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Metolius River

Photo courtesy of Deschutes Forest Service

The magic of the Metolius River is on full display the second its headwaters emerge from a spring at the base of Black Butte near Sisters. From there, over the course of 29 miles, the crystal-clear river fascinates and hypnotizes just about everyone lucky enough to visit its teal-hued waters.

The officially designated National Wild and Scenic River flows through a thick forest of old-growth ponderosa pine between the community of Camp Sherman and Lake Billy Chinook near Madras—where it enters the more arid high desert.

Along the way, the river’s cold, clear pools are popular among anglers who enjoy blue ribbon fly fishing for rainbow trout, kokanee, and mountain whitefish. Campgrounds, meanwhile, offer the chance to spend a night on its banks, and hiking trails offer up-close views of the many species of bird that frequent the fertile corridor. Lucky visitors might even spy deer and elk that call the area home.

One of the area’s many highlights is the West Metolius River hike—a 5.5-mile (round-trip) outing that departs from the Lower Canyon Creek Campground, passes colorful springtime wildflowers, and arrives at the Wizard Falls Hatchery (which rears kokanee salmon and rainbow trout).

Open Season

Metolius River is open year-round; the West Metolius River hike is accessible March-Nov.; and the Head of the Metolius Observation Site is open year-round.

Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Leashed dogs are permitted.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

See where the magical river begins its journey from the Head of the Metolius Observation Site near Sisters.

Fees or Pass Needed



Horses, mountain bikes, and motorized vehicles (such as e-bikes) are not permitted on the West Metolius River trail.





Picnic Tables


Parking is available at the West Metolius River hike trailhead (Lower Canyon Creek Campground) the Wizard Falls Hatchery, and the Head of the Metolius Observation Site.


The Head of the Metolius Observation Site is about 20 minutes northwest of Sisters via Highway 20, Metolius River Camp Sherman Road, and SW Metolius River Road. The West Metolius River trailhead, meanwhile, is about 30 minutes northwest of Sisters via Highway 20 and Metolius River Camp Sherman Road.

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