Day-Tripping: Checking Out the Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition

Day-Tripping: Checking Out the Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition

Yesterday I attended the dedication for the new 480-acre addition to the Whychus Canyon Preserve in Sisters. I had previously hiked the trails within the Preserve and loved them, so this seemed like a great excuse to return.

(To digress for a moment, if you’ve never explored the Whychus Canyon Preserve, you’re missing out. Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve It’s a nature-lover’s nirvana, with trails meandering along the rocky, deserty crest of the canyon and diving down into the verdant valley basin below. Then there’s the star of this show: Whychus Creek, which provides its own distinct appeal.)

The 480-acre addition to Whychus Canyon Preserve was acquired last fall; it brings the total lands owned and managed by the Deschutes Land Trust to 930 acres. That includes 3.7 miles of Whychus Creek, along with high-quality grasslands and old-growth juniper stands.

The goal of the Land Trust is to protect the highest-quality wildlife habitat along Whychus Creek; to ensure the permanent care of those lands for generations to come; and secure important habitat for salmon and steelhead, deer and elk, eagles and songbirds. (Until yesterday, I didn’t know that Whychus Creek was historically the most productive steelhead stream in the upper basin of the Deschutes River.) Protecting and restoring the habitat needed to rebuild the wild steelhead run of the Deschutes River is a key Land Trust component.

I was especially glad I attended the Saturday morning ceremony after I learned that, for now anyway, this addition to the Preserve is only open for guided tours (the main Preserve, on the other hand, has an extensive network of trails that are open to the public).

Deschutes Land Trust's Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication

Deschutes Land Trust’s Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony.

 

After the official dedication, the large group of attendees broke into smaller hiking groups, based on a variety of interests (bird-watching, geology, etc.). I opted for the Wildflower Walk, which, it turned out, was really a Weed Walk.

 

Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication

Deschutes Land Trust docent Jane Meissner gathers her group.

 

As Land Trust docents/guides Jane Meissner and David Miller explained, because the flow of Whychus Creek had been redirected many years ago and the area we were exploring had been pasture/range land for so long, it had shifted from a wet meadow to a dry meadow, where hearty weeds were dominant. The Land Trust will be converting the area back to a wet meadow, so in time those wildflowers will return.

For now, however, here’s a glimpse of our morning trek through the new stretch of Whychus Canyon Preserve, along with a few bits of trivia shared by our guides.

Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve parking

Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve parking.

 

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

A lone reminder of civilization dots the canyon rim.

 

Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition

Numerous hiking groups explored the area.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

One of the most picturesque finds o’ the day: Yellow salsify.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

The Wildflower Walk group listening to Land Trust docent David Miller.

 

Deschutes Land Trust-Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition

The canyon is home to wax and golden currant.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

Land Trust docent Jane Meissner (in green shirt) educating the Wildflower Walk group.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

Another common Canyon find: horsehair (aka scouring rush).

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

A view of the Preserve hillside.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

Vestiges of last year’s mullein are common in the Preserve.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

Whychus Creek as it flows through the Preserve.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

To find a water source, look for mountain alder.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

While you’re exploring, make sure to look down — there are occasional remnants of old twisted barbed wire lurking in the grass.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

A trio takes a break beside Whychus Creek.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

The end of the road for the day’s official festivities.

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

As I was leaving, I spotted these felled trees. I learned that they were donated by an area landowner and will be used in the creek restoration project here (along with many, many more to come).

 

Whychus Canyon Preserve Addition Dedication Ceremony

Post-ceremony, a hiker lingers along Whychus Creek.

 

If you go: One minor caveat: Getting to the new stretch of Preserve is a bit more challenging than the original – it’s accessed from the tail end of Mountain View Road rather than Goodrich Road (where you’ll find the trailhead for the main Preserve). And, don’t forget, for now it’s only open for organized tours, so you’ll need to plan ahead. The Trust does have quite a few scheduled tours in the upcoming months.

 

About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.

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