Trails

At Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hiking in nature is a recreational activity offered at the Refuge. It gives visitors a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with the natural surroundings. Some of the best areas to enjoy the Refuge can be found on Refuge trails. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a challenging hike, you’re likely to find what you want. Some trails are paved and universally accessible. Some trails include displays on visual arts, local history and culture or environmental education. All of our seven trails have trail access information posted at all trailheads.

Trail Etiquette

  • Dispose all trash and animal waste in trash receptacles. Pets must be kept on leash. 
  • Stay on trail, respect plants and wildlife.
  • Leave natural objects such as plants, animals, minerals, antlers and objects of antiquity.
  • Yield to pedestrians; many Refuge routes are multi-use trails.

Benson Pond Trail

Oasis for wildlife, the trail is named for George M. Benson, the first Refuge Game Warden (1918 – 1949). George and his wife Ethel lived in an old ranch house that once stood against the trees that have created an oasis for wildlife. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) pump house, constructed in the 1930s, still remains in the shade of these trees. Watch and listen for a variety of birds, you may see trumpeter swans that typically nest on the pond.
Trail Length (mi)
0.42
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Crane Pond Overlook Trail

Scenic landscapes and solitude, the trail provides open terrain that leads to a rim of basalt overlooking seasonal ponds. The ponds may be water-packed allowing one to quietly observe and identify variety of birds. If not, be rewarded with scenic landscapes and solitude.
Trail Length (mi)
0.44
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

River Trail

Along the scenic Blitzen River, the trail follows the most scenic section of the Blitzen River within the Refuge and provides viewing opportunities of songbirds and other wildlife. Best access on the trail is at the Historic P Ranch, where the original Peter French 1880s historic long barn, beef wheel and hay tripod are located. This trail is open to angling for native redband trout.
Trail Length (mi)
0.79
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Sod House Ranch Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.23
View Trail

Barns Springs Footpath

A glimpse at history, birds and wildflowers, the trail leads to a homestead site characterized by cottonwoods and other non-endemic trees and shrubs associated with historic landscapes. Bird for potential rare and incidental birds, particularly songbirds. At the end of the trail, observe an old mud brick building with corral and wattle fences. In the spring, the trail is abundant in wildflowers. Interpretive panels at the Frenchglen Wayside highlight key features of the area.
Trail Length (mi)
0.73
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Bridge Creek Trail

Wildlife viewing opportunities, the trail provides an abundance of birds and other wildlife intermixed with willows and other friendly wildlife habitat. This trail is open to angling for native redband trout.
Trail Length (mi)
1.63
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Buena Vista Overlook Trail

Short hike to an awe-inspiring view, the trail is surrounded by years of geological processes and an abundance of wildflowers. Instead of driving to the overlook, stretch your legs and take a short hike. The trail leads to an awe-inspiring view of the Steens Mountain, a panoramic view of the Blitzen Valley and the Refuge. Interpretive panels at the overlook highlight key features of the area. The overlook is dedicated to Patrick R. Hickey who designed and built the rock structure structure Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish… Learn more about structure at the overlook. This trail is noted as an excellent birding hike.
Trail Length (mi)
0.33
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Long Barn Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.16
View Trail

Overlook Trail

Stunning view of Lake Malheur, the trail goes through sagebrush habitat for an opportunity to view birds in the tree canopies above Refuge Headquarters. The trail leads to one of the four historic lookout towers built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and provides a stunning view of Malheur Lake that was established in 1908 to protect migratory and breeding birds.
Trail Length (mi)
0.11
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Route Type
Point to point
View Trail

Marshall Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.16
View Trail