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Hike the Crooked River Rim Trail

Crooked River Rim Trail

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Distance: 2.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 200 feet.

The Crooked River Rim Trail in Cove Palisades State Park will allow you to stand on the rim of the Crooked River Arm of Lake Billy Chinook and gaze across the tranquil waters to the looming cascades behind it. While the hike itself isn’t anything to write home about, the views are extraordinarily and if you happen to be in the area, this short little jaunt is a great opportunity to stretch your legs.

The trail begins right at the gate to the Crooked River campground in the state park. Follow the signs and head out dead ahead. Soon, you will find yourself paralleling the road, but a little ways down slope, as you head up the draw. After about 0.3 miles, you will cross over the road and turn back towards the lake.

Things start to get a little more interesting once you pass over the road. You start heading towards rimrock cliffs and the cascades become visible in the distance. All the while, the trail continues to climb, slowly but steadily. Weave your way around some rock outcrops and then cut back through a couple of switchbacks and you will find yourself on the canyon rim in no time.

Once on the rim, the views open up. The trail plods along near the cliffs, but not too close. There are several side trails you can take to get you right up to the cliffs edge if you want. The Crooked River Arm of Lake Billy Chinook, which is formed by the Round Butte Dam, which was constructed just downstream of the confluences of the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius Rivers, stretches out beneath you. The Island is also visible, straight across the reservoir. The island is a peninsular plateau that is isolated by vertical cliffs on three sides. Because of this, it has only been graved one season that that was over 100 years ago. This has yielded some of the last remaining undisturbed communities of juniper, sagebrush, bluebunch wheatgrass, and bitterbrush. The area is closed to the public, but you can look at it from here and image running your hands through the stands of grass…

The trail runs for about a quarter mile along the canyon rim. You can see all the mountains ranging from the Three Sisters to Mt Hood along the trail. As you approach the end, the trail, it will take you out to a nice viewpoint overlooking the reservoir. From here, you can see the trail does keep going, but you can also see the parking lot it leads too. This is the best view, so feel free to make it your turn around point. Unless you’ve arranged a shuttle. And if you are shuttling a one mile hike, you are boss.


From Highway 97, make your way towards Culver between Redmond and Madras. From Culver there are numerous signs directing you to the Cove Palisades State Park. From the south end of town, take Iris Lane west for 1 mile until reach Feather Dr. Make a right onto Feather Drive and drive for 1.2 miles. Then, make a left on Fisch Lane and continue for half a mile before making another right on Frazier Drive. A half mile down Frazier drive, make a left onto Peck Road right in front of the Cove Corner Store. Follow SW Peck Road, which turns into Jordan Road, for one miles as it winds its way down the canyon and then make a left towards the Crooked River Campground. Head towards the guard station and the parking area will be just to the left of it.

Things to Know

Passes: There is a $5 day use fee for this trailhead.

Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash

Usage: Light

Open Season: Area is open year round. Don't be surprised if the trail is a little muddy in the winter and this area can get brutally hot in the summer and there is little shade.

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