“This alpine trail checks all the boxes for a great day run or overnight excursion.
— Eric Ashley
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The Little Blitzen Gorge Trail is a perfect alpine trail brimming with wildlife, flowers, groves of aspen, and beautiful waterfalls, all making for a truly unique desert experience. As it travels through a deep gorge, the trail hugs the banks of the charming Little Blitzen River. The trail makes a great day run for the determined or a pleasant overnight trip.
The trail starts at the parking area near the turn for South Steens Campground and casually descends to reach the river crossing. With a little study and careful footwork, runners should be able to keep their feet dry. On the other side, turn to the right and parallel the river upstream as it meanders through the center of the glacier-carved valley.
The going can be faint and a bit brushy, but runners should make good progress to 4-Mile Camp, a backpacking spot with welcoming cottonwoods shading a streamside meadow. The pleasant clearing makes a good spot to pitch a tent or the turnaround point for a shorter run.
Farther up the valley, the trail forks at a rimrock knoll. The left fork splits to a steep scramble up to the Steens Mountain Loop Road above, and the main trail heads right along a faint path that ends upriver at a beautiful waterfall view and the end of the gorge.