South Sister Trail

HARD 127 reviews
#3 of 95 trails in

South Sister Trail is a 11.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bend, Oregon that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
11.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4983 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no shade

South Sister is the third tallest mountain in Oregon and the tallest of the famous three sister chain. A relatively non-technical climb in winter and volcanic ridge in summer, South Sister is a long, but straight forward climb year round. The summit offers up unparalleled views of Middle Sister, North Sister, Three Fingered Jack, and all the way to Mount Hood or even into Washington on a clear day while the southern view includes Broken Top and nearby Mount Bachelor. The traditional route starts from Devil's lake campground crossing over highway 46 before making a forest ascent to the South Sister base. From there it is a long switch back / ridge climb to a false summit and then over the crater to the true peak. In winter the climb offers long runs for adventurous ski-mountaineers but routes are not marked or clearly maintained. While the climb is considered non-technical, there are steep sections in low snow periods and open crevasses along the climbing route.

hiking
5 days ago

12 days ago

Currently closed due to fire activity

hiking
24 days 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.

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was an awesome hike but make no mistake, it's a very hard hike. I'd consider myself an experienced hiker, having done many other summits at greater distance and higher elevation. However, this hike is among the hardest I've done. The elevation gain over such a short distance is challenging. The last 2 miles are very tough as the terrain becomes very loose and steep. We planned to summit in about 3.5 hours and ended up taking about 5.5 hours to get to the top. That's how challenging this hike can be. But all the challenges made the view at the top just that much more worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

What an experience! Seeing the middle and north sister from there was absolutely breathtaking. It took me 4.5 hours to summit and about 3 to return, with about 45 minutes at the summit. Hiking poles are a must on the red ridge and generally very helpful due to lack of oxygen. Gators were also very helpful on the descent and crossing glaciers. Apple Watch said it was 12.57 miles total from Devils Lake Trailhead. Amazing!

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing trail, very sectioned out with different landscapes and sceneries. I started at Devils Lake trail, so it was closer to 12.5 miles. Ascended in 4:30 on 8/11. It was clear when we started, and we were surrounded by thunderstorms by the last mile of the ascent. Very strenuous trail, especially last 1.25 miles with loose red rock. Brought our dogs (two small poodle breeds) and their feet were worn and raw by the time we summited. Between storm clouds and smoke haze from nearby forest fires, we didn't have a clear view, but what we could see was fantastic. No sure water access, but we did find a small glacier fed trickle about 4 miles up. Moraine lake is about 2 miles up, but .5 miles off trail. I recommend bringing all the water you will need. Took us 8.5 hours total, with a 45 min lunch stop. The butterflies had to be he most amazing thing... they were around from start to finish but we're numerous at the summit. If you stand still (long enough to stop breathing hard) you can hear the flutter of their wings. Will do again on a clearer day.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the assent in 4:15 and we are in good hiking shape. It is definitely a strenuous hike more than just the amount of altitude you have to climb. The scree makes it feel like you are walking uphill on a beach. But, its all worth it at the top and for the sense of achievement. I'll just reinforce here that you have to be vigilant about weather changes. Most of the way up, it was crystal clear, but by the time we got to that last long ridge of scree, the storm clouds were building and by the time we summitted, there were storms raging on the far side of the mountain. Fortunately, they didn't make it to the trail side on our descent.

hiking
1 month ago

Superbe montagne. Aller retour très intéressant demandant une bonne condition physique.

hiking
1 month ago

Super beautiful and challenging hike. I highly recommend camping over night at Lake Moraine because the first mile is pretty steep. It was really nice to break up the hike into two sections. The first mile 3/4 is moderately up hill. Once you hit Moraine, there is a nice warm up 1/2 mile or so that is pretty flat with a few rolling hills. Then you hit the elevation climb and it's steadily difficult all the way to the summit. We took a short rest at tear drop lake and ate some snacks. The last mile is definitely the hardest with scree and rocks to navigate. Once you get to the top, hike to the right around the ridge. The views are incredible.

For the love of god, please don't bring your dog up south sister. The scree and sharp rocks cut up their paws, and there is no water source. Not to mention how hot the ground gets. If it's 75 outside, the ground could be as hot as 120. I have an adventure dog, and I would never bring her up South Sister. I saw multiple people carrying their dogs down the mountain.

hiking
1 month ago

Was an excellent hike with excellent views and very glad it's off the bucket list now!!! Was a very hard hike( to me) but so worth it!

1 month ago

Left at 2pm with 45oz of water. BRING MORE WATER, you will be exposed to the sun all the way! By 4:30/5pm I was at the Glacier but had to go down as I had no water left at all. It is a challenging hike especially in the snowy portions.
I will definitely come back for a morning start and some more water!

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was my first mountain and it was incredible! I thought about quitting after the first false summit, but with some encouragement from my partner and other climbers I persisted. The elevation was making me nauseous and light headed, but water and chocolate will fix just about anything. The scree is definitely something to keep in mind and I wish that I had brought trekking poles. If you plan to make the summit in the summer, make sure to bring sunscreen as it is very exposed and lots of water or a filtration system.The views from the top are amazing and so incredibly worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

amazing hike! its grueling. its worth it. you think oh maybe this is good enough, I will turn back. But never give in.. The summit is beyond worth it. Slow and steady will win this race. And just bring tons of water. also never forget to leave a gallon of extra water at base camp or in car! sun screen, bug spray and food. Also have gators. There will be slush...start early end early...it will take an average hiker, with a 30 min break..around 7-10 hours. up and back.

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Definelty some work! Took us 8 hours and we started at 2pm. Bring trekking pokes for the down hill. Scree and rocks and rough and makes it kinda cool. I brought and drank a gallon of water.