South Sister Trail

HARD 94 reviews
#2 of 93 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.

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

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

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.

backpacking
2 months ago

My first Official backpacking trip. I did this trip back in August of 2010 and it was AMAZING!!! I would DEFINITELY recommend this trip to the next person.

2 months ago

6 months ago

Fun adventure :) beautiful .
Always be prepared and safe .
Defiantly a challenge .

7 months ago

7 months ago

Most challenging and most rewarding hike I've done so far. We were lucky enough to have a cloudless sky. We weren't as physically prepared as we could have been, but got an early start and took our time. Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to do this again. Heard the might start limiting access from a local on the trail.

hiking
7 months ago

Aside from the skree near the top, exposure, and hundreds of hikers, this is one of the best hikes I've been on in a long time. The countless hikers were actually more of a source of motivation than hindrance. Great hike, good times, and a worthy challenge.

hiking
8 months ago

8 months ago

This hike was amazing! My cousin and I hiked into moraine lake and stayed there Friday night, even though it was freezing at night, it was worth it. Than we woke up and started hiking at around 730! Very heavily trafficked trail and a very popular hike. We made it to the top and summited in 5 hours from the lake. It took us longer because we took a lot of breaks! The trail is easy to follow, and not too hard, you hike over a lot of rocks before making it to the ridge by lake and that part is difficult. That last mile up the ridge is REAALLY HARD! It's all worth it though, amazing views and beautiful scenery!

hiking
8 months ago

Fun challenging fantastic views! The last half mile of this hike poses some definite shortness of breath and steep grades just short of scrambling. Sharp lava rock can slice you open quite easily. The false summit and true summit offer splendid views of broken top bachelor spark lake morraine lake hells lake elk lake middle and north sister mount Jefferson mount hood Rainer and even Mount St. Helens on a clear day.

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Awesome, tough hike. Actually easier than expected after reading a ton of reviews but certainly a challenge and without a doubt the hardest hike I have been on by far. Great views make every step worth it. I didn't notice the loose ground going up as much as I did going down. I thought the last mile of the return trip (first mile of the trail) was the most difficult because by that time my knees were hurting after the constant steep downhill grade. Definitely will do it again.

hiking
8 months ago

By far my favorite go-to day hike. Gorgeous views, challenging inclines, nice cool weather with snowcapped summit at the top. Teardrop pool is beautiful, the meadows are gorgeous. I would definitely recommend! Can't wait to take my son when he is a little older!

8 months ago

8 months ago

8 months ago

Great hike! Awesome views up and amazing ones coming down. 3 liters of water is a good call. Or filter it there's plenty on trail. So are mid boots with gators. First 4 miles are easy and pleasant. 5th mile is tough and the 6th is tougher. Top is windy. Went for pictures and it didn't disappoint.

hiking
9 months ago

9 months ago

Personally I loved this hike. Lots and lots of tough incline hiking. There is a nice break in the middle but then you're right back to the incline. The higher you get the looser the footing too. If you go on a clear day the scenery is exceptionally hard to match in quality.

9 months ago

Very tough, and I've summited St Helens and Adams. Either this was tougher, or I'm not as good of shape this year. Beautiful view from the top. 24 hours later, I can say it was worth the pain.

hiking
9 months ago

A really nice, but challenging, hike. Unbelievable views and supportive fellow hikers. Proud of my eight year old for sticking with it, even though the wind and steepness were getting the best of her. Good hike for experienced hikers or people in good shape. Bring fall/winter clothes for the summit, like most peeks in the PNW. Views and sense of accomplishment make it worth the effort.

9 months ago