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Leslie Gulch Public Lands Weekend Day-Hikes

September 3, 2019

$65 – $75

Leslie Gulch Public Lands Weekend Day-Hikes

When Sep 25, 2014 06:00 PM to
Sep 28, 2014 03:00 PM
Where Owyhee Canyonlands
Contact Name Michael O’Casey
Contact Phone (541)-330-2638
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In the far reaches of Southeastern Oregon at the end of a wandering dirt road, spectacular red rock formations extend skyward.  Leslie Gulch offers an array of hiking options that lead through sandy washes to panoramic amphitheaters of stone and sage.  Red-tailed hawks circle in the clear sky, and late summer draws the last of the wildflowers out from the hillside.  Visitors usually fall in love with the entirety of the Owyhee after a day hike through one of the three main gulches in the Leslie Gulch Wilderness Study Area.

A group hike through Juniper Gulch leaves a visitor in awe of the imprint of weather, water and time on the volcanic ash tufts that surround the faint trail.  There are incredible lessons in geology to be found, dating back to when volcanic activity from the Yellowstone hotspot occurred here some 15 million years ago.  The intriguing “hoodoo” formations are on full display once fully immersed in the cathedral of nearby Timber Gulch.  And the more open scramble in Dago Gulch will offer some simple slot canyoneering for anyone looking for an adventure around the next corner.

This secluded area is protected as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern because of the mixed terrain, sensitive plant species and presence of the iconic California bighorn sheep.  ONDA continues to work to protect the scenic and inspirational value of this landscape for the next generation.  Please join us for a chance to learn about some of the natural history of the area.

HERE is a Google map showing the general location of the hikes.

Leslie Gulch Trip
Endless rock formations offer ample opportunity to explore!


  • Thursday, September 25th: Meet at Succor Creek State Park by 6PM to set up camp, introduce one another, and enjoy the evening.
  • Friday, September 26th: At 8AM we will carpool to the trailhead and enjoy an all-day journey exploring the three main hikes of Leslie Gulch.
  • Saturday, September 27th: Drive the 4WD roads to the head of Three Fingers Gulch and then hike 5 miles up and back in the Three Fingers Gulch drainage.
  • Sunday, September 28th:  Folks have two options in the morning. The first is to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and pack up camp to head home. The second is to embark upon one more hike before leaving. We will take a vote as to which hike the group prefers to embark on: the summit of Three Fingers Rock, Juniper Gulch, or the Sheepsheads.  Arrive back at the Succor Creek State Park by 3PM to disassemble camp.

Well, it’s more like PLAY.  For a detailed description of the first day’s hike, read on….We’ll arrive mid-morning and begin with the longest hike into Juniper Gulch.  At 1.6 miles round-trip and 400 foot elevation gain, it’s a straightforward stroll that follows a narrow sandy wash, up gigantic, overhanging cliffs.  After a slight ridge, the trail comes to an end at an orange cliff of “honeymoon” rock. Once we reach the amphitheater there are plenty of opportunities to scramble around some of the amazing red-rock “hoodoo” formations before heading back down.  This hike is a great opportunity to see the largest herd of California bighorn sheep in the country that call this area home, as well as many wildflowers and plant species.

After returning to our cars for water and lunch we’ll head up Timber Gulch, a moderate challenge at 1.2 miles round-trip and 350 foot elevation gain.  The canyon splits about 0.3 miles in, and enters into an amphitheater of sheer, pinnacle cliffs that rise more than 200 feet straight up!  This cathedral is an excellent place to rest and take in the warmth of the red rock, while the more adventurous will find plenty of opportunities to scramble.

Our last effort will be a more exploratory approach up Dago Gulch- 1.6 miles round trip with 190 foot elevation gain.  We’ll walk up a closed road 0.8 mile, past the cliffs with columns and fluted green ash and try to navigate the narrow slot canyons.

Saturday and Sunday will involve similar “work”, but in other spectacular places. Photos from these trips are essential to spreading the word about what the Owyhee Canyonlands campaign is all about, and are a great help in grant applications: please bring your cameras and take lots of photos to share with us and the other folks on the trip!  Other than that, your job is to fall in love with the area, soak it all in, and get inspired to help us protect this area for current and future generations to enjoy!


Succor Creek State Park is a primitive camping area with plenty of available sites on the western and eastern sides of Succor Creek.  Most of the areas to pitch a tent will be within a short walk to your vehicle, and we will be convening at a central location at a picnic table for the fire and cooking.  There is one outhouse and a number of picnic tables, but no potable water.

The total distance to drive one-way is 58 miles.  In good weather this road is passable to nearly every vehicle (I have seen a Honda Civic make the trip).  If you want to explore any additional roads in the Owyhee before or after our hike I would recommend a high-clearance and 4WD vehicle.  But for this easy jaunt to Leslie Gulch, any family car will be fine.

 3 out of 5:
Potential and likely environmental factors include exposure to heat, mild physical exertion, navigating narrow spots with rock, scrambles on unstable rock surfaces. 

Participants are responsible for their own food and food preparation, backpacking/camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots are recommended for this trip.

We see extremely variable weather in eastern Oregon; be prepared for a blustery day and/or potentially very warm temperatures during the day, with lots of sun.  Bring a range of clothing so you would be comfortable in a range of temperatures – layering is essential!  In the case of rain, bring rain gear and warm clothes.

In addition to the items recommended above, please be sure to bring a good sun hat, sunblock, 2 or more quart water bottles, sunglasses, and sturdy hiking boots or shoes.


ONDA will provide excellent leadership and a number of group camp items to make things more comfortable such as a few chairs, a cook table, and a sun/rain tarp. During the hikes I will have a large group first aid kit.  I also always carry our satellite SPOT beacon for emergency communication: there is no dependable cell phone coverage where we will be.


This trip is led by ONDA’s Wilderness Stewarship Assistant, Michael O’Casey, Michael@onda.org.
Group size is limited to 15 members.
This trip is offered free for members.


An ONDA registration application and medical form is required for this trip.
 Click HERE for the form.  You only need to fill this form out once per year: You can join additional 2014 trips by e-mailing the trip leader directly.  You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting your form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the “wait list”.  Five weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs open spaces will be backfilled with people from the wait list.  Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc. However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the trip leader.


Deschutes Brewery
(541) 382-9242
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Deschutes Brewery Public House
1044 NW Bond St
Bend, OR 97701 United States
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