground. Weather was pretty nice - lows in the 50s and highs in the Mid 70s. A breeze keep it from feeling too hot. Trail from Harris to the Lower Deschutes State park is in much better condition overall than the stretch from Macks Canyon to Harris. Very little shade. Many of the trees near the water survived the fire, and other than some burnt trees, it doesn't look much different. There are not as many water sources coming off the canyon in this stretch, so I filled from the river twice (only carried 1 ltr at a stretch). I suspect that most of those sources will be dry by June. Water seemed too high and turbid to be good for fishing. Lots of miner's lettuce and stinging nettle in the wetter areas if you get hungry! No mosquitos, no ticks, no snakes observed, no packrobbers (mice / chipmonks etc) observed. Saw a rabbit, a marmot, and lots of birds (ducks, geese, seagulls, etc). but no deer / elk observed but lots of sign (I suspect they are mostly nocturnal). I heard turkeys at 5:30 am at Harris Ranch.

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Brian McLeer
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Backpacking

Beautiful hike to Harris Ranch for an overnight trip in early April. Definately the fire of 2018 charred the landscape, but wild flowers and grasses were in the rebound. All structures at Harris Ranch are no more due to the fire. Lots of camping along riverside, though my guess is that it gets crowded with rafters later in the season. State Park only allows fires in a metal container and bring in your own firewood, so we just chose to not have a fire. It made sense, as firewood is limited at the campsites and the area needs to regrow.

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Caitlin Seyfried
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Really beautiful along the river! This area did recently get scorched, unfortunately. But vegetation is growing back and the landscape is still gorgeous.

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Tom Moose
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This will be a great trail to hike again in a season or two, but recent wildfires have made much of the hike ash covered and unattractive. Wait till spring 2019 at the earliest.

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Charles Hamilton
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I loved hiking this trail. it is scarred by the Substation fire, but it was very interesting and very do-able. My chihuahua and I went 8 miles total. The trail we chose was on an old rail bed which made the route out easy with not much elevation difference. The fire really changed the way this trail looks...but I found it very interesting. Take water and snacks...watch for rattlesnakes. There are composting toilets available along the trail. The river is beautiful and very inviting this time of year. We returned via the trail that follows right near the river. As for the trail, I recommend the Deschutes Canyon trail.

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Rolyn Miller
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Backpacking

I did an out and back to mile 12 as a slow and easy backpacking trip. WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES!!! Came across a few rattlers and had some nerve racking experiences with em. Just keep and eye out and you will be fine. It’s just easy to get distracted by the beautiful rolling hills. One luxury is the amount of outhouses along the trail, and fully stocked. The ranch house at mile 12 has officially collapsed and is no longer standing. The rail car at around mile 5 or 6 is still in great condition (so let’s keep it that way!) Other than those few things the trail itself was a piece of cake, miles were easy with hardly any elevation. The heat is probably the only thing to slow you down, so start as early in the day as possible, and take breaks as needed, or go swimming!

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Robb McCurdy
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Mountain biking

Biked and my ass was sore for a week but great views the entire way. I'll hike along river trail next time and enjoy more shade.

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Martijn Overdijk
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Hiking

Beautiful trail, today it was a quiet and peaceful day, almost no other people arround. We only met some fishermen, and a bunch of teenagers enjoying nature within their tents.

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Bob McCall
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grate

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Sharon Potter
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Hiking

Went up the river trail about 2 miles, then took a steep trail up to the Middle Trail, and followed that about another mile. Came back all the way on the Middle Trail. Saw several bikers up on the bike road above me. Views North and South of Deschutes River quite nice. Always windy. Flowers near gone, but blackberries abound!!

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Travis Tremblay
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Hiking

Decent trail. Not much wildlife

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Nikki Fimple
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Walking

Love this trail! One of my dogs favs! Following the river trail is the best in my opinion. When my husband comes along he always has his fishing pole to throw in a line while the dog and I mosey on down the trail. Also is never too crowed, and when you do pass people they are always the friendliest! I try and take the dog to this one at least once a week!

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PhLo M
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Hiking

Started along the river and cut up to the higher trail to make a nice loop with some great views. I would have gone out even farther if I didn't get such a late start.

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