Finding Whychus Creek

Oct 22, 2014
A man recently stopped a Land Trust staff member on the street for directions. “Where exactly is Whychus Creek?” he asked.


A man recently stopped a Land Trust staff member on the street for directions. “Where exactly is Whychus Creek?” he asked.

He learned that Whychus Creek flows from glaciers in the Three Sisters mountains through the town of Sisters and past Whychus Canyon Preserve to meet up with the Deschutes River. He learned that Whychus Creek used to be called Squaw Creek.

“Oh,” he responded, pondering this information. “I thought it was a whole new creek.”

Whychus Creek has been here for millenia, making its way from iconic Cascade peaks through pine forests, slowing to meander through green meadows, and carving through rimrock canyons. It’s the same creek upon which Native American tribes relied for sustenance.

But, in many ways, Whychus Creek is a new creek. After nearly 100 years when it ran dry during the summer season, Whychus Creek now has water year round. From a newly restored, meandering channel at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, to new, scenic trails at Whychus Canyon Preserve, many people are discovering Whychus Creek for the first time. Chinook salmon and steelhead are returning to its waters—a first in fifty years. It’s not the creek it was a decade ago.

Central Oregonians are beginning to recognize Whychus Creek as their own. It flows through the heart of Sisters, is as close to Bend as the Badlands, and can be accessed from Redmond in less than half an hour. It is a centerpiece for our community. It’s a place to come together to protect the best of Central Oregon for generations to come.

For nearly twenty years, the Land Trust has been working to conserve Whychus Creek. To date, the Land Trust has protected 2,200 acres of land along the creek and more than eight miles of the creek itself. These conserved lands have created an opportunity to restore Whychus Creek and revitalize its meadows and canyons. Our protected lands have bolstered water quality and created lush havens for plants and animals in an arid terrain.

The Land Trust has built several miles of trails and a program of free, guided hikes. The trails at Whychus Canyon Preserve provide the main public access to the Creek between Sisters and Alder Springs and create opportunities for recreation and connection to place. This has helped build awareness of the value of Whychus Creek—a magnificent creek important for the wildlife, scenic views, and the people of our region.

Like the man asking for directions, more and more people are finding Whychus Creek. If you’re stopped and asked about the Creek, will you tell its story? Will you speak for Whychus Creek?

Learn more about our Campaign for Whychus Creek.