Ditch Creek Guard Station, located about 27 miles southeast of Heppner, Oregon, is a comfortable little cabin that accommodates six overnight guests, plus additional guests camped in a tent outside. Equestrian campers are welcome and a corral with trough is provided.
The guard station was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s. It is a classic example of forest building structures of that era and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. It was used by forest fireguards who would ride their horse deep into the forest’s interior to look for wisps of smoke from lightning strikes or check on communications lines along the Forest Service roads. It became a recreation rental in 1997.
The route to the cabin is located off the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway, which boasts incredible views. Over 26 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, ranging between 4,100 and 5,300 elevation, traverse forests and meadows throughout the Heppner Ranger District. Fishing opportunities abound in nearby streams, Penland Lake and Bull Prairie Lake. Other activities include hunting for deer and elk, mushroom and berry picking, wildlife viewing and enjoying the scenic landscape.
The cabin is a one-story building containing a bedroom, living room, kitchen with nook and a bathroom. The cabin does not meet accessibility standards due to narrow doorways and halls. A picnic table, campfire ring and a 20′ X 20′ horse corral with water trough are located outside. Guests may pitch tents in the yard for additional sleeping options.
Two bunk beds, a dresser, and a chair are in the bedroom, and the living room has a futon, loveseat, side table, a dining table with four chairs, and a heating stove. A cook stove, fire extinguisher, cookware, silverware and dishes are included in the kitchen. All appliances and lighting are propane, which is provided by the Forest Service.
Potable water is available. Guests must bring food, bedding, toiletries, matches, a flashlight, first aid kit and similar camping gear. Cleaning supplies are provided in a closet by the door and guests are expected to clean the cabin before they leave. Click here for more cabin details.
The cabin sits near Ditch Creek on a large, flat lawn surrounded by a dense pine forest at an elevation of 4,800 feet. The creek is one of numerous small perennial streams that flow south into the North Fork John Day River. There is a small pond adjacent that is also stocked with fish.
Deer and elk are likely to be seen in the area, and as evening falls, guests can watch bats flit and swoop above the yard.
The nearest town with a general store is in Heppner, a 40-minute drive away, although ice and some food options are available at the Morrow County OHV park 14 miles away.From Lexington, OR, take Highway 74/207 east to Heppner. At the junction just outside the southern edge of Heppner, take a left (east) on paved Willow Creek Road. Travel 23 miles past Willow Creek Lake, Cutsforth County Park and up Coalmine Hill. At the top of the hill, take a right (west) on Forest Service Road 21 (a gravel road) and travel 3.5 miles. The cabin is located on a hill on the north side of the road and is accessed by two short entrance roads (Forest Service Road 050 and 051).541-676-9187N