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Best Trails in Three Sisters Wilderness

3 reviews

#16 of 45 Wildernesses in Oregon

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on South Sister Summit
22 days ago

hiking

Summiting South Sister 07/30/2016

I’ll be honest. This was the hardest hike that I’ve ever done. The elevation gain was killer with the short miles. The miles were not short BUT it was completely worth it. Every sweaty, hard, and lack of oxygen moment. The hike is about 5-6.25 miles to the summit, 10-12 miles round trip.

My first tip to all is leave very early and arrive early at the trailhead. The parking lot was almost full at 7am.

The first 1.5-2 miles are hard and goes through the forest. It goes steadily uphill with switchbacks. If you’ve done some of the more intense Columbia gorge hikes you should be fine on this section.
Once you emerge from the forest, you’ll come to a 4 way intersection. Straight forward is towards South Sister. Left is Wikiup Plain. Our group went to the right, towards Moraine Lake. This was about mile. This went through a plain/meadow. We choose to backpack in and stay overnight. We unloaded our backpacks and set up camp. Then had an early lunch and started back out of Moraine Lake towards a pathway to South Sister.

The following mile was pleasant since it’s a sandy plain and flat. This portion of the hike was my favorite as a novice mountain climber. After this portion, it is ALL uphill.

After the sandy plain, the incline to reach the Lewis Glacier lake is hard. You think you’re getting close to the summit and you are but not quite yet. It’s about a mile hike to this point but it is all boulders, loose gravel, and switchbacks. What got me through this entire hike was all the resting rocks as I got closer to the top. The elevation was getting to me at this point too. I had to take lots of pausing breaks to catch my breath.

But I did make it. I took a nice and decent pause at this point. The surrounding view was stunning and scary at the same time. I kept looking up thinking one more mile. One More Mile!

The final mile was soooooooo hard. For every step that I took in the loose red gavel, cinder, sand, scree; I slid back two. I was so frustrated at this point of the hike and had to take breaks where I could since the resting rocks seemed fewer and fewer. What got me through was all the hikers coming down encouraging saying it was only a “little bit more to go”, “You got this”, and “it’s so worth it”. I made a mental note to myself to do the same when I came down.

I really pushed myself to get to the top and I made it. It wasn’t the summit point yet but it was the top. To reach the summit, you need to follow along the right side of the rocky ridge. It was so clear the day we went but windy and cold.

My girlfriends and I made it to the top at 10,358ft. We were able to see Middle Sister, and North Sister as well as Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens. My pictures don’t do it justice with what we saw. It was simply stunning. It was one of the hardest hikes that I’ve ever done but so worth the sweat, blood, and near tears.

I swore to myself that I’d write a review for all the various hiking websites since I read them avidly before my hike. Thank you to all who post their advice and experiences. Hopefully someone find this helpful.

on Lowder Mountain Trail
1 year ago

hiking

I did not know what to expect with this mountain. I was looking for a lower elevation, longer distance hike. I was extremely satisfied with this one. It took me about 2 1/2 hours total - with a nice 20 minute rest on the summit cliffs. I had the trail to myself. The trail winds through meadows of vine maple and blackberry, with amazing old growth strewn within the forest (look around for it!). It's a little overgrown at times, but I found this to be a fun and rugged trail. The trail comes to a fork at about the 2 mile point. Bear right here up to Lowder Mountain (.8). Walker creek continues to the left. The trail then switchbacks up to an open meadow, mostly dirt. The cairns were very helpful from here. The trail then traces a second meadow, finally reaching a cliff-side vista. I could see the Sisters, Broken top, Diamond peak, Mt. Washington, Mt Bachelor, and Mt. Hood. This would be an incredible place to camp. I will certainly return.

on French Pete Creek Trail
1 year ago

hiking

Great old growth! The bridge washed out about 5 miles in years ago and they never replaced it, so the hike is not that long. Great flowers in the spring.