Explore Backpacking Trips - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Backpacking Trips Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Beautiful trail, really not to hard for the amazing view rewards. The road getting to the trail was fairly rough in sections, I wouldn’t have made it (with a Prius) if it was wet or muddy.

Fabulous hike with several types of terrain. Went all the way to the ridge just below Three Fingered Jack for a 7.5 mike trip. Fall weather was in full force. Saw both a calving glacier and a pronghorn sheep. The loop is pretty kid friendly and my little one (10) made it to Cirque Lake without too much trouble.

Beware though he road up has a few sandy spots that you will really want/need a high clearance AWD/4x4 vehicle to cross - especially after in rains.

hiking
4 days ago

Lovey trail. The meadows and view of Three Fingered Jack are stunning.

Some things to know before going.
The $5 fee deposit box can be found at the trailhead NOT on Forest Rd 12.
When you get to the lower canyon, go left to the unmarked trail that says “unmaintained trail”.

Great time of year to hike because of no mosquitos but we didn’t see three fingered jack because it was unfortunately socked in. Still a gorgeous hike. Signs and descriptions don’t quite add up, however.

hiking
13 days ago

Wow!!! This is an incredible hike! Waterfalls, a creek, the lake and stunning views along the way. I didn’t use trekking poles but saw many who did. Moderate hike. I will definitely hike this trail again. Bring plenty of water.

If you want to question all life choices you’ve ever made try this trail! Haha but seriously this trail is not 6 miles I clocked it at 9.5 miles to Russel lake and I checked on the way back got the same distance so I have no idea where 6 miles is coming from. This trail is relentless and difficult so if you want to cry for 6 miles try it out! Hahahaha the lake is pretty sweet though. Make sure you bring a pad to sleep on because the ground is reeeeeeeeally hard. At the end make sure you go left if you want to get to Russel lake because it’s not marked.

Ive never been on the PCT but was surprised how many people I came across. I only did about 3.5 miles out instead of the 5.5 but I ran into at least 30 people (all backpackers). Beautiful views and the trail is easy to follow. The road is ROUGH. The rocks don’t look bad as you approach them but you definitely get knocked around. Do not attempt in a sedan... at all. I have a Jeep and that was perfect.

hiking
23 days ago

This was a beautiful hike, and our small dog was able to make it the whole way. The description on this page is accurate, and I would highly recommend this hike to anyone wanting to see Three Fingered Jack. At the time of our hike (8/24/18), the forest fire smoke wasn’t impacting views for the hike too badly. Bugs were not a problem either.

When the hike gets between the upper meadow and the glacial lake, the red path lines on the AllTrails map don’t line up with the trail. However, that section is mostly a scramble over loose rock to the lake anyway.

The route to get there is pretty easy to follow, but sections of FR 1234 have some moderate sand to get through.

We went off trail a few times, down to the river. Our phone said we put in 11-12 miles between the two (one phone said 11, the other said 12.2). Longer trail, lots of exposed roots and rocks. Decent switch backs starting about a mile in. I'm glad we did this trail but I would not do it again.

hiking
24 days ago

Great hike, lots of places to take breaks along the way. We weren't going fast but reached the lakes in 2.5 hours with one break about half way. Trail is in excellent shape and was lightly travelled on a Friday. Had an excellent lunch on the NE side of the lake. There is NOT a trail all the way around, it looks like there is one but it runs out shortly after it separates from the one that goes on. There is a small trail that is right along the lake on the SE/E side, it is not that easy because of the mud and the climb up to the trail above in gravel(25 feet, using a fallen tree). Overall, will definitely hike it again and throughly enjoyed it!!

hiking
27 days ago

A hike that included a little bit of everything...a creek, waterfalls, mountain peaks, lava flow, flowers, and a beautiful lake. Not too strenuous in terms of steepness. I would consider a moderate hike only due to length of trail. It took me about 3-4 hours including a 1/2 hour break at the lake. Easy trail to follow. There are a few foot bridges to cross and a couple areas to cross over streams by stepping on rocks.

Thought I was on the easy trail but completed this one nonetheless. A few logs to navigate over or under or around, which my Westie didn't appreciate, but the views at the end were a nice payoff. Also several worthy views along the way if you can't or don't want to complete the whole hike.

backpacking
30 days ago

Hiked up on the evening of July 3 to stay through the holiday and only a handful of campsites were occupied. Mosquitoes were pretty bad - we were thankful for our head nets.

Incredible views, plenty of water the whole way. Trail is a superhighway and very well maintained.

We got to the trailhead at 6pm and there was plenty of parking - just us and a few trailrunners taking advantage of the long days to go up & back before dark. Hiking out on Friday morning we easily passed 100 people coming in; this is one of the busiest trails I've been on in Oregon. Definitely one for weekdays & evenings if possible.

backpacking
30 days ago

Absolutely stunning. Camped in Upper Meadows the first night and the wildflowers were incredible. The views from the Cirque Lake and the saddle were some of the best in Oregon. 2nd night we moved to Wasco Lake, which had good fishing, but every campsite was full on a Saturday night (we got the last one at 4pm on a Saturday). Trail was very well maintained and while we did see a number of people, the one-way traffic on the trail helped it feel less crowded.

Plenty of water, minimal mosquitoes in mid-July.

One of the best hikes I've done in Oregon and it would be great as a day hike, too.

hiking
1 month ago

Still some lingering wildflowers. Upper meadow was lush and green on 8/12/2018. No mosquitos, some butterflies. Parking lot was full, but trail wasn't crowded at all.

Long but rewarding hike. Lots of little water falls on the way. Great views of South Sister and Broken Top.

great trail! worth the hike is suggest wearing hiking boots or sneakers. I wore chacos and my feet were fine just SUPER dirty at the end.
carry lots of water with you!
if you go on a warm /hot day wear swim gear so you go in the lake.

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike and wonderful camp spots! Definitely going again! Bring your bug spray.

hiking
1 month ago

amazing but if you want solitude don'g go between Friday-Sunday.

Beautiful area, however, extremely crowded with people staying at opal creek ancient forest center (a really neat sustainable retreat area with cabins and activities for large groups) then lots of day hikers and river rats. All of which I’m totally fine with had I known what I was going to expect once I arrived. I came to backpack, not car camp and that’s what this place screams!!

We arrived at about 10am on a Tuesday in the middle of August. The parking lot had roughly 50-60 cars already and a shuttle van was making trips down the first part of the trail (roughly 3.5-4miles) to the cabins at opal creek ancient forest center. In previous reviews it was mentioned that the first few miles of the “trail” WAS a gravel road, but everyone failed to mention that it was STILL in use! I don’t want to share a trail with any vehicle unless I’m at a festival, and even that sucks. So after the giant shuttle van passed us we proceeded down (about 2.5-3 miles) to where the Kopetski Trail crossed the river and we hit are first single track of the day. Yay!

The single track is a little tight but it’s very manageable, yes the footing can be a little tricky but if you have on good sturdy shoes and watch where you’re going you’ll be fine. After crossing back over the bridge down by opal pool we were pretty burned out on all the crowds screaming and shrieking and were relieved to be heading past the “resort” like atmosphere.

Past the main crowds it’s about another 2 - 2.5 miles to cedar flats. Be forewarned only two pools deep enough to swim in that we could see and the last one is a good half mile from the two camp sites at the end of the trail. There are about four camp sites altogether from the crowded cabin area all the way along to the end out in Cedar Flats. Also there is a bees nest at the second to the last camp site. Almost everyone got stung once but the poor dog got it the worst.

So here’s the deal, had I known more of what to expect, I wouldn’t have gone for a backpacking trip here. I like solitude, over crowds, whilst packing. I would have gone for the river fun and maybe a quick day hike to checkout jawbone flats, the mining stuff, and the cool thing that the people out at opal creek ancient forest center got going on.

Pros: gorgeous, old growth viewing, old mining equipment, and mind shafts, quiet if your all the way out in cedar flats, easy hike with hardly any elevation gain, absolutely stunningly clear water!

Cons: tons of people, specific vehicles are prohibited to use the road/trail until opal creek learning center (not much traffic and they do drive slow but still a con) all the swimming holes are ran sacked with dozens of high energy kids and families making it tough to find time to relax at the river. It screams car camping vibe.

Totally fine but had I known for backpacking I just wouldn’t have done it. My fault should have researched more. This is really the purpose of this post. To help another backpacker gather info on this place so they can make a better choice.

Nice hike! We only went to Benson lake but it was great. Beautiful lake and the North side wasn’t crowded at all. You can walk all the way on top of the bluffs on the North. It gives you a jaw dropping view of the peaks to the south. Also a Great Lake for swimming! Follow all our adventures on Instagram @themicrotourists!

backpacking
1 month ago

First 5 miles is a continuous uphill trudge with lots of loose rocks on the trail. This made for a less enjoyable hike getting to Russell lake and even on the way back a bit tricky as it is easy to roll an ankle, despite being downhill.

If looking to get to Russell Lake using this trail, just know it is NOT 6mi, more like 8.5mi.

Pretty popular trail considering the amount of traffic I ran into on a weekday morning. Road conditions on the way up are fairly poor and there is a lot of rippling of the gravel. Good hike with some cool views along the way. Glad I went once but I probably wont be back for a while.

hiking
1 month ago

Anyone who's been there recently have a mosquito report? Thanks!

Loved this hike! Great hike for dogs too as there are lots of water spots but as others have mentioned the trail gets HOT on some sections so you’ll definitely want to bring booties for your dog if you’re not going to be off the trail by noon. It does get a little steep if you go up to the glacial lake past the high meadow - which I definitely recommend doing!

backpacking
1 month ago

Great hike, great views

Such a beautiful hike! Make sure you go in late July, which is peak for the wildflowers.

Beautiful trail. Wildflowers are on their way down, but still abundant and amazing. If you choose to go toward Cirque Lake (the glacial lake just beneath Three Finger Jack), definitely bring adequate hiking shoes and poles if you have them. They will be an invaluable help. The path is loose gravel for the last 1/4 mile up to the glacial lake and on past (if you go up to the top of the crest). If you just do the loop, it’s a good climb on the first leg (to the meadow), but an easy downhill from there. Spectacular views of Three Finger Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and a few others (even 2 of the three sisters briefly). Heavily trafficked for a weekend but well worth it!
Also, no mosquitoes, but plenty of flies.

hiking
1 month ago

Such a Gorgeous hike!! No words... just go!!

I loved this trail! I started at Opal Creek Campground which provides you with a couple easy miles before the incline starts. So much beauty! Like being in a fairy land! Lush forest and crystal clear green/blue waters. Plenty of side paths to go down to the river and swim. The incline is a great workout. Bringing a friend back here to do it again

Load More