Center Sights - Interpretive Trail System
Get exercise, get inspired, and get informed with a hike on over four miles of trails filled with picturesque views of the Blue Mountains, the original Oregon Trail ruts and sweeping vistas of valleys and mountains in all directions. Most of the trails are paved and accessible to visitors of all abilities to enjoy the views, interpretive signage, wildlife, and plants. Take water and wear sunblock, if planning on embarking on a hike of any distance; there are no drinking fountains or restrooms along the trails so please plan accordingly. There is a 370 foot elevation change between the base of the hill and the top. For everyone's safety smoking is not permitted on trails, and pets must be on a leash at all times.
Before setting off on the trails, take in the view from atop Flagstaff Hill and meander through the wagon encampment directly to the South of the upper parking lot. Take some time to step into the dusty shoes of the pioneers and think about the joys and hardships of the journey. Then try to pick out the original wagon ruts snaking their way across the valley to the Southeast.
For a short but fascinating hike, visitors can wind their way around the Interpretive Center on the 0.5 mile "Flagstaff Hill Loop." You can view remnants of the historic Flagstaff Gold Mine. In summer months gold panning demonstrations are scheduled at the gold sluice on this trail. Continue another two minutes down the trail to the stamp mill. Step inside to learn how gold was extracted from hard rock.
For more history and a grand view of the Baker Valley turn right on the way back up from the stamp mill, and onto the Panorama Point Trail. Filled with fragrant sagebrush, smatterings of delicate lupine, cheery yellow fleabane, phlox, and the occasional red flame of desert paintbrush, the 0.75 miles (one way) out to Panorama Point is well worth the walk. From the overlook look for Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, American Kestrels, and Ravens soaring through the sky.
To see the Oregon Trail wagon ruts either take the Mountain Ash Trail from Panorama Point Trail or descend the steep and rocky 0.8 mile Ascent Trail. The original Oregon Trail route is easily identified by a covered wagon and a stone marker placed there in 1906 by Ezra Meeker, a pioneer that years later retraced the Oregon Trail in an effort to preserve it. (Visitors short on time can also see the ruts via the Ruts Access Trail which is only 180 feet away off of Highway 86, with an automobile pullout located a mile west of the Interpretive Center main gate.)
Continue on around the Oregon Trail Ruts Loop and back up to the Interpretive Center via the Ascent or Mountain Ash Trail, or do some additional sightseeing on the Auburn Burnt River Spur Trail and Eagle Valley Railroad Grade Loop Trail. This is the best area to see Black-tailed Jackrabbits as well as Mountain Cottontails. Badger holes are also plentiful.
Hiking Trail Map
To view and download a copy of our hiking trail map (PDF), click here.