A few years ago I had the chance to lead a group of Scouts on a 50 mile hike through the Three Sisters Wilderness area in Central Oregon. This hike offers an incredible variety of terrain and truly breathtaking scenery. The main attractions are North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister. But Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack are all visible along the trek. All these peaks are extinct or dormant volcanos which makes the trip interesting for anyone interested in geology. We found football sized chucks of obsidian at one point near the trail.
We started out on the Pacific Crest Trail near Dee Wright Observatory on highway 242. The first stretch is over barren volcanic rock as far as the eye can see. After a few miles you get into trees with a few beautiful lakes along the trail. The trail goes around cinder cones as it climbs up and around the Three Sisters.
The year we went was a very late winter. We ended up hiking a day and a half through snow, navigating by map and compass to stay on course. It was exhausting but incredibly beautiful. We met another group of hikers in a little flat area. They make the trip every year around that same time and had never seen that much snow before. The area that was still under 2-3 feet of snow usually featured a grassy meadow and wildflowers fed by a small spring.
We made our way down out of the snow and wound around South Sister, past the cow pie (a giant lava flow coming off South Sister. You’ll know why it’s called that when you see it,) and ended up at Elk Lake. We hit a couple other lakes in the area which provided a substantial craw daddy dinner on evening. Delicious!
I would highly recommend this stretch of trail. Although it would have been easier later in the year when the snow was melted (we went in the middle of July) it was absolutely beautiful with the snow. If you do go in the snow, make sure you know how to navigate! Also a spot doesn’t hurt (http://www.findmespot.com/en/). We certainly had one for the trip.
Let me know if you’ve hiked the area, or have any other suggestions in the area.