Kim McCarrel has been an avid trail rider for over 20 years, and has ridden horse trails all over the Northwest. She is the author of the NW Horse Trails guidebooks, which cover Central, Northwest, and Southern Oregon, as well as Southwest Washington. Kim’s newest book, published in February 2017, is Riding the Metolius-Windigo Trail. Kim produces a weekly blog about the horse trails of the Pacific Northwest. See nwhorsetrails.com. Kim resides in Bend, Oregon with her husband Steve, two Portuguese Water Dogs, and her two Tennessee Walker mares, Jane and Tex.
Exploring the Metolius Basin from Lake Creek Lodge
As a longtime Central Oregon resident and horse enthusiast, I’ve done some fabulous riding in the Metolius Basin. I’ve camped with my horse many times at Sheep Springs Horse Camp, about 8 miles from Camp Sherman. Horse camping is great fun, but after a couple of days, you sure do miss having a hot shower.
So, when I learned that the Camp Sherman resort Lake Creek Lodge had added equestrian facilities, I had to check it out. The idea of riding my horse all day and then returning to a nice resort, staying in a charming cabin, taking hot showers, sleeping in a real bed, and enjoying chef-prepared meals while my horse relaxed nearby in a sturdy corral—well, that was positively tantalizing! I called my friend, Debbie, and we made a reservation.
We arrived at the Lodge the morning of our reservation, parked our trailers next to the horse corrals and saddled up. The nearby trail network travels beneath majestic ponderosa pines to the Metolius River, which gushes out of huge springs about a mile upstream from the trail’s river crossing. The trails also connect with the Metolius-Windigo Trail, a 150-mile trail that passes just 0.6 mile from the Lodge. All are open to horses, and you can also ride cross-country. When you stay at Lake Creek Lodge, the riding is practically unlimited.
After a beautiful ride, we came back to the Lodge and settled our horses in their sturdy steel pipe corrals and checked ourselves into our cabin. In addition to its cabins and restaurant, the Lodge offers a swimming pool, tennis courts, bicycles, a stocked trout pond, a big-screen TV, and a game room with a pool table, ping-pong, and foosball. Plus, the Metolius River offers world-class fly-fishing nearby. If you stay at Lake Creek Lodge with non-riding family members, they’ll be having so much fun that they’ll hardly notice you’ve gone riding.
Our cabin, situated on the bank of meandering Lake Creek, had a fun 1940s-vintage feeling despite its modern conveniences. It featured a knotty pine kitchen (complete with a microwave, coffee maker, dishes, and silverware), an inviting living room, two bedrooms with a shared bathroom, a screened sleeping porch, a gas barbecue, and a deck where we could sit and watch the creek flow by.
At the appointed hour for dinner, we headed to the Lodge restaurant. In summer, guests may enjoy dinner on the patio, but since we were there on a chilly spring day, we opted to eat in the dining room. Our first course was a tasty salad of greens, blueberries, strawberries, and feta, drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette. Next came tender parmesan chicken on a bed of house-made fettuccine. And for dessert, a pear poached in red wine. The food was delicious, and the portions were large. Nobody goes home hungry after a dinner at Lake Creek Lodge!
The next morning, we enjoyed the Lodge’s brunch menu, which features everything from eggs Benedict to sandwiches. I couldn’t stop exclaiming as I enjoyed my hash browns: crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they were the best hash browns I’ve ever eaten.
After breakfast, we went out for another ride. This time our friend Laurie, who lives nearby, joined us. We traveled a 5-mile loop that took us across the Metolius River and along its bank, past a neat row of summer homes, to the Camp Sherman Store. The store, a local landmark, has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Where else can you enjoy a gourmet sandwich, beer, or ice cream, and pick up a souvenir t-shirt while you’re on a horseback ride?
We left the store, crossed the river on the road bridge, skirted around the north side of the tiny community of Camp Sherman, then linked up with the Metolius-Windigo Trail for the return leg of our loop.
We arrived at the Lake Creek Lodge corrals and began unsaddling the horses and stowing our gear for the trip home. Debbie walked around the corner of her trailer, bridle in hand, and said wistfully, “We should stay a few more days. I’m not ready to go home yet!”
Not to worry, Debbie. We’ll be back!
Lake Creek Lodge cabins range from $180 to $385 per night, double occupancy, and horse corrals are $40 per horse. Minimum 2-night stay on weekends, and 3-night stay during the summer season. For reservations call 1-800-797-6331.