Spring and Winter Access
Stevenson Benchmark, aka Oregon Canyon Mountains Highpoint is typically reached by driving a poor condition 4x4 only road about 30 miles into some of the most desolate country in all of Oregon. This road can usually be driven between June and October, for the rest of the year the Oregon Canyon Mountains South Ridge Route can be used as an alternative 2nd class path to summit that will give you a roundtrip 9+ mile hike with 2800 feet of elevation gain.
Most will elect for the drive up, this isn't the most desirable hiking destination in the region by any stretch of the imagination, but the hike does offer some nice views across to the Trout Creek Mountains in the west, the Santa Rosa Range to the southeast, and in the distance you will be able to see many other high desert ranges such as the Steens and Pine Forest Range. In the spring expect to see wildflowers and abundant wildlife.
Above: The south facing scarp of the Oregon Canyon Mountains seen from along the route. The unlevel horizon in this image is the Trout Creek Mountains Range, a north tilting fault block
This route requires a 4x4 vehicle also, but the roads aren't as treacherous as the drive up route, and you are spending far less time on roads that are 4x4 only. From the town of McDermitt, Nevada turn west on Cordero Mine Road which runs right along the Oregon-Nevada border. This is a paved road you will follow 4.5 miles to a signed gravel road on the right which is the Disaster Peak Road. Turn here following the windy Disaster Peak Road northwest into the foothills of the Oregon Canyon Mountains. Ignore turnoffs and travel 7.5 miles to the Archie Meyeres Ranch Road. Archie Meyers Ranch Road will turn off to the north, dropping down into Cottonwood Creek where it will ford across the stream then switchbacks up to the north.
Up to the stream crossing you could do the preceding drive in a sedan, its a well graded wide gravel road. Even driving through Cottonwood Creek isnt that challenging, its a gravel creek bottom you could likely drive through in most cars with good tires. Once you've turned on to Archie Meyers Ranch Road drive a little over 2.5 miles to a 4x4 path on the north side of the road. This turn off will be a couple hundred yards past Pinky Reservoir which will likely appear as more than a muddy little waterhole. edit Sept 2012: creek crossing is 4wd only. Depending on your vehicle you may need to start from here
Follow the 4x4 road up the hill towards Little Pinky Waterhole, the starting point for the ridgehike. This last little bit is less than a mile of driving. Along this 4x4 road you will come across one Y in the road, take the left fork here. The Lat/Long coordinates at the top of the page are for the trailhead area.
From Little Pinky Reservoir hike north to the top of a short bench at 6400 feet. From this bench you will see the South Ridges you will be climbing up to the summit plateau, nearly all of the routes elevation gain is here in the next two miles. Traveling directly north, climb atop the ridge to Point 7161 where you will see the summit area across several canyons to the north. Follow the narrow ridgeline northwest until it crests the 7600 foot mark and you have reached the first of several broad topped plateaus. This first one is lightly blanketed in Mountain Mahogany. Hike NNE towards a prominent false summit, recognizable by the narrow 4x4 road running along its west face. Once you have reached this false summit you will be able to see the true summit of Stevenson BM a little less than a mile away to the ENE.
Be sure to gas up in McDermitt, its not a long drive into the Oregon Canyon Mountains, but its always good to be on the safe side. Robust tires are a must as always when traveling in the high desert. Watch out for Rattlers later in the Spring.
Summit in the distance