Explore the most popular horseback riding 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.

Beautiful. Trail is very well-maintained

Beautiful views at he top and it’s worth the hike to get there are see them. Easy morning is best in summer to avoid crowds. Will be doing this hike again, beautiful and fabulous exercise. Would plan 3-4 hours.

Great hike through the forest and along the river! Nice views of waterfalls, rapids and lava flow across the river. Nice views of Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in a few spots too. A little muddy in spots, but it's early April. Trade off is no mosquitoes yet! Yay! Pretty easy hike overall.

One of my favorite hikes! Went in early July, great views with lots of butterflies and blooming flowers! Bit of an incline to the top but it’s well worth it.

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.

4 months ago

Short walk to a neat cave.

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.

paddle sports
6 months ago

Beautiful calm and easy for beginners

Oct. 16th 2017 Sunny nice day. Snow 2 to 3 feet at upper elevations, but snow on all the trail.

Mostly dirt, some snowy spots.

Great views

Stunning views, especially during early fall.

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

Amazing hike around the rim. Spectacular view point although the hike.

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!

8 months ago

went here tonight to beat the heat. I brought a fleece and didn't need it at all, felt so good down there lol. I also went at 5pm on a Monday and had the place to myself. It was awesome!! highly recommend. And I left my dog at home d/t risk of bat and racoon feces...

Great hike for the kids

8 months ago

Hiked July 23rd: Great hike trail, little busy this time of year. The mosquitoes are bad just past the meadow near the top, BRING BUG SPRAY! This year the butterflies are beautiful and everywhere this year too.

This is a great hike! A comfortable pace is 10-15 miles a day for me but I could do 20 if I was determined. Beautiful lakes and views 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile off trail are worth the extra distance. Consistent water access is a plus!

Started hike at sunset. Spent night on trail to watch sunrise and catch some great night time / early morning sunrise colors. Great views and fun trail to hike and explore.

9 months ago

Getting ready to go there for the first time on Monday. Anyone know it there is still water in the creeks etc? Just wondering how much I should pack in. Thanks

9 months ago

We were there last weekend. We got lucky because there was a break in the smoke, which meant clear skies next to the mountain. Some of the daisies and beargrass had already finished blooming, but there was a ton of lupin and paintbrush out. It's a very beautiful place.

The prettiest part is the lower meadow, which is where the loop ends. You can go another mile to the upper meadow which is near the base of three-fingered jack. We stopped there, but you can also go further up to see the lake and a lookout point.

On the loop back be sure to pick the huckleberries. There's about a mile stretch where the trail is bordered by huckleberry bushes everywhere.

9 months ago

This is the most complete backpacking trip you'll find in all of Oregon. Truly something for everyone. Excellent trail conditions as of Aug 12th '17. No name lake is predictably crowded with very limited tent space, but anywhere just below the lake is equally impressive and I would argue more comfortable and peaceful. Designated camping spots at Green Lakes were sparse due to the fact that many are under restoration, but if you get creative you will find excellent spots in the vicinity.
Any camping at Park Meadow is excellent due to the proximity and level of the creek running through the meadow.

Ample water supplies every couple miles. We had one 32 oz bottle and one 3L bladder per person and never ran short or dry.

9 months ago

Are backpackers allowed to camp anywhere on the trail?

9 months ago

Are backpackers allow to camp anywhere along the trail?

Beautiful and scenic even though smoke limited the view. Our dog loves the patches of snow.

9 months ago

Just completed this loop today.

Started at Three Creeks Trail. Camped the first night at Golden Lake. No problems whatsoever. No Snow. Approximately 7.7 miles though a burnt forest, meadows and a couple river crossings. Bring sandals for the crossings. This section was all soft sand on the trail. Much like walking on the dry portion of the beach.

Day two was a long difficult one. 10 miles from Golden Lake to the No Name Lake.

Day Three was out from the ice lake to Tam McArthur Rim and back to Three Creeks Lake. When leaving the lake it can be easy to lose the trail. Having said that, it's also very easy to find/follow the trail. Either set your compass bearing and aim for the end of Tam McArthur Rim, or just follow the AllTrails geotrack. Look for all the cairns to help guide you. Just make sure you hit the Tam McArthur Rim Trail at the very end. I walked passed it and had to climb 150 yards almost straight up in loose lava rock to get back on the trail.

There were multiple snow crossings both approaching the mountain and leaving the mountain. All easily passable.

The last few miles down from Tam McArthur to Three Creeks is very steep and harder than I expected.

Thank you to whomever uploaded this track. It was an incredible help.


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