38. Smokey Creek
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. p. 170.
What to Expect: A very rugged, but highly scenic cross-county excursion
Distance: 4-10 miles round trip
Elevation Range: 2,650-6,987 feet
Best Times: Spring, summer, fall
USGS 7.5' Maps: Dayville, Aldrich Mountain North
Oregon Map Starting Point: Dayville
From Dayville, drive south up the South Fork John Day River Road 4.2 miles where the road crosses to the east bank of the South Fork John Day River (you've left the open valley and are going into the canyon). Continue south 0.5 mile to the intersection of a side road just south of the Smokey Creek crossing (unnamed). Drive (or park here if you don't like the road) east 0.2 mile and park at creek ford (Dayville quad).
Your hike is at least 2 and up to 5 miles one way. How long is up to you, and you don't need to choose now. If you do plan to do the summit of Aldrich Mountain (worth the view!), make it a backpack in the summer or early fall. The route is up the ridge southwest of Smokey Creek. From your camp, day hike to the summit. If you're too tired, turn around.
Proceed due south and steeply up the ridge to skirt the posted private property along Smokey Creek. Once on the ridge, walk southeast along 3768, 3603, Bottle Rock, 4363, 4905, and (Aldrich Mountain North quad) 5201. You're now entering forest for the final 2 miles to the summit of Aldrich Mountain.
Return the same way.
A shuttle alternative is to start at Aldrich Mountain Lookout and walk this route down (you could also do it uphill if you're nuts).
If you're lucky, quiet, and observant, you should see lots of big game.