The ODT continues following the Fremont National Recreation Trail north to Vee Lake Campground, and then follows two-track roads and cross-country sections to Abert Rim and Colvin Timbers. The trail transitions from mixed conifer forest to open sage and juniper, and finally into the isolated pine forest of Colvin Timbers. Water is plentiful along the Fremont National Recreation Trail, and there are a few water sources along or near the trail as it heads north on Abert Rim. The maintained trail climbs for most of this section, and the rocky cross-country terrain on Abert Rim can be tiring, but the views are worth it! This section would be great to explore as soon as the snow melts in late spring. There is a sign shortly after the Mill Trailhead notifying visitors that the trail is open from June to October, but according to the Forest Service, this closure is more a warning about early season conditions such as snow and downed trees.
Need to Know
For more info and to download ALL of the waypoints for the ODT, visit ONDA.org
Where the gravel Deter Ranch Road turns east from Highway 395 (WB111, see photo) the ODT follows signs to the vehicle pullout at Mill Trailhead (WB113, start of water access at creek). From here the Fremont National Recreation Trail #160 heads to Vee Lake, some 18 miles north. The trail follows Crooked Creek, first as an old roadbed, then transitioning to single-wide trail. National Recreation Trail markers and cairns at creek crossings make this a very easy trail to follow. Near WB118 (last reliable creek water until Swale Creek) the trail comes to an intersection, and the ODT continues uphill and east to cross the gravel Forest Service 3615 road at the South Crooked Creek Trailhead (WB119).
Here the ODT follows the trail toward Swale Trailhead and Vee Lake to the north. The trail climbs through forest and open meadows along the slopes of Twelvemile, McDowell, and Crook peaks (see photo). Hanks Spring (WB122; murky water September 2011 and June 2013) is tucked into some dead pine trees on Twelvemiles north slope. As the trail goes along Crook Peaks east slope there are terrific views of the Coyote Hills and Hart Mountain to the north and east. The trail descends to the beginnings of First Swale Creek (WB125, creek water here) just before crossing a gravel road to the Swale Trailhead (WB126).
The trailhead itself is set back from the main gravel road, and the trail continues north above the First Swale Creek drainage and soon enters an area that was burned in a fire a few years back, which left many blown down trees across the trail. Through this area the trail tread can be hard to find, but in 2012 the Forest Service had marked the trail with orange flagging. After crossing two dirt roads (WB127 and WB128) the trail descends to cross Honey Creek (WB129), where exposed lava walls create a beautiful little canyon. After climbing away from the creek to the north, the trail passes through pine forest regrowth on an old roadbed, and there is a good view of the Fort Warner site to the southeast (see inset). The trail winds to the west and passes a marshy area and later several large rock cairns that lead to the south end of Vee Lake (WB131, see photo). After traveling around the east side of the lake the trail arrives at the small Vee Lake Campground (WB132; two free sites, pit toilet).
The ODT takes the brushy two-track road west from Vee Lake (WB133) until just after it crosses Little Honey Creek and turns north on a decommissioned road (WB135, creek water here). After about a quarter mile on this old road, the ODT turns west and heads cross-country uphill through thick forest to reach another overgrown two-track road at the edge of a large meadow (WB137). Heading northwest around this meadow, the ODT turns north and crosses a small creek (last reliable water until sources near Colvin Timbers) just before merging with a more defined two-track road at WB138. The ODT takes this road to the northwest, crosses Forest Road 3615 (WB139), and continues cross-country north-northwest through pine forest that soon opens up into sage and bunchgrass.
While one may want to head immediately to the rim for views, the ODT stays just east of the rim until WB141 to avoid the thick stands of mahogany. The trail crosses a barbed wire fence at WB140, and does pass through some mahogany after reaching the rim at WB141, but from there north the views get better and better. There are some cairns along this stretch of cross-country. The ODT crosses another barbed wire fence at WB143, and then reaches a prominent point (WB144) where there are amazing views of Lake Abert to the north, Hart Mountain to the east, the Warner Mountains to the south, and the Chewaucan Valley to the west. Here the ODT turns east and descends gently past a grove of aspen to meet up with a two-track road near Priday Lake (WB145; warm, semi-clear, marginal water July 2012). The ODT follows this two-track less than a mile to the north to Colvin Timbers (WB146; see inset).
Shared By: Renee Patrick