71. Three Forks (Middle Owyhee Unit)
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 234-235.
What to Expect: Magnificent cliffs, scenic overlooks, pristine grasslands, historic military road, and a warm bath
Distance: 7-mile loop
Elevation Range: 3,900-4,800 feet
Drinking Water: Yes
Best Times: Summer, fall
USGS 7.5' Map: Three Forks
Oregon Map Starting Point: Jordan Valley
Drive 16 miles west on US 95 (southbound in the greater scheme). Turn south at milepost 36 and drive 41 miles to Three Forks. Park and camp at Three Forks.
Wade across the river (usually anytime after June) and hike the Military Grade (the steep and zigzagging old roadbed you noticed driving in) due west of Three Forks to the top of the river's west rim. Hike westerly across the flat to the head of Warm Springs Canyon. (Identify as many grasses as you can.) Catch the four- wheel-drive trail on the south side down and east to the two lovely pools at the mouth of Warm Springs Creek. Shade is available. Explore upstream to the source of Warm Springs Creek.
Don't get too intimate with the poison ivy and/or poison sumac that can be found at the water's edge.
After you've had your 95-degree-Fahrenheit bath, ford the Owyhee again and catch the old road grade northerly and uphill. This soon crosses a low divide into the Middle Fork Owyhee drainage. Continue northerly and wade the Middle Fork. You soon reach a bridge across the North Fork and are soon hack to your vehicle. If the mainstem Owyhee is too high to ford, you can reverse this hike and explore the hot springs on the opposite bank from Warm Springs Canyon. Several small rock-lined pools exist, as do some showers.