Big Indian Gorge

Burns, Oregon 97720

Big Indian Gorge

Big Indian Gorge Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The most visually stunning of the accessible gorges in the Steens Mountain area. Home to a wonderful campsite among cottonwood trees. Longer option to headwall.

The gorges of the Steens Mountain region are among its most defining characteristics. Carved by snow and glaciers, these massive chasms are 2,000 feet deep and over time have become incubators for trees, wildlife, and even a few small trout. Big Indian is the most impressive of the accessible gorges and popular among hikers, backpackers, and equestrians. Those seeking an easy day hike often stop at a large rock that provides an impressive view into the canyon, while backpackers head for Cottonwood Camp.

Adventure seekers occasionally travel all the way to the canyon’s headwall, where hidden waterfalls can be found. Some even scramble 2,000 feet up the headwall cliffs into Wildhorse Lake basin."

More Big Indian Gorge Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes in Oregon (The Mountaineers Books)
Douglas Lorain
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"During the last ice age, the climate of southeastern Oregon was wetter than it is today, so much more snow fell on places like Steens Mountain. This snowfall compacted into huge glaciers that carved deep, U-shaped gorges into the mountain’s flanks. Although this process took place on other mountains, Steens Mountain may be the best place in the country to observe the ice’s handiwork, because there are no forests here to hide the evidence. Looking down these enormous gorges from above is awe-inspiring, but to truly appreciate these geologic marvels you have to hike along the bottom. Of the mountain’s seven glacial gorges, the most accessible and dramatic is Big Indian Gorge. Note: In June, call ahead to check on the feasibility of three major stream crossings." Read more
Hiking Southern Oregon (Falcon Guides)
Art Bernstein and Zach Urness
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"The most visually stunning of the accessible gorges in the Steens Mountain area. Home to a wonderful campsite among cottonwood trees. Longer option to headwall. The gorges of the Steens Mountain region are among its most defining characteristics. Carved by snow and glaciers, these massive chasms are 2,000 feet deep and over time have become incubators for trees, wildlife, and even a few small trout. Big Indian is the most impressive of the accessible gorges and popular among hikers, backpackers, and equestrians." Read more

Big Indian Gorge Reviews

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8/4/2018
This is beautiful wilderness, remote and rugged. Big Indian Gorge is a very strenuous trail for a day hike, but very doable as a backpacking trip. The incline is steady and gradual. The first part of the trail is rocky and exposed but after a few miles the trail dips into a shady patch, some forest groves, and grows denser with sage brush. There are many campsites--we camped at Cottonwood Camp. The area is managed by the BLM, so its a good idea to check in to see how the conditions are.
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Big Indian Gorge Photos

Trail Information

Burns
Nearby City
13
Distance
1,660 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Difficult
Skill Level
5-9 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
Camping
Additional Use
Waterfalls, Views
Features
BLM Burns District Office: (541) 573-4400; Frenchglen Historic Hotel: (541) 493-2825
Local Contacts
USGS Fish Lake; BLM Burns District (south); Steens High Desert Country
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018