Pendleton makes a great central location for hikers of all levels. Pendleton is located in Umatilla County and offers many diverse options for hikers from the Umatilla National Forest to the high desert views of the Columbia River. Play in the wilderness all day and enjoy the amenities in town during the evening. Below, you find a sample of what is available, or you can visit the Umatilla National Forest home page for more information. Remember: Always be safe and let someone know your plans.
North Fork Umatilla Wilderness area (Near Bar M Ranch) – click here for driving directions from Pendleton. Take a beautiful drive through the Umatilla Indian Reservation, at the base of the Blue Mountains, into one of only three specially designated wilderness areas in the Umatilla National Forest, the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness Area. There are no motorized vehicles allowed off the road in this area and there is a "Leave No Trace" behind policy. This is truly an Oregon experience not to be missed.
Harris Park – click here for driving directions from Pendleton. Follow the signs to Harris Park that are posted just before you enter Milton-Freewater. The park is situated in a relatively narrow canyon bottom, with hillsides to the north and south of the river. The county road ends about 1/8 mile beyond the Gene Palmer Campground. The U.S. Department of Interior (BLM) manages the three-mile stretch of the south fork of the Walla Walla River which runs from the Harris Park boundary to the Umatilla National Forest's west boundary. This land is designated an "area of critical environmental concern" (ACEC). The main management goal is protecting and enhancing the riparian ecosystem, fisheries habitat and the scenic resource while allowing regulated recreational use. Harris Park is an entrance to the ACEC for hikers.
Emigrant Springs State Park - From Pendleton take I-84 to exit 234, just 25 miles southeast of Pendleton. The entire park is open April 1 - October 29. Visit the Oregon Trail display in the park and take a stroll along the nature trail.
McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge - From Pendleton go south on HWY 395 for 8 miles, turn left into the refuge. Nestled between the plains and the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge offers habitat for rare and endangered species and is a haven for breeding and migratory birds. The lack of other local wetland habitats elevates the importance of this refuge as a home to a variety of wildlife and plant species in an arid environment. This area is perfect for leisure hiking/strolling and wildlife viewing. Birders will especially enjoy this refuge.
Hat Rock State Park - To get to Hat Rock State park from Pendleton, we suggest the scenic drive which takes you along Hwy 37 to Hwy 730 (just 1/2 mile North of Hat Rock State Park), or you can take I-84 through Hermiston. Hat Rock State Park, located off U.S. Highway 730 is nine miles east of Umatilla, and lies behind McNary Dam on the the south shore of Lake Wallula on the Columbia River. Hat Rock was the first distinctive landmark passed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their journey down the Columbia, and is one of the few remaining sites not underwater. The park is a desert oasis surrounded by rolling sagebrush hills and outcroppings of basalt. Several different hikes are available at the par: The 7.3 mile Lewis and Clark trail which offers beautiful vistas of the Columbia River and Lake Wallula, TheHat Rock Trail that which takes you past the basalt rock formation named by Lewis and Clark, and the Lakeside trail where you are sure to see geese.
Pendleton River Parkway – Step onto the Pendleton River Parkway and step into nature. Almost three miles of flat trail takes you along the banks of the Umatilla River through the heart of Pendleton. There are signs to point the way to the Parkway from Main Street and along Court Street.