If you’re looking for a chance to escape the crowds and permits required to hike in the Cascades, a quick escape into the Ochocos may be just what that grumpy loner inside you ordered. In this ancient and eroded mountain range east of Prineville, you won’t have to worry about slalomming through other hikers like your strolling down a big city sidewalk or having other people’s dogs trying to hump or kill your dog while they yell “Fido, get over here!! I don’t know why he’s not listening!! He’s never like this!!” Yes, a break to the Ochocos can help to restore some of that connection with nature that hiking is supposed to do. And the Giddy-Up Go Loop located adjacent to the Dry Creek horse camp is probably even more isolating then most.
The Giddy-Up Go Loop is actually a horse trail, but because of the lack of water at the Dry Creek Horse Camp and its location away from more of the high profile sites in the Ochocos, it is unlikely you will see another soul on this trail. That being said, it is not the easiest trail to follow either.
Begin the hike at the Giddy-Up Go Trailhead, which is actually a wide spot in the road right next to the Dry Creek horse camp. The trail begins by dropping down towards Dry Creek and can be kind of hard to find. But just make your way across the creek and you will quickly come to a road and there will be some signs nailed to a tree indicating the trail on the far side of the road. From here the trail becomes much easier to follow. It climbs steadily through the pines as it gains over 1200 feet in the next 2 plus miles. There is also a cool, broken down cabin to check out about a mile into this climb. About a mile past that, you will reach a viewpoint where you can enjoy some specular views of Steins Pillar from across Mill Creek valley.
A little way past the viewpoint, you will begin to turn to the east as you slowly traverse and make your way down a ridgeline. This is where things can kind of get confusing because nothing is marked and it seems like there are different trails all over the place. Just stay on the trail that seems the most traveled and wait until you encounter a two-track round heading southerly. The trail will continue on the two-track for a little less than half a mile before splitting off to your right. It will then traverse its way down a draw an intesect with a forest road and the tie-in trail.
If you would like to cut a couple miles off your loop, you can follow the tie-in trail down Dry Creek and back to the trailhead. The total length of the trail from this point is 1.5 miles and there are some cool rock formations along the valley. However, if you would like to do the entire trail, head west on the forest road.
You will reamin on the road for 3/4 of a mile. This road is open and occasionally traveled, so keep your eyes peeled for vehicles. Watch for the trail to leave the road near a big bend to the right. The trail will dive off the left side of the road here. This section of trail is pretty well marked with white and yellow diamonds nailed to the trees.
Once back on the trail, you will traverse the mountainside for about half a mile. There are some more cool rock feautres here and an occasional view openning up to the east. Following this, you will make the final descent back down to the trailhead. You will work your way down a series of draws full of some very impressive Ponderosa Pines for the next mile, before popping out on another road. It only about a quater mile along this road before the trail leaves off to the left. Then, it is an easy 3/4 of a mile along a dry streambed (most of the year) and back to your vehcile.
From Prineville, take Highway 26 east of town for about 7 miles and turn left onto Mill Creek Road, towards Wildcat Campground, at the east end of Ochoco Reservoir. Continue down Mill Creek Road for 5 miles until the pavement ends, where you will want to make a left onto Forest Road 3370. Keep bearing right on this road for about 3 miles and then make a left onto road 3370-200. The horse camp will be right there on your left and the trailhead on your right.
Passes: No passes required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: The area is closed for deer winter range from December 1st through April 30th.