Malheur River Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the Malheur River Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 8 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Malheur River Trail holds a significant place in the history of the American West. This trail, located in the state of Oregon, follows the course of the Malheur River, which has been a vital lifeline for both Native American tribes and European settlers. The history of the trail dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation along the river dating back to prehistoric times.

For centuries, the Malheur River served as a crucial transportation route for Native American tribes such as the Northern Paiute and the Burns Paiute. These tribes relied on the river for fishing, hunting, and gathering resources. The trail was an essential part of their daily lives, connecting various tribal communities and providing access to important resources.

In the 19th century, European settlers began to explore and settle the region. The discovery of gold in the nearby mountains brought a wave of prospectors to the area, and the Malheur River Trail became an important route for them. The trail provided a direct path to the goldfields, allowing miners to transport their equipment and supplies. The river itself was also a source of gold, attracting many miners who engaged in placer mining along its banks.

As the region developed, the Malheur River Trail played a crucial role in the establishment of towns and communities. It served as a transportation corridor for goods and people, facilitating trade and commerce. The trail also became an important route for cattle drives, as ranchers used it to move their livestock to market.

Today, the Malheur River Trail stands as a testament to the rich history of the American West. It serves as a reminder of the Native American tribes who first inhabited the region and the pioneers who settled and developed the area. The trail continues to attract outdoor enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into the past and providing a connection to the land’s historical significance.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Malheur River Trailhead: This is the main access point for the trail and is located near the town of Drewsey, Oregon. It provides parking facilities and information about the trail.

2. Riverside Trailhead: Located further downstream along the Malheur River, this trailhead offers access to the trail and is a popular starting point for hikers and backpackers.

3. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters: Situated near the town of Princeton, Oregon, this access point provides visitors with information about the trail and the wildlife refuge. It also offers parking facilities and restrooms.

4. Page Springs Campground: This campground is located along the Malheur River and serves as a trailhead for the Malheur River Trail. It offers camping facilities and access to the trail.

5. Malheur River Recreation Site: Situated near the town of Juntura, Oregon, this recreation site provides access to the trail and offers camping facilities, picnic areas, and restrooms.

6. Malheur River Bridge: This bridge, located along Highway 20, provides access to the trail for those traveling by car. It offers parking facilities and a starting point for hikers.

7. Malheur River Canyon Overlook: This scenic overlook is located along the trail and offers stunning views of the Malheur River Canyon. It serves as a popular stopping point for hikers and photographers.

8. Malheur River Campground: Situated near the town of Ironside, Oregon, this campground provides access to the trail and offers camping facilities, picnic areas, and restrooms.

9. Malheur River Ranch: This private ranch offers access to the trail for visitors who are staying at the ranch or have obtained permission. It provides a unique starting point for hikers and offers opportunities for wildlife viewing.

10. Malheur River Wilderness Area: This designated wilderness area provides access to the trail and offers a remote and pristine hiking experience. It is located further downstream along the Malheur River.

Transportation Available

1. Malheur River Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from various trailheads along the Malheur River Trail.
2. Malheur River Taxi – Taxi service offering convenient transportation options for hikers and visitors exploring the Malheur River Trail.
3. Malheur River Bike Rentals – Bike rental service allowing visitors to explore the Malheur River Trail on two wheels.
4. Malheur River Trail Bus – Bus service providing transportation to different sections of the Malheur River Trail for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Malheur River Trail Carpool – Carpooling service connecting individuals interested in sharing rides to and from the Malheur River Trail.


The amenities available at the Malheur River Trail may vary depending on the specific location or section of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available, either at trailheads or designated rest areas.

2. Parking: There are parking areas or designated parking lots at various trailheads or access points along the Malheur River Trail.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the specific section of the trail, there may be designated camping sites or backcountry camping options available. It is important to check with local authorities or land management agencies for any permits or regulations regarding camping.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the trail may have designated picnic areas or scenic spots where visitors can stop and have a picnic.

5. Trailhead Facilities: At certain trailheads, you may find additional amenities such as information kiosks, maps, interpretive signs, or visitor centers.

6. Water Sources: Along the trail, there may be access to water sources such as rivers, streams, or lakes. However, it is advisable to carry your own water or purifying equipment.

7. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail may have markers, signs, or trail maps to help guide hikers and provide information about the trail.

It is important to note that the availability of amenities can vary, and it is recommended to research and plan accordingly before visiting the Malheur River Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Malheur River Inn – A cozy lodging option near the trail with comfortable rooms and friendly staff.
2. Riverside Restaurant – A nearby eatery offering delicious meals and scenic views of the Malheur River.
3. Prairie City Motel – A convenient lodging option with clean rooms and affordable rates.
4. Grant County Sheriff’s Office – Emergency services available for any unforeseen situations along the trail.
5. Prairie City Clinic – A medical facility providing emergency medical services and healthcare support.
6. Prairie City Volunteer Fire Department – Emergency services available for fire-related incidents in the area.
7. Prairie City Pharmacy – A nearby pharmacy offering essential medications and healthcare products.
8. Prairie City Market – A grocery store where you can stock up on supplies for your trail adventure.
9. Malheur National Forest Headquarters – Information and assistance for visitors exploring the trail and surrounding areas.
10. Malheur River Campground – A scenic camping spot along the trail, perfect for overnight stays.

Malheur River Trail Difficulty Notes

The Malheur River Trail presents a moderate level of difficulty for hikers. Spanning approximately 14 miles, the trail offers a diverse terrain that includes rocky sections, steep ascents and descents, and occasional stream crossings. While the trail is well-marked and maintained, hikers should be prepared for uneven surfaces and potential obstacles along the way. The trail’s length and elevation changes require a moderate level of fitness and endurance, making it suitable for experienced hikers or those seeking a challenge. However, the stunning views of the Malheur River and surrounding landscapes make the effort worthwhile, rewarding hikers with a memorable and scenic adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Malheur River Trail is a scenic trail located in eastern Oregon, offering breathtaking views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: This expansive wildlife refuge is home to a diverse range of bird species, including migratory birds. It offers stunning views of wetlands, marshes, and meadows.

2. Malheur River Canyon: As you hike along the trail, you’ll encounter the beautiful Malheur River Canyon. This rugged canyon features towering cliffs, unique rock formations, and the winding river below.

3. Steens Mountain: Although not directly on the trail, Steens Mountain is a prominent landmark visible from various points along the Malheur River Trail. It is a massive fault-block mountain range with stunning vistas and diverse wildlife.

4. Historic Rudio Ranch: Located near the trail, the Rudio Ranch is a historic site that dates back to the late 1800s. It offers a glimpse into the region’s ranching history and features well-preserved buildings and artifacts.

5. Succor Creek State Natural Area: This natural area is situated near the trail and offers stunning views of the rugged canyon landscape. It is known for its unique rock formations, including the “Pillars of Rome.”

6. Malheur Butte: Rising above the surrounding landscape, Malheur Butte is a volcanic landmark that provides panoramic views of the surrounding area. It is a great spot for photography and birdwatching.

7. Historic mining sites: Along the trail, you may come across remnants of historic mining operations. These sites offer a glimpse into the area’s mining history and provide interesting photo opportunities.

8. Wildlife sightings: The Malheur River Trail is known for its abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, elk, coyotes, and various bird species, including eagles, hawks, and waterfowl.

9. Wildflower displays: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers. Enjoy the colorful displays as you hike through meadows and along the riverbanks.

10. Peaceful camping spots: The trail offers several camping spots along the way, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. Set up camp near the river and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can experience along the Malheur River Trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Malheur River Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is permitted along the trail, but campfires are only allowed in designated fire rings or stoves.
3. Hiking and biking are allowed year-round on the trail, but certain sections may be closed during the winter months due to snow or hazardous conditions.
4. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
5. Leave no trace principles should be followed, including packing out all trash and waste.
6. Fishing is allowed in the Malheur River, but a valid fishing license is required.
7. Hunting is permitted in designated areas along the trail during the appropriate seasons, but hunters must comply with all state regulations.
8. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed any animals encountered on the trail.
9. Overnight camping requires a permit, which can be obtained from the local ranger station or online.
10. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into sensitive or restricted areas.
11. Be aware of potential hazards such as uneven terrain, wildlife encounters, and changing weather conditions.
12. Respect private property boundaries and do not trespass on adjacent lands.
13. Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses on the trail.
14. Carry sufficient water and supplies, as there may be limited access to amenities along the trail.
15. Check for any trail updates or closures before embarking on your journey.

Seasonal Information

The Malheur River Trail, located in eastern Oregon, offers a stunning outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, and the weather is generally mild and pleasant. The fall season brings beautiful foliage colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for your hike. During these times, the temperatures are comfortable, and the trail is less crowded, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings.

It is important to note that the Malheur River Trail has seasonal closures due to weather conditions and wildlife management. The trail is typically closed during the winter months, from December to February, as heavy snowfall and icy conditions make it unsafe for hiking. Additionally, some sections of the trail may be closed during the summer months for wildlife protection, particularly during nesting seasons. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the Bureau of Land Management for up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions before planning your visit.

Despite these closures, the Malheur River Trail offers a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year. Apart from hiking, visitors can enjoy fishing in the river, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. The trail provides an opportunity to observe a diverse range of bird species, including waterfowl, raptors, and migratory birds. Wildlife such as deer, elk, and coyotes can also be spotted along the trail. Whether you are a nature lover, an avid hiker, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the Malheur River Trail offers a unique and unforgettable experience throughout the seasons.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trailhead with sufficient space for wheelchair users to enter and exit their vehicles.
2. Accessible Trailhead: A trailhead with a smooth and level surface, allowing easy access for wheelchair users.
3. Paved Pathways: The trail features paved pathways, providing a smooth surface for wheelchair users to navigate.
4. Wide Trails: The trails are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, allowing for easy passage and maneuverability.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms along the trail that are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, with appropriate grab bars and maneuvering space.
6. Benches and Rest Areas: Wheelchair-accessible benches and rest areas are available along the trail for users to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
7. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options for wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor meals.
8. Signage and Wayfinding: Clear and visible signage along the trail, including accessible maps and directions, to assist wheelchair users in navigating the area.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail for users to stay hydrated.
10. Assistance Animals: The trail allows for the presence of assistance animals, such as service dogs, to accompany individuals with disabilities.
11. Accessible Viewing Areas: Designated areas along the trail that provide wheelchair users with optimal views of scenic spots or points of interest.
12. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays along the trail that are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to learn about the natural and cultural features of the area.
13. Accessible Fishing Spots: Designated fishing spots along the trail that are accessible for wheelchair users, providing opportunities for inclusive recreational activities.
14. Emergency Accessibility: The trail has measures in place to ensure emergency accessibility for wheelchair users, such as accessible emergency call boxes or evacuation plans.
15. Accessible Transportation: The trail provides accessible transportation options, such as shuttle services or accessible parking shuttles, to facilitate access for wheelchair users.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Malheur River Trail is a moderately difficult trail with uneven terrain and some steep sections, requiring proper hiking skills and fitness level.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day, and sudden storms are possible.
3. Water Availability: Carry enough water as there are limited water sources along the trail, and it is recommended to bring a water filtration system for refilling.
4. Wildlife Encounters: Exercise caution and keep a safe distance from wildlife, including rattlesnakes, bears, and cougars, by making noise and carrying bear spray.
5. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs, as the trail can be faint in some areas, and it is easy to get off track.
6. Navigation Tools: Carry a detailed map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on the correct trail and can find your way back if needed.
7. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, as shade may be limited along the trail.
8. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support to navigate the uneven terrain and protect your feet from potential hazards.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, whistle, and emergency shelter in case of injuries or unexpected situations.
10. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impacts, and respecting the natural environment.
11. Trail Conditions: Check for trail updates or closures before your trip, as conditions can change due to weather events or maintenance work.
12. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety, especially in remote areas with limited cell phone reception.
13. Inform Others: Let someone know your hiking plans, including your expected route and return time, in case of emergencies.
14. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting the trail, as it involves long distances and challenging terrain.
15. Permits and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any required permits or regulations for hiking the Malheur River Trail, and adhere to them accordingly.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Malheur River Trail is of significant concern due to various factors impacting its ecological integrity. The trail traverses through a diverse range of habitats, including riparian zones, wetlands, and upland forests, which are crucial for supporting a wide array of plant and animal species. However, the conservation status of the trail is currently classified as vulnerable, primarily due to habitat degradation and fragmentation.

One of the major threats to the conservation of the Malheur River Trail is the alteration of riparian zones. These areas are critical for maintaining water quality, regulating stream flow, and providing habitat for numerous species. However, human activities such as agriculture, urban development, and livestock grazing have resulted in the degradation of riparian vegetation, leading to increased erosion, reduced water quality, and loss of habitat for sensitive species.

Furthermore, the fragmentation of habitats along the trail poses a significant challenge to conservation efforts. Fragmentation occurs when natural habitats are divided into smaller, isolated patches, which can disrupt ecological processes and limit the movement of wildlife. The construction of roads, infrastructure development, and land conversion for agriculture have all contributed to habitat fragmentation along the Malheur River Trail, further exacerbating the conservation concerns.

Efforts are being made to address these conservation challenges and improve the status of the Malheur River Trail. Conservation organizations, land managers, and local communities are working together to restore riparian vegetation, implement sustainable land management practices, and establish wildlife corridors to reconnect fragmented habitats. These initiatives aim to enhance the ecological resilience of the trail, protect vulnerable species, and ensure the long-term conservation of this valuable natural resource.

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