The trail to Alder Springs begins along a ridgeline above the Whychus Creek canyon. It heads along the canyon rim for about half of a mile and the views of the narrow canyon, full of Ponderosa Pine, winding its way through the desert are pretty impressive. After the traverse of the rim, the trail begins descending rapidly down a side canyon towards Alder Springs. The rock formations you encounter on the trail down to the creek are truly magnificent. About halfway down this side canyon, you can take a short side trail to an ephemeral waterfall which has carved out a beautiful room for you to relax in. As you head down the canyon, you will also begin to notice that water is suddenly present, as it bubbles out of the ground and cascades toward Whychus Creek.
Follow the springs down to Whychus to a beautiful grotto in the desert. Here, willows and Alder flourish and the sheer cliffs offer some shade from the relentless sun. There are some nice spots to kick back along the stream banks and soak your feet while you have a little snack if you choose. If you feel up for a little more, the trail continues on the other side of the creek and descends all the way to the Deschutes. You can find a more detailed description of that trail here. Just remember that you are hiking down a canyon, so every step you move forward will be one that will be uphill on the way back.
From Highway 97, north of Redmond and Terrebonne, turn left onto Lower Bridge Road towards Crooked River Ranch. After traveling a little over 10 miles on Lower Bridge Road, make a left onto Holmes Road. It will be another 1.7 miles before making a right onto Forest Road 6360. There is a gate on this road that is locked from December 1st through March 31st to help protect deer winter range.
Continue down forest road 6360 for five miles and then make a right onto service road 040 and continue for another mile before reaching the trailhead. Both forest service roads are extremely bumpy and rocky and a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
Passes: No passes required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Trail is open all year, but roaded is gated 3 miles from trailhead from December 1st through March 31st to protect deer winter range.
Hazards: Rattlesnakes are present between late spring and early fall and ticks may also be lurking during the spring and early summer.