I visited The Tam-a-lau loop in the fall of 2022. I don’t think I would venture onto it in the blasting summer months unless it was a very early morning or late evening thing. It isn’t one of those hikes that people rave about doing. I would say that it is a good locals hike. If you have traveled from across the country to see monkey face, or head over to the coast, I wouldn’t tell you to go out of your way for this hike. If you live in Central Oregon and are looking for a nice stroll with a bit of a climb, Tam will do.
Here are the directions to the trailhead from Redmond. It’s not far so it can be a quick day hike. I think it will become a spring/fall trail run for me.
It starts at the Lake Billy Chinook parking lot. You will cross the highway and right away start the climbing portion of the trail. It’s not much of a climb but it is enjoyable. I like how the trail traverses some steeper sections. It adds a bit of adventure to this otherwise vanilla hike. There are some good overlook areas on the way up that will make some good pictures. When I went in the morning, I was all alone until making my way back down off the peninsula. I enjoyed how it felt remote. Being outside alone is very different than being alone indoors. All the comforts of life, the technology and the distractions invade and suffocate the opportunity that being alone creates. It defeats the purpose. Quality time spent with oneself in the outdoors is exhilarating, and Tam-a-lau is just enough off the beaten path to let you have it.
Once you get to the top, you get to choose the direction to make the loop. I went clockwise. I like the views as you go around. Very vast, rugged country. I will say the only weird part is the color of the lake. It is the greenest lake I have ever seen. It doesn’t bring up thoughts of fresh and clean. It makes me think more of pond scum. I sure wouldn’t want to drink the stuff. I will go so far as to say that even Tanka would filter this water. No little taste of beaver from this lake. The putrid looking lake does bring the enjoyment factor down a bit. Who wants to go out in nature and end up thinking about raw sewage? Other than that, the views are good.
As you make your way around, you will walk above shear cliffs. Peering over the edges is fun. The top of the peninsula is your sagebrush, dusty, Oregon desert trail. The runner in me really wanted to open up the throttle and let her go. I did jog some but had decided that this would be more a hike than a run to let my body get a break from the miles I had put on it. I will be back to run this loop for sure. Tam-a-Loop is like a little misery ridge. Even though it is two miles longer, it isn’t as steep and is a much shorter climb. You will have more breathing room compared to misery.
I accomplished the loop and headed down to the parking lot. I started running into a few groups climbing up. You can guess the demographic. Older folks or parents with younger children. I thought that this is a perfect trail for these folks. You can get it done in a few hours. It is easy enough that it lends itself to conversation. It’s a social trail.
The Tam-a-lau loop trail is a good central Oregon hike. It’s six and a half miles long with 800 feet of elevation gain. I think it is perfect for Spring or Fall. I will be using it as a training loop in the future when I want a little more seclusion than Smith Rock State park offers. Here are few pictures of my trip to this nice trail.
A cool rock you will encounter before crossing the highway. Fun to climb on.
You can see the trail criss-crossing up the hill.
These steps are similar to the ones you will find on the Misery Ridge trail at Smith Rock
One of the overlooks. A picture of someone from this vantage point would look good.
At the top of the climb you will find this fork in the road. Either way will bring back to here.
Good views of the rocks and nasty water