Fishing, Kayaking, Hiking and Relaxing at the House on Metolius
By Amy Whitley
As an outdoors-loving Oregonian, it shames me to admit that until spending a long weekend hiking and fishing from its shores, I had never heard of the Metolius River or the resort property that shares its name, the House on Metolius.
Often overshadowed by the mighty Deschutes River, the Metolius River winds through the small community of Camp Sherman deep into the Deschutes National Forest north of Sisters and Bend. Unless you’re an avid fly fisherman or woman, you may not have been introduced to this region of Central Oregon, either.
I set out to explore the Metolius with my husband and three school-aged kids on a crisp fall Friday. We had reserved one of five river-view cabins (lodge rooms are also available) at the House on Metolius, and found the two-bedroom Gorge Cabin awaiting us upon arrival with a key under the mat and firewood stacked by the door.
The kids quickly ran off to explore the over 200 private acres of the House on Metolius property while my husband and I readied our fishing gear. The first section of the Metolius River is reserved for fly fishing only, so we made a stop at the friendly Camp Sherman Store and Fly Shop for rental poles, a fishing license, and some flies.
Located a few miles from House on Metolius toward the junction at Highway 20, this camp store has just about everything: from an impressive bottled wine selection to penny candy. We fished the afternoon away mere steps from our cabin door: the chilly water of the Metolius River was so clear, even our youngest could spot the rainbow trout swimming in impressive numbers beneath the surface. We caught and released several before returning to the Gorge Cabin to prepare dinner in our full-sized kitchen and enjoy a lively game of Monopoly by the fire.
The next morning, we set out early for a kayak trip with Wanderlust Tours in Bend (approximately 45 minutes away by car). Their van transportation drove us past Mt. Bachelor to Cascade Lakes, where guides Courtney and Chris took our small group of eight kayakers on a tour of the high mountain waters. Autumn fog and a misty rain fell as ducks, fish, and plant species presented themselves on the still, quiet lake.
Back at House on Metolius, the kids played croquet on the wide lawn behind the main lodge while I ducked into the cozy sitting room for a cup of coffee. (A complimentary continental breakfast is offered to lodge guests, and the dining room is open for dinner by reservation most nights.)
In the late afternoon, we all set out from the lodge property for a 2.7-mile hike along the Metolius River to Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. The kids loved feeding the fish (bring quarters for their fish food machines) and learning about the species who populate the Metolius. If you prefer a more strenuous hike, the trailhead to ascend Black Butte is a short car ride away.
Before dusk fell, the diehard fishermen among us (my husband and 13-year-old son) set back out to try their luck. When they returned victorious, we ate my son’s first keeper for dinner. We set more logs on the fire and all went to bed early: all that fresh mountain air did wonders for our sleep!
On our final morning, we enjoyed a few more hours of fishing and playing in and around the creeks winding through the adjacent meadow before saying goodbye to the House on Metolius. We made one last stop at the Camp Sherman Store for necessary supplies — Sisters Coffee Company lattes and doughnuts — before making the drive home.
If You Go:
Reservations can be made at House on Metolius online or by phone. Because each cabin is different, we suggest talking to the helpful manager, Jade Schlesinger, to decide what accommodations are best for your party.
We were content to make our meals in our cabin, but should you want to dine out, Sisters is only 15 minutes away. We recommend Three Creeks Brewing for a gourmet-pub atmosphere, followed by a flick at Sisters Movie House, located next door.
While much of the Metolius is reserved for fly fishing, bait/reel fishing is permissible past the Lower Bridge approximately seven miles from the House on Metolius. Pick up a map of the river at the Camp Sherman Store and Fly Shop.
Wanderlust Tours can be reached at (800) 962-2862, and offers cave tours, moonlight canoe tours, and brew tours in addition to kayaking. For more fishing and hiking information, the Metolius River Association is a good resource.
From Sisters, Camp Sherman and the Metolius River area is located off Highway 20 on National Forest Road 1216/Sherman Road. From there, guests of the House of Metolius should use the directions emailed to them upon their reservation: a GPS will not get you far! The House on Metolius is private, and is only accessed by guests via a locked gate with code (provided).
Amy Whitley is a freelance travel writer, lover of the outdoors, and editor of family travel website Pit Stops for Kids. She makes her home with her husband and three kids in Southern Oregon. She will be writing a new column, Northwest Kids, for Outdoors NW in 2013.