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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Desert trail will showcase an often unseen Oregon [Seattle Times]

TROUT CREEK MOUNTAINS, Ore. —
Stars sparkle like jewels in the night sky over the Oregon desert, the vast southeastern landscape that makes up a quarter of the state.
Jewels are evident by day, too, from Hart Mountain's rich wildlife habitat to the Owyhee River's colorful canyons. These special settings, rough on the edges but so rewarding for those who love them, may soon be connected by a trail.
And not just any trail.
The Oregon Desert Trail will be 750 miles long, a nonmotorized route for hikers, horseback riders and, in part, for cyclists. A mapped trail, with water holes, campsites and waypoints identified, will entice more visitors to learn about, to enjoy and to care for this expansive part of the state.
The trail's route has been scouted the past two summers by staff and volunteers from the Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association.
When the project comes to fruition, perhaps within a year or two, Oregon's desert jewels will be linked by a continuous corridor on public land. An actual trail, like one in a forest, need not be built because the route will link existing tracks with cross-country travel across open terrain.
The trail will extend from near Bend to near Idaho, with a southward dip almost to the Nevada border.

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