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Santiam, Duffy, and Mowich Lakes Trail [CLOSED]

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Willamette National Forest

Santiam, Duffy, and Mowich Lakes Trail [CLOSED] is a 14.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sisters, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, horses, and backpacking and is best used from April until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 14.8 mi Elevation gain 2,132 ft Route type Out & Back
Dog friendly Backpacking Camping Hiking Horseback riding Forest Lake Wild flowers Wildlife Closed
Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Tips
Getting There

As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. See park page for more information.

There are bathrooms in the main parking lot, but no other facilities on the trail.

When going up the trail in summer, bring lots of water or be prepared to filter the lake water. These are high mountain hikes, so they can be a bit steep at times. The weather can be very cool and windy, so bring the Oregon hiking gear (rain and gold weather gear). Remember to camp and have camp fires at least 100 feet from the water and 100 feet from the trail. Pack it in, pack it out. Please do not leave trash behind.

Take US-20 to mile marker 80. You will see the Pacific Trail exit on the north side of the road. Take the exit and drive up the road to the main parking lot. The trail head marker is displayed with the self-pass information sheets available to fill out. You will also need a parking pass, which can be purchased and most of the stores like REI.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (15)
Photos (145)
Recordings (6)
Completed (41)
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Jane Marsh
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Hiking
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Jane Marsh
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Hiking
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Neil Banman
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Fishing

The trail was mostly sand. It was pretty, but views were limited going in. Nice views of the sisters going back. Skeeters were manageable. Lake Duffy was gorgeous, serene, and the perfect temperature for swimming. Also, the fish were jumping and the trout was delicious!

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Dylan Huber-Heidorn
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BackpackingSnow

Our 2 days on this trail were gorgeous and eerie and wet. We hit this trail last weekend, right in the middle of June, but the mountains still think it's sometime in March. The goal had been to make it to the lakes and back in 3 days, but we pulled up short when we hit serious snow in the high pass before Santiam Lake. A group ahead of us, whose bootprints we'd been following through the tricky parts, turned back and informed us head-high drifts were not far ahead. We found a flat, snowless place to camp, but be aware of the risk in this time of year. We also talked to several groups who weren't prepared for so much snow on the loop trail past Three-fingered Jack. The burn area was pretty amazing to hike through, actually. The drizzle and fog made it surreal, and we passed through all kinds of plants in different stages of spring awakening on our way up. We're looking forward to seeing changes in a different season (and maybe making it to a lake). No bugs. The damp weather kept the sandy trail packed down. Easy stream crossings. Snow bridges!

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Doug Wagers
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Hiking

Did this hike in early October. Everything was perfect. Great trail conditions and weather. It probably dipped into the high 20's overnight, so pack accordingly. Good time of year to do this hike because much of trail is sandy, and the recent rain kept the dust down. Also, we must have been the only people camping at Mowich Lake.

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Lucas Garvey
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Hiking

No bugs

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Amanda Neelands
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BackpackingBugs

If you like sand and mosquitoes this is the hike for you. The elevation wasn’t too bad but the fact that the trail was covered with sand made it more difficult. Lots of wildflowers! We didn’t stop to see if there were sites at Santiam or Duffy lakes but it was pretty slim pickings at Mowich although we did arrive late in the day. The mosquitoes were so thick and aggressive. They bit through a heavy layer of deet and clothing. I imagine this hike would be better at other times of the year and we expected bugs but wow! The lake was beautiful and peaceful but I don’t expect we will be back.

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Delilah Hunsperger
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BackpackingNo shadeSnow

my husband and I went to backpack. It was very beautiful and you could see all kinds of mountains! unfortunately there was ay least 4 feet of snow everywhere. we couldn't see the path and we had to walk up the driveway. I wouldn't recommend going this time of year. It was a warm 66 degrees but dropped to about 34 degrees at night. and due to the snow reflecting the sun, we got pretty sunburned. There is no shade due to a Forrest fire and there being almost no trees. But, I enjoyed it. It was beautiful and not too busy whatsoever. I'd love to come back as it warms up and do the full trail.

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Trisha Mark
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We did a one night backpacking trip in October. We met only a handful of people in our two days out there. The scenery was amazing. We followed Elk tracks most of the way but never saw any. Overall amazing experience and I hope to come back again and again.

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Damiano Seghetti
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Backpacking

This was a lovely hike. This hike is super easy to access and starts right off US-20, no long dirt roads or high clearance vehicles needed. First three miles are through beautiful blooming wildflower meadows. The trail is a bit dusty and exposed as you are hiking through a previous burn zone. Vegetation is growing but most of the new trees are under 10 feet tall. Our intention was to camp around Duffy lake but once we reached Santiam Lake (about 5-5.5 miles in) we saw that there were only a handful of campsite still open. We opted to snatch one up versus betting that Duffy would still have some. We are SO GLAD we camped at Santiam Lake as the next morning we continued the hiked to Duffy. We found Santiam to be so much more serene and easier to access the lake. Both lakes were warm and great spots to fish (literally tons of fish jumping out of the water). The Rangers were very active in this area and visited our campsite 3 times, which we found slightly excessive, especially since we were abiding by all regulations. They would just stop to check in. There are a TON of mosquitoes in the area so make sure to pack good bug spray.

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Shauna Mae
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Backpacking

This is a really beautiful area with a very easy hike in. We camped for only one night in October, but it was really magical as we had Duffy Lake entirely to ourselves.

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Ryan Chaney
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Backpacking

Hike started our GORGEOUS with a ton of wildflowers over the first mile or so. Relatively easy going for the most part, but there's still a fair amount of snow as you approach Santiam Lake... not enough to lose the trail, but enough to keep you paying attention to where the trail is! Tons of downed trees across the trail, especially between Santiam Lake and Duffy Lake. Duffy Lake was great once we got there... wonderful lakeside campsites, warm enough water for a quick dip, fishing and beautiful views of Duffy Butte!

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Sheris Pattdn
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Hiking
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Casey Toavs
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Hiking
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Sheri Ulich
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Backpacking