Photos of Diamond Peak Wilderness Birding Trails

I hiked to Divide Lake and back , from Willamette pass and mostly following the PCT, on a late July day as the little annoying sting beasts’s numbers starting to dwindle (no small consideration in this area rich on water sources). Using the PCT for 8 of the 9 miles to Divide lake guarantee a good thread and reasonable grades

I parked just off the OR58’s turnoff to Shelter cove, on a long and spacious dirt parking lot. Alternatives can be to park at the Gold Lake SnoPark (NF 5899) leading to Pengra Pass road. There might also be options further down the Shelter Cove Rd, closer to Pengra Pass.
The first two miles or so (from the parking lot to the intersection with the Pengra Pass dirt road) climbs up a bluff overlooking Odell lake before descending back down to the pass. There is, in particular, a nice rocky outcropping at the 1 mile mark providing unobstructed views of Odell. This is slightly off the trail, look for it on your left as you make your way south.

Past Pengra pass, the PCT starts it long, moderate ascent all the way to Lil’s Lake ([passing Midnight Lake, Arrowhead Lake, and Hidden lake on the way… plus many smaller bodies of water. Hidden lake is just that.. hidden. Look for a spur to the left (heading south) that climbs a couple hundred feet up a slope behind which the lake hides. Most of this section is adequately shaded and the lakes provide a respite from the relatively dry (in July/Aug) terrain along the trail. Lil’s lake shore offers many camping, lunch/break spots. This is a good break point before tackling the next 2.5 miles with a more pronounced climb to the junction with the Mt Yoran trail (Mile 8 – a few goods views of Diamond peak on that section) and steep/short .15 ascent to the ridge line. The trail then drops down to the lake in ¾ mile, passing a smaller lake just before reaching Divide. The eastern end of divide lake has good camping/lunching spots with direct views of the east face of Mt Yoran.

I walked a few hundred feet further on the southern shore to my lunch spot and, eventually, a short swim in the lake on a very hot day.

I intended to make this a loop by returning via the Yoran Lake trail branching off the PCT on the southwest side of Lil’s lake. Soon enough, however the trail became harder to find and, after a reaching a few dead-ends, I returned to the PCT. If I did this again, I would start on the Trapper Creek trail and then making a right on the Yoran lake trail, then return via the PCT.

While the route is mostly through forested areas, it does not hurt to bring sunscreen too.
Altogether, this came up to a bit over 18 miles, a good distance for a long hiking day, with a few refreshing stops at the various lakes. As of 2018, this route is free of sad remnants of forest fires that plague areas of the PCT further to the north, around McKenzie pass.

Final note: Divide lake and Mt Yoran can also be accessed from the Vivian lake trailhead to the west; that is a shorter hike (less than 8 miles round trip) but (1) it takes longer to get to the trailhead via Hills Creek Rd in Oakridge and a few unpaved miles and (2) you don’t get to sit and relax at Shelter Cove when you are back!