Metolius-Windigo Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the Metolius-Windigo Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 120 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Deschutes National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Metolius-Windigo Trail, located in the central Oregon region of the United States, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows a path that was once used by Native American tribes, primarily the Warm Springs and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, for trade and travel. These tribes inhabited the area for thousands of years and relied on the trail as a vital connection between the eastern and western parts of the state.

During the 19th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the region, leading to the establishment of the Oregon Trail. The Metolius-Windigo Trail served as a crucial link between the Oregon Trail and the Willamette Valley, enabling settlers to access the abundant natural resources and fertile lands of central Oregon. This trail played a significant role in the westward expansion and development of the region.

In the early 20th century, the trail gained further importance with the construction of the Santiam Wagon Road, which connected the towns of Sisters and Bend. This road facilitated the transportation of goods and people, contributing to the growth of the local economy. Over time, the trail evolved into a popular recreational route, attracting hikers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts who sought to explore the stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems of the area.

Today, the Metolius-Windigo Trail continues to be a cherished part of Oregon’s history and serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Native American tribes and the pioneers who shaped the region. Its historical significance, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a beloved destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in the rich heritage and breathtaking scenery of central Oregon.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Metolius-Windigo Trailhead: This is the starting point of the trail located near the Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest.

2. Windigo Pass Trailhead: Situated at Windigo Pass, this access point allows hikers to join the trail from the east.

3. Charlton Lake Trailhead: Located near Charlton Lake, this trailhead provides access to the Metolius-Windigo Trail from the west.

4. Lava Camp Lake Trailhead: This access point is near Lava Camp Lake and offers hikers an entry point to the trail.

5. Todd Lake Trailhead: Situated near Todd Lake, this trailhead allows hikers to join the Metolius-Windigo Trail from the north.

6. Elk Lake Trailhead: Located near Elk Lake, this access point provides hikers with an entry point to the trail from the south.

7. Devils Lake Trailhead: Situated near Devils Lake, this trailhead offers hikers an access point to the Metolius-Windigo Trail.

8. Sisters Mirror Lake Trailhead: This access point is near Sisters Mirror Lake and allows hikers to join the trail from the west.

9. Three Creek Lake Trailhead: Located near Three Creek Lake, this trailhead provides an entry point to the Metolius-Windigo Trail.

10. Cultus Lake Trailhead: Situated near Cultus Lake, this access point allows hikers to join the trail from the south.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Metolius-Windigo Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Sisters Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from the Metolius-Windigo Trail.
2. Bend Rides – Local transportation service offering rides to various trailheads, including the Metolius-Windigo Trail.
3. Cascade East Transit – Public bus service with stops near the Metolius-Windigo Trail, providing transportation options for hikers.
4. Uber – On-demand ride-hailing service available in the area, offering convenient transportation to the Metolius-Windigo Trail.
5. Lyft – Another popular ride-hailing service providing transportation services to the Metolius-Windigo Trail and surrounding areas.


The Metolius-Windigo Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at the trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including trailheads and camping areas.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas at the trailheads for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: The trail provides camping sites for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Water Sources: The trail offers access to water sources, such as rivers, streams, or lakes, where visitors can refill their water bottles or filter water for camping.

6. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, there may be additional amenities such as information boards, maps, and interpretive signs to provide guidance and information to visitors.

7. Trail Markers: The trail is well-marked with signs and markers to ensure visitors can easily navigate the trail.

8. Scenic Overlooks: Along the trail, there may be designated scenic overlooks or viewpoints where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

9. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The trail may have designated areas where visitors can observe and appreciate the local wildlife.

10. Interpretive Displays: There may be interpretive displays or educational signage along the trail, providing information about the natural and cultural history of the area.

Please note that amenities may vary depending on the specific sections or segments of the Metolius-Windigo Trail. It is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information on available amenities.

Nearby Services

1. Sisters Inn & Suites – Comfortable lodging option in Sisters, Oregon.
2. Three Creeks Brewing – Local brewery and restaurant offering craft beers and delicious food.
3. Sisters Coffee Company – Cozy coffee shop serving specialty coffee and pastries.
4. Sisters Athletic Club – Fitness center with various amenities including a pool and gym.
5. Sisters Ranger District Office – Local Forest Service office providing information and assistance for the trail.
6. Sisters Fire Department – Emergency services for the Sisters area.
7. St. Charles Medical Center – Full-service hospital in Bend, Oregon, for any medical emergencies.

Metolius-Windigo Trail Difficulty Notes

The Metolius-Windigo Trail presents a moderate to challenging difficulty level for hikers and backpackers. Spanning approximately 26 miles through the scenic Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, this trail offers a diverse terrain and elevation changes that can test one’s endurance and navigation skills. The trail includes steep ascents and descents, rocky sections, and occasional stream crossings, requiring hikers to be physically fit and mentally prepared. Additionally, the trail’s length and remote location make it necessary for hikers to carry sufficient supplies and be self-reliant. However, the stunning views of volcanic peaks, lush forests, and serene lakes along the way make the Metolius-Windigo Trail a rewarding and unforgettable adventure for those seeking a challenge.

Features And Attractions

The Metolius-Windigo Trail is a scenic trail located in central Oregon, USA. It stretches for approximately 120 miles and offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable points of interest along the trail:

1. Metolius River: The trail starts near the headwaters of the Metolius River, a beautiful and crystal-clear river known for its vibrant blue color and excellent fly fishing opportunities.

2. Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery: Located along the Metolius River, this fish hatchery offers a chance to learn about the local fish population and witness the release of young fish into the river.

3. Black Butte: This prominent volcanic cone stands at an elevation of 6,436 feet and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It is a popular hiking destination and provides a challenging but rewarding climb.

4. Three Sisters Wilderness: The trail passes through the Three Sisters Wilderness, a stunning area characterized by three volcanic peaks: North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister. The wilderness offers breathtaking alpine scenery, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife.

5. Todd Lake: This picturesque alpine lake is nestled in the Cascade Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks. It is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and hiking.

6. Elk Lake: Located at the southern end of the trail, Elk Lake is a beautiful mountain lake known for its clear waters and recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and camping.

7. Lava Butte: This cinder cone volcano offers a unique geological experience. Visitors can hike to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding lava fields and the Cascade Range.

8. Deschutes National Forest: The trail passes through the scenic Deschutes National Forest, offering opportunities for camping, wildlife viewing, and enjoying the diverse flora and fauna of the area.

9. Cultus Lake: This large and picturesque lake is surrounded by dense forests and offers opportunities for swimming, boating, and camping. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

10. Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Located near the trail, this monument encompasses a volcanic landscape with lava flows, cinder cones, and lakes. Visitors can explore the unique geological features and enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, and visiting the Lava River Cave.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Metolius-Windigo Trail. Exploring this trail provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty and diversity of central Oregon’s landscape.

Usage Guidelines

– Pets are allowed on the Metolius-Windigo Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Camping is allowed along the trail, but campfires are only permitted in designated fire rings or stoves.
– Leave No Trace principles should be followed, including packing out all trash and minimizing impact on the environment.
– Hunting and fishing are allowed in accordance with state regulations.
– Bicycles are allowed on certain sections of the trail, but motorized vehicles are prohibited.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions due to weather or maintenance.
– Permits may be required for overnight camping or certain activities, so it is advisable to check with the local forest service office before embarking on the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Metolius-Windigo Trail, located in the beautiful Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, offers stunning scenery and a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year. The best times to visit this trail depend on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in.

During the summer months, from June to September, the trail is at its busiest. The weather is generally warm and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and camping. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery, wildflowers, and the sound of rushing rivers, creating a picturesque setting. This is also the time when most of the facilities along the trail, such as campgrounds and visitor centers, are fully operational. However, it’s important to note that the trail can get crowded during this period, so if you prefer a quieter experience, it may be best to visit during weekdays or early mornings.

In the fall, from September to November, the Metolius-Windigo Trail transforms into a breathtaking display of autumn colors. The surrounding forests are ablaze with vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold, creating a truly magical atmosphere. This is a great time for hiking and photography enthusiasts who want to capture the beauty of the changing seasons. However, it’s worth noting that as the weather cools down, some facilities along the trail may start to close or have reduced hours, so it’s advisable to check ahead of time.

During the winter months, from December to February, the Metolius-Windigo Trail is covered in a blanket of snow, offering a completely different experience. This is the perfect time for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter camping. The trail takes on a serene and peaceful ambiance, with the snow-covered trees and frozen waterfalls creating a winter wonderland. However, it’s important to be well-prepared for winter conditions and check for any trail closures or restrictions due to heavy snowfall.

In conclusion, the best time to visit the Metolius-Windigo Trail depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of fall, the warm summer weather, or the tranquility of a winter landscape, this trail offers something for everyone. Just be sure to check for any seasonal closures or reduced facilities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Metolius-Windigo Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and natural obstacles.
2. ADA Accommodations: The trail does not have specific ADA accommodations, such as accessible parking, restrooms, or designated accessible areas.
3. Trail Surface: The trail consists of natural surfaces, including dirt, rocks, and tree roots, which may pose challenges for wheelchair users.
4. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout, and some sections may not be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
5. Steep Grades: The trail includes steep grades and uneven terrain, making it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
6. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have fallen trees, branches, or other natural obstacles that can impede wheelchair access.
7. Trail Elevation: The trail has significant elevation changes, which can be challenging for individuals with mobility limitations.
8. Trail Length: The Metolius-Windigo Trail spans approximately 25 miles, making it a long-distance trail that may not be suitable for all individuals with disabilities.
9. Accessible Alternatives: Visitors with mobility limitations may consider exploring accessible trails or areas nearby, such as paved paths or accessible viewpoints.
10. Accessibility Planning: It is recommended to contact local authorities or park management for detailed accessibility information and alternative options in the area.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Metolius-Windigo Trail is a moderately difficult trail with varying terrain and elevation changes, suitable for experienced hikers.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including sudden rain showers and temperature fluctuations, as the trail passes through different ecosystems.
3. Water Sources: Carry enough water as there are limited water sources along the trail, and treat any water found in natural sources before consumption.
4. Wildlife Awareness: Exercise caution and keep a safe distance from wildlife encountered on the trail, including bears, cougars, and snakes.
5. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost, as some sections of the trail may be less defined or have multiple intersecting paths.
6. Camping Regulations: Familiarize yourself with camping regulations and obtain necessary permits if planning to camp along the trail, as designated campsites may have restrictions.
7. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and respecting the natural environment.
8. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, map, compass, and other essential supplies, and inform someone of your hiking plans before embarking on the trail.
9. Trail Conditions: Check for trail updates and conditions before starting your hike, as sections of the trail may be closed or have temporary restrictions due to maintenance or natural hazards.
10. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike in groups for safety, especially in remote areas, and to inform others of your expected return time.

Conservation Notes

The Metolius-Windigo Trail, located in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, holds a conservation status that is of significant importance. The trail traverses through diverse ecosystems, including old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and volcanic landscapes, making it a crucial habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. The conservation status of the trail is primarily focused on preserving and protecting these unique ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Efforts to conserve the Metolius-Windigo Trail involve various strategies, such as maintaining and improving trail conditions to minimize human impact on the surrounding environment. This includes regular trail maintenance to prevent erosion, control invasive species, and ensure the safety of hikers and wildlife alike. Additionally, conservation initiatives aim to educate visitors about the importance of responsible outdoor practices, such as Leave No Trace principles, to minimize disturbance to the natural habitats along the trail.

The conservation status of the Metolius-Windigo Trail also involves monitoring and managing the impact of recreational activities on the surrounding ecosystems. This includes regulating the number of visitors and implementing permits to control the trail’s usage, particularly during sensitive times of the year, such as breeding seasons for wildlife. By carefully managing human activities, conservation efforts aim to maintain the ecological balance and protect the fragile habitats along the trail.

Overall, the conservation status of the Metolius-Windigo Trail reflects a commitment to preserving the unique ecosystems and biodiversity found within its boundaries. Through ongoing efforts to maintain trail conditions, educate visitors, and manage recreational activities, conservation initiatives strive to ensure the long-term sustainability and protection of this valuable natural resource.

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