If you’re hanging around Prineville and feel like stretching your legs, the short climb up to the Prineville Overlook in the Ochoco Wayside State Park might be just what you need to burn off that 16 oz prime rib I’m sure you’re enjoying. Start your hike from the wide spot on the road right at the junction of Highway 126 and the O’Neil Highway. The trail begins on the far side of the road. Just be careful crossing because people can whip onto the highway pretty fast and probably aren’t expecting to find a couple of Gore-Tex wearing fools and their dog standing in the middle of the road.
Once you cross the road, the trail begins climbing fairly steeply, ascending about 100 feet in the first 500 feet of trail. (That’s a 20% grade for you folk less inclined with the mathematical arts. I’m looking at you, my son). At this point, the trail appears to kind of split, but the main trail takes the lower path. You have to go down a little bit, but you can manage. You’re tough.
The trail parallels the O’Neil Highway for the first 1/3 of a mile or so as it traverses up the hill. Then, it will turn and begin climbing up a draw as it circles back to the Prineville Overlook. The path gets a little rockier here but it is nice to get away from the constant drone of the Les Schwab retread plant. Just continue up the draw and if you see any more trail splits, keep to the left and stay on what looks like a main trail and you will pop out in the overlook parking lot in no time. Head up to the edge and enjoy the expansive views of Prineville and the Ochocos. You can even see your car parked down below you, a mere 5-iron shot away.
To reach the “trailhead” for the Prineville Overlook trail, travel to Prineville and turn onto the O’Neil Highway just on the west side of town, before the bridge but at the bottom of the grade. You will see a wide gravel area on the northeast side of the road right at the intersection. Park there, cross the road, and you are on your way.
Passes: No passes required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Open year round.