Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Deschutes National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
6 hours ago

Left the trailhead about 8 am on 6/16. Saw many others using spikes/crampons, but personally I never felt the need as the snow wasn’t very hard. Waterproof boots and a good trekking pole or two will suffice. Reached the summit by noon. Was no visibility and 45 mph winds, but never felt dangerous due to the well marked trail. Brought some waterproof pants and gaiters for some glissading on the way down. Back to the car by 2 pm.

walking
1 day ago

Lovely, easy and well marked trail... if you begin to the Left, it will take you through peekaboo views of several Cascade Mountains as you walk through volcanic rock - such a contrast and a visual delight. The second half of the trail runs side by side with Sparks Lake - I had to pause to not only breath in the breathtaking views but to take photo after photo around every corner. I look forward to returning as everyday in Central Oregon has different weather patterns (blue skies, high/low clouds, rain, snow and more) and each brings its own magic.

hiking
2 days ago

Hiked on 6/14. Started the hike at 6 am. Good amount of snow still so we put on ice spikes when the trail started to get steep. Was good to start early in the day while the snow was still hard as it turned to slush as the day went on and was harder to manage. Trekking poles were a must to keep from sliding and take some pressure off our knees on the way back down. It was clear up top with a beautiful view of the other 2 sisters, 3 fingered jack and mt Jefferson. Don't be discouraged by the false summit, keep going because the glacier/snow field and view from the top are worth it!

Awesome views the whole way but getting to both gold lake and green lakes are currently still snowed in wouldn’t attempt to do this till July as the temperature dropped to 25 overnight

nature trips
6 days ago

What an incredible place. My husband and I showed up at this trailhead looking for Jack Lake and ended up doing almost all of the Canyon Creek Meadow hike. We stopped when the trail forks to the left and right with a gorgeous view of Three Fingered Jack. We had to walk through tiny patches of snow to get that far, and gave up when we couldn’t see the end of it. It’s mostly uphill so it was an excellent workout. We ran into 11 people and 3 dogs. Can’t wait to return with the kids once the snow is gone. This was our favorite place yet!!

hiking
7 days ago

Great hike!

Went over memorial day and the trail is completely hidden by snow about 2 miles in. Beautiful hike and I look forward to coming back so we can summit.

Went on 5/30 with my 10 year old boy. Great trail and we made it all the way up to the base of Three Fingered Jack. The GPS was a bit spotty, but necessary due to snow. Runoff is picking up and there are fewer snow bridge crossings, but the snow all the way up was firm other than late afternoon slush on surface. We wore low-top Merrill shoes and had no issues. The Google Maps directions to the trailhead were a disaster, however, make sure you follow directions or a map and don' rely on Google Maps.

Hiked this over memorial day weekend with a small group. Given that the majority of the trail is covered in snowpack at the moment, we more or less followed this route. We did the trip as an overnighter and camped at Green Lakes.We did the route clockwise which was the right choice given the conditions, but if we went in the summer we all agreed we'd probably go counter clockwise if for no other reason than dropping 2000ft in elevation at the end of the hike is much nicer than asending 1000.

This loop is absolutely gorgeous and we highly recommend it. As others have mentioned it's probably worth taking special care on the section from Broken Hand to the end of the trail. We didn't have to worry about it so much since we went the opposite way but I remember looking over my shoulder and thinking that finding the hook up with the Tam McArthur Rim Trail would be pretty damn hard if I didn't already know where it was.

We attempted the hike over Memorial Day weekend and found a bit too much snow on the trail 2 Miles in - too difficult to keep to the trail through the snow fields so turned around. Still beautiful but didn’t make it to the awesome base of Three Fingered Jack this time. Will come back again in July/August.

A good amount of snow still. I struggled to find the trail but this app helped out there!

hiking
24 days ago

Hiked on 5/12/18. Car camped with Ali and Denali at the trailhead. Snow started at the beginning of the trail so we snow shoed the whole way. There was a cloud over the top of the mountain the entire way, and as we got closer the wind really started picking up. Our plan was to just go to the lake because we knew there wasn’t going to be a view but we stopped about 1.5-2 miles from the summit because we were hit with 40-50 MPH winds that were throwing snow and ice at us. We didn’t summit but the views of Bachelor were worth it. Really beautiful!

Beautiful hike! Still a lot of snow. Had to punch through and trail find, but it was great!

Hiked this last season was so beautiful

This was such a beautiful hike

I hiked this trail on an early February day. The very low snowfalls up to that point made is such that all but the last quarter mile was clear and dry, allowing a climb without any special gear.
The parking lot, just off SW Sherman Camp road, appears to be enough to accommodate the low traffic this trail gets (compared to the upper trailhead). There are no facilities at the trailhead (there are restrooms, however, at the UPPER trailhead).
The first .8 miles are essentially flat, roughly paralleling the road and heading in a southwesterly direction. There are a few intersecting trails/roads but the signs poster on wooded posts made it easy to continue on trail #4026. At a couple spots, the destination of the hike can be seen through openings in the trees.
The second portion of the hike starts at the .8 miles mark where the trail veers into a southeasterly direction and starts to ascend around the slope of Black Butte. This section is an uninterrupted 2.5 miles climb at a sustained but manageable grade. The trail intersects 3 forest roads on its way to the Upper Trailhead: Lower Butte Loops Trail 4093, Upper Butte Loops Trail, NFDR 1110-500. At each intersection, wooden sign posts in sight of each other easily identifies the spot where trail #4026 continues. The upper trailhead is a good spot (at about 3.25 miles in the hike) to take a short break, snack at the picnic table or use the restrooms. From there, it is another sustained climb to the summit.
The last two miles start the way the first 3+ have gone: healthy climb on a well maintained trail that get a bit more rocky in some spots. After the first (and only) switchback, the trails heads in a more easterly direction a few hundred feet below the summit. On this cold February day, frost covered all vegetation .5 miles before the top and the trail itself turned to pack snow and ice .25 miles before, as it rounded the southeast side of the butte. It took me probably a good 30/40 minutes to negotiate that stretch of the trail.
Once at the top, and an a fairly clear day, the views open 360 degrees with Broken Top, the 3 Sisters, Belknap Crater, Three Fingers Jack and Mt Jefferson dramatically displayed. Further north, Mt Hood was easily spotted and, with a minimum of effort, Mt Adams at the horizon across the Columbia river. A VERY nice spot to discover many of the Cascades peaks. The summit, fairly roomy and elongated, with so many views to take in, is clearly a good place to spend time and have a quick meal. The cupola and the fire lookout tower also make for fairly interesting photo opportunities.
If hiking this trail during the warmer month, it is likely a good idea to bring plenty of water and use sunscreen for the last mile of the climb.
I gave 5 stars to this trail first because of the views from the top but then also because of the well cut and well maintained trail itself. The first three mile, before reaching the upper trailhead, are very quiet (I did not see anyone either going up or coming down). The last 2 miles, past the upper trailhead were rather crowded; this also appears to be a favorite for dog owners. The workout the trail offers (3400 ft elevation gain is about 4 miles) also makes it a good destination for weekend (or daily) warriors.
Highly recommended.

PUT SOME “SPARKS” IN YOUR LIFE!
Words and pics by Ian Smith
Eventually we choose the Pine Tavern at Bend (Oregon) for food and what a choice. Right in the middle of the restaurant are two mature pine trees growing out of the floor and straight through the roof. While I ponder how the roof might be sealed, Lorraine checks out the wine list until my gaze is taken by the lovely garden that tilts toward the Deschutes River.
The birds are loving it; a robin hops around the plants in a vigilant search for insects while a flock of waxwings are having a wonderful time at the bird bath as mallards paddle back and forth in the river. It feels like you’re part of nature without even leaving your table. The tasty food gets us thinking about what else to do and we decide to have a crack at Sparks Lake.
Sparks is renowned among photographers as being a place to get a good shot but, as is always the case, you have to get the weather right......that’s where Lorraine, the weather goddess, comes in.
It’s not that far from Bend up the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Highway and, as we pass Mount Bachelor, the local ski field, it’s so hard to imagine people skiing over a rugged lava flow; just doesn’t seem right.
We’ve a bit of time on board so we slip into Todd Lake first. It’s a 4 km stroll around a placid lake and, while it’s nice and there’s some interesting bird life, we’re hoping for better at Sparks.
To get into Sparks it’s a twisting road with, at times, corrugations and bumps, the like of which we’ve never seen in America where just about everything is sealed road it seems. In fact, you have a less than 1% chance of driving on one, according to statistics. Still, our hopes of a reward at the end aren’t dashed though the weather goddess has let me down a little because of a breeze coming across the lake.
Its potential is easy to discern however, South Sister and Broken Top stand stark in the background, ready to cast their images on a millpond should it transpire and, since it’s a while before the earth spins around and delivers darkness, we first amuse ourselves watching a chipmunk letting some birds know just who’s in charge of discarded apple. The frenetic energy they forever display never ceases to warm us to their ways; oh that we should be able to scurry as fast.
We then look in other directions and start to wander down past the lava fields. Where once the flow from Mount Bachelor cooled it formed a barrier to the heated rock still flowing beneath and, in places, it rose up to 70 feet like a giant loaf of leavened bread.
The level of the lake is low, the snow season wasn’t great and, it hasn’t rained much since, so you can walk some places where you’d normally get your feet wet and thus we follow a narrow band of sand beside the lava wall.
You can see how good this place could be but the ripple, however small, frustrates us so we have to be content with the leg exercise and the occasional snap. Still, it’s a pleasant afternoon beneath a virtually cloudless sky and we reach a point where the realization dawns that it’s pointless to walk any farther around this strange body of water with no known exit. Somehow, somewhere, it just drains slowly.
We’d returned nary 50 metres before we were rounded up by a young couple, she of boundless energy demonstrated by practising rock climbing techniques up and down the lava flow with mind blowing dexterity. In leaps and bounds reminiscent of a mountain goat did she ascend with a confidence borne of youth. As we waited expectantly for a slip she continued to confound us with her suppleness.
The entertainment over, as quickly as it eventuated, we idled back to the carpark and stepped back to our original viewpoint. The breeze was faltering and two other photographers were waiting in anticipation so we deigned to join them and everyone’s optimism turned out to be justified.
Though we didn’t get an atmospheric ruddy glow we got a crystal clear sky with classic mirror reflection. South Sister and Broken Top were haze free and it’s easy to see why there are so many shots on the internet of this spot. In the stillness we were mesmerized by the natural beauty of the setting. Oregon just keeps on delivering.
We drove home satisfied, we’d seen and digested much without travelling too far today.

We did an out and back to the Maiden Peak Shelter today. 13 miles round trip. Trail is mixed clear, ice, and packed snow. We used our Yak Trax the whole way. It was a beautiful day. No one on the trails. We think someone stayed overnight last night as a fire was still warm in the shelter.

absolutely gorgeous. saw no one on the lower 3 miles of the trail. was insanely peaceful. loved near the top when the clouds cleared and everything came into focus. what a great trail. also the parking is super easy to find. the map brings you right to it. well marked!

I loved this hike. Quiet and not crowded like some of the others in this area. It was a bit dusty in the beginning but the scenery more than made up for it.

Amazing hike! Went all the way up to the tarn and it was worth it, saw a goat as well! Ended up doing this hike after running into closure left and right due to fires in Sept. Road to get to the trail head was long and bumpy... had to drive slow to get there in my small sedan. Only passes two people the entire time on the hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike. BRING hiking poles! 8-12 inch s of snow. Nice and crunchy on the way up but slushy on the way down. GORGEOUS vista views. Hard hike for sure. Be in some kind of shape or suffer. Loved it. Hiked Oct. 5th (last week) much more snow today I’m sure.

Amazing hike, lots or snow as of 9/25/17. First stretch of woods had 2-4 inches about a mile in. Flat middle stretch had 8-12 inches. Snow shoes would probably help but its pretty slushy, packed and icy so maybe spikes would work better. Trekking poles are a MUST, and ideally some waterproof socks/boots. We weren't prepared and turned back before the final accent. There was also some posted potential trail closures down by the trailhead that referenced fire activity but it may have been out of date because the trail was fine, and we saw some folks who had made it all the way up and all was fine. Campground at the base was snow-free and beautiful but dropped below freezing at night.

Beautiful trail. Very nice walk and views. Easy hike.

Snow from basically the parking lot all the way to the top, microspikes are not needed but make a huge difference in the slushy snow.

9 months ago

While this climb allows for some unbelievably rewarding scenery and views, it is not for everyone. You should not attempt it unless you are already in great hiking shape. The final ascent past the glacier is brutal and dangerous, but it is well worth it at the top. The unique part about this hike is all the different geographical challenges, although it is easy to get lost off the trail. Make sure to come prepared for changes in temperature at the top.

Amazing!
Hiked up to the saddle and ran into Oregon Field Guide film crew camped out up top waiting to document the eclipse. There was a herd of mountain goats clambering up the face Three fingered Jack. A blue green pool that feeds Canyon Creek lies behind a moraine in a cirque at the base of the gigantic sheer cliffs. Opposite the mountain, east of the saddle you can scramble up to a spire-like remnant. It is comprised of layered rock that matches up with layers that are visible high on the towering face of Three Fingered Jack, now separated by thousands of feet of empty space where mountain once stood, evidence of major erosion at work!

hiking
9 months ago

Five star hike, yet not a solitary one. Currently closed due to fire activity Update: Reopened 9/18/2017

Great hike for the kids

hiking
9 months ago

Epic Hike!! Great training for our hike to Half Dome in Yosemite. Very hard but worth it. I recommend at least a gallon of total water. I ended up getting dehydrated after all was said and done.

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