Pamelia Lake Trail

MODERATE 54 reviews

Pamelia Lake Trail is a 4.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Idanha, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.4 miles
784 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




horseback riding

nature trips

trail running






wild flowers


In addition to a parking fee, a wilderness permit is required for day and overnight use (must be purchased in advance at or Detroit Ranger Station).

22 days ago

It was a nice easy well marked about 5 mile hike. It was a beautiful forest. The lake was very low and that allowed you to see rocks that had some interesting stripes. For needing a special use permit I expected something much more spectacular and/or unique.

1 month ago

Easy, gentle incline up to Pamelia Lake. Lake is almost empty. Only ~5 campsites occupied on a Friday night.

Grizzly Peak trail had gorgeous views, but watch out for yellow jackets on the trail! Swarming by the dozens - I was stung twice.

1 month ago

Nice hike through old growth forest and along creek. Great water sources for filtering. Great road to trail head. Only 3 of the 12 lakeside campsites occupied on a Tuesday night, 8/14/18. Water level down in Pamelia Lake, deepest part of lake about 12 inches deep.

1 month ago

Nice trail, view of mount Jefferson was amazing!

2 months ago

Beautiful trail beside Pamelia Creek transports you to the small lake. Went in on a Thursday and there were open campsites. Ranger mentioned they would post at the trailhead if there are any known algae bloom issues which there none. There a posting of a cougar siting south of Pamelia Lake on July 5th, 2018.

2 months ago

very family and pet friendly walk. great scenery and wildlife. The creek was outstanding beauty. Once at the lake we watched the osprey dive repeatingly from the air into the water and come up with a fish. Once in a lifetime moment. hour and a half walk each way.

2 months ago

This was a fairly easy trail alongside a creek that featured white water and mini waterfalls. The lake and mountain were stunning and I could not stop staring at the perfect reflection of the mountain in the water. This made for a great half-day hike.

4 months ago

What a great hike ,,thanks to Nicole and kujo..I had a great trip with them ,,beautiful Oregon, ,

4 months ago

Good trail. Very family friendly. There is a gradual grade but nothing too crazy. Snow still dots the ground past the lake. Official camp sites seemed crowded.

5 months ago

went 4/22, still a decent amount of snow on the trail. Gaiters needed, but no snow shoes to reach the lake. some clearing to set up a tent on the shore.

7 months ago

Great for families and their first-time backpacking trips

11 months ago

Hard to beat this hike through the wilderness forest. The first mile was clear; the upper portion had a fair bit of snow on it from this year's early snowfall. The lake was beautiful. And went beyond the lake to the PCT, as far as Moon Creek, which is right at the base of Mt. Jefferson--stunning!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Unsure of why exactly this trail is rated as difficult, the hike leading to Pamelia Lake specifically is pretty laid back. This was my first solo day-hike, maybe it's difficult with backpacking gear. Elevation gain is very minimal and spread nicely throughout the ~2.5 miles to the destination. Maybe I just went at a good time in the season. I did this beautiful hike 2 days ago after learning that the Whitewater trailhead to Jefferson was blocked off due to a fire. Evidence of that fire was definitely clear, I could smell smoke during the hike and I could see it like hazy fog over the lake/surrounding mountains. Pamelia lake is so relaxing, I didn't get the chance to do the Grizzly Peak or Hunt's Creek trailheads but I will definitely be back soon with my friends! Lots of butterflies.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Took a Saturday and went up there. Hiking was great however fishing not so much. Hard to gain access to lake because of thick and down vegetation. Based on pictures looks like lake was high and is usually lower than what we experienced. Those who have a small raft or waders may have a better shot. Spoke with local who had been coming up there for many many years and said lake is not stocked therefore fish populations declining rapidly.
Overalls awesome hike and scenery but bummer on the fishing

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The road off 22 to get the to the trailhead was in much better shape than expected. Great, relaxing hike. Forest Ranger was roping off sections of the Lake to allow for habitat restoration. Hike only had snow the last 1/2 mile or so to the lake, hardback, minimal post-holing.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Beautiful hike even with the bit of snow still left in the trail. Highly recommended for families.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

About 75% of the trail still has snow, makes it a little harder walking, but certainly manageable. Especially on a clear sunny day like today when I was dying for the view at Pamelia Lake. It was stunning!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Easy hike- just did this on 11/17- the snow on the trees was incredible!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

We hiked in 10/09/2016 and added Grizzly Peak - both are well maintained, low-traffic trails. The reason I'm giving two stars are the BEES - we had 6 people and everyone (including the dogs) got stung 2 or more times, and this was over the course of the entire hike. If you go just take precaution!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The hike was GREAT!

However the warned of the fact that you need to have a permit only available in advance from additionally you have to get a parking permit in advance as well.

This is a limited entry area (fines up to $250)

All that is stuff I wish I had known before going up there.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Loved the old forest. Easy trail to Pamelia Lake. In 2015 the lake was dried up and surrounded by the mud left behind, but still enjoyed the hike.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

A great hike with my dog.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pamelia Lake water level is low but enjoyable. Only stopped for 20 mins before pushing on. The last 2.5 miles to Hunts Cove is very steep and slow. Trail is getting over grown through the upper portions. Stayed at Hunts Lake for 2 nights because the fishing was better than Hanks Lake.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This was my second trip to Pameila Lake. The first was 40 years ago. The trail was pretty much what I remembered and is an easy hike up to the lake. The creek was flowing pretty good, but when I got to the lake I was shocked. It could have been called Pameila Bog instead I guess that's what happens after a year with no snow and not that much rain. Still a great hike. Remember your permit as we did get checked on the way in.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nice, easy hike. Uphill on the way in. We went in March when it was supposed to be snowed in, but since we have no snow this year, it was clear. A little bit of ice at the lake though.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chose Pamelia Lake for our Memorial backpacking trip since we didn't want to get hindered by snow at some of the other trails in the Cascades. Nice hike up and a great view from our site (2). Lots of foot traffic through it though. Tried to hike up toward Hunts, but stopped at an unbridged crossing of Hunts Creek since the water was running pretty swift and high. Nice hike from Pamelia to there though with tons of little creeks and waterfalls to cross, worth the little excursion. Other hikers said there was snow not too much further up after the crossing. Easy trip to start getting ready for backpacking season but don't forget your NW Forest pass and online permit - ranger came around checking.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An easy hike to Pamelia Lake, but quite a bit more rigorous up to Hunts Cove. The views of Jefferson are excellent from the lake, there's easy access to the PCT, and the fishing is outstanding in Spring after the ice clears. Also there are some of the biggest Rhododendrons I've ever seen. 20' tall giants, which are spectacular in bloom.

Monday, September 09, 2013

this was an easy hike, but very pretty. great view of mount Jefferson . I didn't get a chance to do the hunts cove portion of the hike. spoke to some backpackers who said that it was awesome up there. so I will go back for that part of it.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Took my daughter on their first backpacking trip along this trail this weekend. Took some time getting to the lake (we earned the newbie title- oh boy!) but once we arrived it took no time to scout out a designated camp site and set up camp.

Attempted to fish, although I wouldn't recommend it. The sights, sounds and smells are amazing here. More foot traffic than I prefer but met some very nice people as they walked through our campsite (the trail). Would have like to make it to the old growth forest but our inexperience didn't leave much room for that.

There is another trip here in my near future. I will be leaving the 2.5 gallon jug of water in my car next time. (_)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My husband and I did a short backpacking trip in mid October of 2012 for our anniversary. Our intention was to go into Pamelia and make the Shale Lake/Hunt's Cove Loop in a couple of days. We ended up only doing an in and back overnighter to Shale Lake (since our tent sprang a leak in the middle of the night and a lot of our gear ended up soggy and heavy). The weather had been perfect the weekend before (when of course we couldn't go...) but was pretty dreary after about mid day on Friday the weekend we went - sporadic showers during the day and torrential rain at night. (I believe this would be a 5 star in my book if not for the crummy weather experience and lack of visibility from most of the viewpoints. I live for view...)

The trail is really lovely through the woods and an easy walk from the TH to Pamelia Lake. The lake's surrounding scenery, with close up views of Mt Jefferson, is gorgeous - especially on a nice clear day. However, standing on the lake's shore is not my favorite way to experience it. I'ld much rather be up at one of the viewpoints along the PCT between there and Shale Lake, taking in the scenery below and the view of the other peaks. The route we intended to take is a 17 mile loop with 2900' of elevation gain - Pamelia Lake / Mud Hole / Shale Lake / Hunt's Cove / Pamelia. There is some elevation gain between the TH and Pamelia, but not much. The majority is in the stretch between Pamelia to the Mud Hole/Shale Lake areas - approximately 4 miles. However, it's a fairly gradual gain with plenty of switchbacks winding along the hillside. We had our beagle mix mutt with us and, while it tired him out (which is next to impossible), a day of hiking this trail/7 miles didn't mean he couldn't play some fetch at camp.

The rise between Mud Hole Lake and Shale Lake looks to be an idea camp spot but we camped shy of there due to falling dark. After dark a group of hikers came through still trying to reach the lake before setting up camp. (Their itinerary was to scale the South side of Mt. Jefferson the next day.) Luckily they were well equipped and even had an altimeter with them so they had a good idea of the distance still left until the lake. These were the only people that we had seen all day and it made us feel a bit better that they admitted that it seemed like the trail map provided by the Detroit Ranger Station (with their permit for Pamelia) didn't seem to accurately match the actual trail experience. (The only way they had satisfied their "Where the &%$# is that lake?!" feeling that we had also had, was with the altimeter.)

We look forward to going back and completing this hike in better weather. The views will be spectacular from the PCT down into Pamelia Lake & the coves. We didn't plan on taking any of the side trips to Grizzly Peak, etc on this trip - but the photos I've seen lead me to believe these would be a worthwhile addition to the agenda if I planned on being in this area for a few days.

(My current profile picture is candid, from waking up that morning and realizing everything was soaked. #thankshusband...)

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