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Bring a good map and your own water

Hiking in the high desert of southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho offers remote vistas and quiet sagebrush flats where the only thing you'll hear is the call of a meadowlark.

You won't find plug-in campgrounds, visitor centers selling T-shirts or detailed hiking trails with signs.

You're on your own, but the solitude is worth it.

"Hiking in the Owyhees isn't like hiking anyplace else," says John Robison, public lands director of the Idaho Conservation League.

"Many people hike to get away from it all, but this is meant literally in the Owyhees," he says. "You won't see any crowds."

Here are a few tips for places in this much-overlooked corner of Oregon and Idaho.

1. Bruneau Canyon Overlook

What: The Bruneau River has been cutting a path through the 1,000-foot-deep Idaho canyon for 2 million years. Take a look at the canyon from the overlook.

Rating: An easy walk to the rim overlooking the canyon. You can make your hike more strenuous by taking off south through the sagebrush along the rim.

Notes: No restrooms or water. Watch your step near the overlook. Keep your dogs and kids close.

Getting there: Find the One Stop Café in Bruneau, Ida., and go east on Hot Springs Road for 15.6 miles; turn right at the Bruneau Canyon Overlook sign and go about 3.7 miles.

2. Owyhee Byway

What: The Owyhee National Backcountry Byway is a gravel road that runs more than 100 miles from Jordan Valley, Ore., to Grand View, Ida. It offers many places to stop and head out across the desert.

Rating: Short hikes off the road can be easy.

Notes: Make this a two-day trip. The North Fork of the Owyhee River Campground, which is along the way, is a good place to camp and hike.

Getting there: Jordan Valley is 450 miles east of Medford, 137 miles southeast of Burns.

3. Three Forks

What: This is the confluence of the three forks of the Owyhee River. It is a remote campground, but near one of the best hot springs around.

Rating: Hikes can be short and easy off the main road, but they're more strenuous if you go cross-country.

Notes: There's a campground, but bring your own water.

Getting there: From Jordan Valley, go 16 miles southwest on U.S. 95, then 35 miles south and follow the signs on Lower Soldier Creek Road. You also can get to Three Forks off the Owyhee Byway.

4. Jordan Craters

What: Jordan Craters, in the southeast corner of Malheur County, is a giant field of black lava rock 2 miles wide and about 5 miles long with a highlighted feature called Coffee Pot Crater.

Rating: You can take an easy stroll on the lava rock or make it as strenuous as you want.

Notes: There is undeveloped camping along the Jordan Craters Road as long as you are on public land. Bring your own water.

Getting there: Follow Highway 95, 9 miles north of Jordan Valley. Watch for the Jordan Craters sign between mile markers 12 and 13. It's about 26 miles from U.S. 95 to the craters on gravel and dirt roads, which can be rough.

5. Leslie Gulch

What: Leslie Gulch is a canyonlands adventure in Malheur County that's fairly easy to get to for a weekend campout or a day trip. It has lots of hiking up side canyons with amazing scenery and geology.

Rating: You can take fairly short hikes up the side canyons, which are right off the road.

Notes: There is a BLM campground in the area, but bring your own water.

Getting there: Follow Highway 95 South 59 miles out of Ontario to the Leslie Gulch turnoff, then turn west on a dirt road and follow the Leslie Gulch signs for about 25 miles.

6. Succor Creek

What: This is an excellent spring hiking area in a deep canyon. You'll see lots of interesting rock formations.

Rating: There's a lot of cross-country hiking for those looking for a strenuous adventure and short strolls for families.

Notes: It is a good place for a weekend campout in Succor Creek State Park, but it is primitive. Bring your own water.

Getting there: Succor Creek State Park is off OR 201, 30 miles south of Nyssa.