Posted by: oregonhiker | July 21, 2014

South Sister

Don’t be fooled by the sign at the Trail head, the distance to the summit is 6 miles. What they don’t say is that it is also one mile up. If you want to climb a mountain this is a strenuous but non-technical climb.

Devil's Lake Trail Head

We started at the Devil’s Lake Trail head at 6 AM. If I were to do this again I would start earlier, one person we talked with had started at 4. Once above tree line the trail is very exposed and therefore could get very hot. I was a bit surprised at how many people were making the climb. On a midweek day we saw 30-40 other people.


The hike to the overlook for Moraine Lake was mostly in the forest and is continuously uphill.  This 1 ¾ mile stretch is a good test for the rest of the climb, if you have trouble with this section I would not recommend going much further. You could make a couple of nice loops here, one that we did not try is down the trail to Wickiup Plain and is about 3 ½ miles to the parking area.











This is Mortaine Lake and the reports that we got were that the water was very cold still, probably because it is filled from snow melt.





We hiked in Mid July and there were many stretches of the trail that were still snow covered. Traversing them was not a problem, but it did hide the trail making it hard to know for sure where to go.

The climb got progressively steeper and we moved from firm pumice sand to loose pumice and stones.


Along the way are regular signs of previous climbers. The views do get progressively more impressive.


In this photo you can see the trail running diagonally across the mountain from the right to the left, leading to a scramble up to Lewis Glacier just over the ridge in the middle.


In the center of this picture you can see the trail zigzagging up through the red pumice just to the left of the glacier. This section is really steep, but fortunately you are nearing the top.


Aside from the reward of having climbed a mountain the views from the top are spectacular.

Mt Batchelor

This photo is looking south with Mt Batchelor in the foreground, Sparks Lake is the large lake. Because of the haze you can’t really see the distant mountains in this photo but you could see Diamond Peak and Mt Thielsen.

Broken Top


Looking Southeast you down on Brokentop with two of the Green Lakes in the valley.

Middle and North Sisters

Looking north you can see the other two sisters, Mt Jefferson behind the North Sister, Mt Washington between them and I believe St Helens in the distance. If you look closely at the upper right you can see a forest fire.



The decent is not nearly as heart beating; however the loose footing makes it strenuous. I would strongly recommend trekking poles as they saved me several times from taking a tumble and you can relieve some of the strain on your legs.


Once down to the car I thought, well been there, done that. Now that the soreness has subsided I am starting the think that this should be an annual event.


Posted by: oregonhiker | November 3, 2013

Opal Creek – Jawbone Flats

Length: 7 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 200 Feet

Trail Surface: Gravel road and hiking trail

The hike to Jawbone Flats is a very unique opportunity to walk into an ancient wilderness with trees that are centuries old. The trail is on a well maintained road that is only used by the operators of the Ancient Forest Center. Within a few hundred feet you feel like you have stepped into a different world.

To get to the trailhead drive to Mehama on highway 22.  You will come to a flashing yellow light, this is the North Fork Rd, and you should see the North Fork restaurant on Hwy 22. Turn left/North; the trailhead is at the end of the road, approximately 20 miles. After 14 miles of pavement you will enter the Willamette National Forest and road turns to gravel, you are now on Forest Road 2209. After 1.5-2 miles you will see a turn-off on the right towards Three Pools/Shady Cove. Stay to the left on Forest Road 2209. Continue another 4 miles to the Opal Creek/Jawbone parking area.  When you park at the trailhead a Forest Service Parking permit is required. This permit can be purchased at the trailhead for $5 per day if you don’t have an annual permit.

The hike is a very easy day hike although we choose to stay at the Ancient Forest Center for a couple of nights.   If you spend the night the center hauls your gear to the cabins in a van so you only need to carry items you want for the hike in.

Opal Creek Trail

We spent two nights in one of the houses that are available to rent. The houses are rustic and very comfortable. While there we got to experience a bit of the wilderness experience. Electric power is provided by a Pelton Wheel hydro electric generation system and due to low river flows there were a number of power outages. With a gas stove for cooking and a woodstove for heat these didn’t cause us any problems. Each cabin has a bathroom including a shower with hot water.

Jawbone Flats

The scenic beauty alone is reason enough to visit Opal Creek.

Opal Pool

Ancient Forest

The forests have a wide variety of mushrooms, many of which are very delicious. Warning, if you don’t know for sure what a mushroom is don’t even consider eating them.

Coral Mushroom


The area was the home of both mining and logging operations and as a result there are lots of old relics lying around. It was fun to investigate these and imagine what it was like to live in the area back when it was thriving.

Old Trucks

Posted by: oregonhiker | September 13, 2013

Marion Lake Hike

A couple of friends and I did a day hike to Marion Lake.


We started at the Marion Lake Trailhead which is off of Highway 22. You are required to have a valid user pass which can be obtained at any Forest Service office. The first portion of the hike shown in red is 2 ¼ miles and climbs approximately 1000 feet. Since the trail quickly enters the Mt Jefferson Wilderness you are required to sign in at the trailhead and get a permit. There is no cost for this; it just provides the Forest Service with information on numbers of people in the wilderness. Our total roundtrip hike was 7 ½ miles and gained 1800 feet.

The trail snakes its way up through an old forest, not sure that it qualifies as old-growth, but there are some very large fir trees.  Many of the bigger trees, like the one below show the signs of a forest fire many years ago.

The first lake that you come to is Lake Ann.

Lake Ann

Then on to Marion Lake. The lake is sizeable and I have been told that the fishing can be very good, although we didn’t give it a try and couple guys we ran into said the fishing had been slow for them.

This is a shot from the bridge at the outlet which forms Marion Creek.


We decided to continue on up the trail to the Eight Lakes Basin. We ended at Jenny Lake where we had lunch. This section of the trail was 1 ½ miles and added an additional 800 feet of elevation gain.


Marion Lake

On the far side of Jenny Lake can be seen the damage done by the B&B forest fire that occurred in 2003. This was 12 years ago.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

In early September when we did the hike the Vine Maple was just beginning to turn color.

Vine Maple

Posted by: oregonhiker | August 30, 2013

Return to Collier Glacier

North Sister

North Sister

I made a second trip to the Collier Glacier, my first trip was made in 2010 and I was interested to see how much the glacier has receded in those three years. This trip rather than camping on a rock pile at the base of the glacier ice we camped at Minnie Scott Springs.

This is a popular camping spot on the west side of the Sisters with good reliable water. The view is not quite the same as being right in the Glacial Moraine, but the view up to the North Sister isn’t bad. Our camp is in the foreground in the trees. The camp is right on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) so it does get a fair amount of traffic.

My first reaction when I looked down from the Collier Overlook was that there has been significant change. Part of this was due to the lack of snow on the glacier which meant that the rock debris was more prominent.

Collier Glacier 2013

Collier Glacier 2013

Below is a picture that I took from the same spot in 2010. You can see that the ice has receded up the hill and many of the rock piles protrude further.

Collier Glacier 2010

Collier Glacier 2010

As a more concrete indication of how much the ice has receded, during our last trip we bored 3 meter holes down into the ice and inserted three one meter shafts into them. As we worked our way up the glacier we found many of the poles littering the landscape. At one location we were able to find the bottom shaft which meant that 2 meters of ice had melted from that section of the glacier.

This is a photo of a section of the auger we used to drill a new 3 meter hole with the end of the pipe just sticking out. This spot is just below the ice fall and the photo is looking northwest with Mt Washington and Three Finger Jack in the background.

Ice Auger

Ice Auger

I am always stuck by the violent past these areas endured with the rocks bent and cracked.

Twisted Rock

The hills in the background almost look like waves.

Hills to west

As evening began to set the mountains become silhouettes bathed in pink. The mountains left to right (south to north) are Mt Washington, Three Finger Jack and Mt Jefferson.

Mountains at sunset

The sun sets as we head back to our base camp.

Collier Sunset

Posted by: oregonhiker | June 5, 2013

Malheur Field Station

I do not consider myself a dedicated bird watcher; I did however spend two days at a fantastic bird watching destination, the Malheur Field Station. The station sits at the northern edge of the Great Basin in central Oregon on north end of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. For those not familiar with Oregon this is a very remote part of the state.

Malheur Field Station

Malheur Field Station

During the two days we saw more than 70 different types of birds.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager




White Egret

White Egret

This is a shot across a marsh with the Steens Mountains in the far background. This entire area was at one time a huge lake and you can see signs of the shore lines in the hills on the right.


I you want additional information about the Field Station their web page is:

Posted by: oregonhiker | October 5, 2012

Three Finger Jack – 2012 Day three and four

Day three:

Hike distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: Slight downhill or flat until the last pitch up to the plateau that Craig Lake is on. Trail goes up a face for 300 feet.

Tread surface: Dirt with some cross country near Craig Lake.

Our destination for day three was Craig Lake, aptly named because it sits on a craigy plateau.

Portions of the trail where through portions of the B&B burn, this section was obviously very hot although even here the vegitation is starting to grow back.

The last portion of the trail is a bit hard to find. From the Santiam Pass you start on the Pacific Crest Trail, in approximately ¾ of a mile the trail forks, the PCT goes east and trail 3491 goes west. The trail starts off heading north and then it takes a sharp turn to the west, in another half mile or so the trail turns back north, at that point there is a trail that heads west. You can see the plateau that Craig Lake sits on. Follow the trail until you are near the cliff face. For us someone had placed a flag on the trail marking the point to turn off of the trail and cross country to the cliff. There is a scamble trail that goes up a notch in the face, again for us there was a flag marking the starting point.

Craig Lake has several nice camp spots, we were lucky and got the best of them. This was fortunate because two other groups of campers came up to the lake. Within a few hundred feet of our camp is smaller lake that is much warmer and makes a great swimming spot. After two days on the trail getting to wash the dirt and grim off is a real luxury.

We had hoped to catch some fish in the lake, but from what we could tell the fish population was pretty much non-existent.

We practice low impact camping so our tents were spread out in the woods. Once we were gone about the only sign that we had been there is a bit of trampled grass.

We do like to take advantage of existing fire rings. A nice fire is a great addition to the setting. Even though the daytime temperature were high the nights got quite chilly.

Day 4:

The hike out from Craig Lake to the Santiam Pass is about two miles. Other then the steep drop off of the craig the hike is just a pleasant stroll. The Samtiam Pass trailhead is also an access point for the PCT and there were a couple of PCTers there meeting up with friends.

Posted by: oregonhiker | September 24, 2012

Three Finger Jack – 2012 Day two

Day two:

Hike distance: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: From Wasco Lake in 2 miles gain 1300’
Tread surface: Dirt with areas of snow and wind down trees
The first portion of day 2 was down to Wasco Lake. We had planned to do some fishing in the lake since we had opted not to go to Booth Lake. Unfortunately the time of day was not good for fishing although some time was spent giving it a try. This is a popular lake, both times I have been here there was someone was camped on the lake. With the B&B fire there are limited camping spots on the lake.












From Wasco Lake we hiked up to the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail up to Porcupine Rock was pretty much continuously up with a section of switchbacks near the end.










Once to the ridge on the north shoulder of Three Finger Jack the view spread out to the west.

In this photo you get a glimpse of Santiam Lake.

Sections of the PCT on the west side still had snow even though it was in late August. 2012 had a very late period of cold and snow in the Cascades.









The night two camp was just off the trail on the South side of Three Finger Jack and our water came from a snow melt stream. We discovered that this worked well in the day, but awoke in the morning to no water flow.

The view to the south shows Mount Washington, the North and South Sister and Mount Bachelor.

We were treated to a full moon light show.





Posted by: oregonhiker | August 16, 2012

Three Finger Jack – 2012

This was my second hike around Three Finger Jack and the first was described in an earlier post in 2008.

Day one:

Hike distance: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Tread surface: Well maintained dirt and gravel

Starting point was Jack Lake trail head which can be reached via forest service roads off of highway 20. The trail crosses through sections of forest that were badly burned in the B&B forest fire in 2003. Even with the devastation you can clearly see the renewal that is going on.

Canyon Creek Meadow sits on the east side of Three Finger Jack and the meadow has spectacular wild flowers. In 2012 due to the late snow the flowers were a bit later then most years so our hike in early August was a couple of weeks early for the best viewing. This is an easy hike from the Jack Lake Trailhead and makes a very nice day hike.

The day one camp was at the upper end of the canyon just below the bowl behind the mountain.

We spent that afternoon scouting the saddle on the southeast ridge of Three Finger Jack to determine whether we could exit the canyon from that direction hoping to descend down to Booth Lake, our original day two destination.

The hike up to the saddle follows the ridge between two glacier moraines. The upper portion is a scramble up a scree field.

The view south from the saddle was worth the effort. The mountains right to left are: Mt Washington, North and Middle Sister, Mt Bachelor, and Broken Top.

We decided that the route would involve a long stretch through a burned section with an almost impossible thicket of downed trees. As a result we decided to head around the north end of Three Finger Jack.

Posted by: oregonhiker | August 6, 2012

Three Finger Jack – Trail Report – August 2012

I just got back from a hike around Three Finger Jack, we went from Canyon Creek Meadow to Wasco Lake to the PCT and down to the Santiam Pass. The section from Jack Lake to Canyon Creek was in good condition, the wild flowers were probably a week or two away from prime. From Canyon Creek to Minto Pass was in good shape with only a few wind downed trees. There was a section just after Porcupine Hill going south on the PCT with a lot of downed trees, trail crews have not been able to get into that area yet due to snow. On the Northwest section of the PCT there were several sections of snow. There has been enough traffic to provide a clear trail.

Posted by: oregonhiker | May 18, 2012

Extendo/Uproute spring hike

The loop is approximately 3 miles with significant elevation gain. Hiking up the Uproute trail is less steep. The trail surface is all season and is shared by hikers, bikers and horses.

The weather was spectacular so I took the opportunity to hike out in McDonald Forest. Part of my hike was on the Extendo and Uproute trail. As a bit of history, my first time on the Extendo trail was years ago and instead of hiking I was mountain biking. There are actually two connected trails, one call Endo and the second Extendo. Both were single track trails. Endo was extremely steep with several treacherous sections which meant that inevitably one would go over the handles, an Endo. The lower section, Extendo was a bit saner until you came to mud hole near the bottom. If not careful your bike would suddenly come to an   abrupt stop at which time you would extend out over your handle bars.

The closest starting point is the Biology Station at the end of Oak Creek. Head up Paterson Road to the first road on the left. Extendo starts a 100 feet or so on the right and is well marked.


The Extendo trail meanders through a changing set of echo systems.  You start off in a riparian zone with a small bridge over a creek. On this particular day the flowers were quite nice.



From there the trail starts up the hill into an area of regrowth fir trees with a mix of hardwoods.


I had to include this picture because when this was a mountain bike single track the route went through the V on the left. The distance between the trees was only slightly wider than the handle bars.



There is one trail Y so watch for the signs, if you are going down the trail it is very obvious which way to go.

When hiking anywhere in McDonald Forest be watch full for poison oak. In the spring it is green, with three leaf groupings and waxy leaves. It can cause a very itchy rash. I have an earlier post on poison oak if you would like more pictures.



As you near the top you will see some large fir trees. This one is not huge by fir tree standards, but it is five or six feet in diameter at the base.

You will come to the top of this trail section when you come to an intersection where two trails intersect perpendicularly. The trail straight ahead is actually Endo and is very steep and goes up McCullock Peak. The trail to the right goes to the McCullock Peak road and if you turn down the hill you will come back down to Paterson Creek Road. The trail to the left is the Uproute trail. If you came up the Uproute trail the Extendo trail is well marked.

The hike down the Uproute Trail is pleasant; it starts on an all season trail and then follows a gravel road. If you are hiking up stay on the main road and watch for signs to the Uproute Trail.


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