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South Sister Trail is a 12.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sisters, 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: 12.2 miles Elevation Gain: 4,898 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

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.

hiking
snow
8 hours ago

hiking
17 hours ago

Hiked yesterday. Fantastic weather and trail conditions. Hit the trail at about 7 and we’re in the top before 11. Micro spikes were nice on the way up and allowed us to go straight up the snow. Saw many people doing it in just trail runners.

hiking
1 day ago

Started hiking at 5:15 am, got to the summit around 11:00. Fantastic trail, bluebird day, all around great. You can decide if you want a non-technical or slightly more complicated route. There's an obvious trail the whole time (which we took back) but we decided to climb straight up. There were a couple moments where the slope grade really tested our microspikes, and a particularly sketchy (to me) part near the summit that would have been scary without spikes and poles, but we saw people without either. Crampons are definitely unnecessary.

hiking
1 day ago

Awesome slog and hands down the best summit I've seen. Sent 7/4/20. Microspikes, poles and lots of water because it got warm. I fell for the false summit (even though I knew it was there!) but the grueling final mile and view from the top were epic. We were able to glissade down a bit as the snow got a bit slushier in the late morning.

hiking
2 days ago

Went up yesterday, 7/2, and it was a gorgeous blue bird day with no wind. The views are incredible at the top, I’d say one of the most beautiful spots in Oregon with views of Broken Top, Middle and North Sister, Mt Bachelor and Jefferson. There is still quite a bit of snow on the trail (which is melting fast), with patches starting a little over a mile out. We had microspikes which worked out well going up, and brought an ice axe for some killer glisading. Treking poles were handy for the decent as there is a bunch of loose skree at the very top. We left around 6:15am and it took us about 5 hours to summit. Great hike!!

hiking
2 days ago

Super cool summit and trail. Conditions were great but definitely start early and make sure you have an ice ax or micro spikes for the way down. I made it up fine in trail runners and had crampons/ boots for the way down which was overkill. Also lots of dogs and definitely doable for them without protection for their paws (again, just start early!) Beautiful day and views!

hiking
3 days ago

Snow was solid/icy on the way up at 6 or 7 in the morning, but turned soft/slushy during my descent as temps rose. Camped at Moraine Lake the night before, and the views in the morning as the fog/clouds burned off were amazing. If you do that, I suggest leaving your camping gear at Moraine Lake. Beautiful views at the top, and climbing from the false summit to the true summit is very minor - almost like a little victory lap.

hiking
snow
6 days ago

Beautiful hike. Lots of snow. We had micro spikes, but wished we had crampons and an ice axe. Very slippery coming down.

hiking
snow
6 days ago

Incredible, incomparable views worth every grueling step on the way up. Still lots of snow and the final climb can feel a bit treacherous with harsh winds and whiteouts. Micro spikes helped a ton, but absolutely would have felt a lot safer with trek poles. Took about 5 hours to make it up with my mutt and about 2.5 hours down with some killer glissading and bounding down in the snow. What an experience!

hiking
icy
no shade
snow
7 days ago

Great hike and the views are well worth the effort. Very windy at sandy plain, Cinder Ridge and at the Summit. Lots of snow throughout the trail. Gloves would have been nice after Sandy Plain.

hiking
no shade
snow
8 days ago

If you’re reading this, do yourself a big favor and send this. It’s hard but well well worth the grind. On a clear day you are able to see what seems to be almost endlessly up the spine of the cascade range. Additionally, at the summit you’re above the clouds which always feels pretty special. That being said, make sure you get an early start as it’s much easier to gain traction on each step when the snow is firm. There may be some inevitable post holing on the descent however (depending on start time) which is why you’re better off just glissading! For more info on trails and hikes check out my Instagram, @alex.morose

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked this trail on 6/26- started at 7am and we reached the summit around noon! Microspikes were definitely helpful on the way up and poles saved me on the way down especially on the steep parts! Unfortunately we had so much fun glissading down that we ended up off trail and needed our GPS to get back on trail! Challenging hike and the views are more than worth the effort!

hiking
13 days ago

Round two after 5 days, the weather was gorgeous and met a lot of groups coming up. Actually made the summit this time lol. Attached are pictures of conditions - even in the 5 day period, the ice and snow had melted substantially. Really mushy by midday, I reached the summit around 11:30 am and was struggling on the descent to keep from sliding. Didn't need snowshoes, but the spikes came in handy

hiking
no shade
snow
14 days ago

Hit the trailhead at 7am ( wish we hit it 6:30 though) . It took a little over 5 hours to summit and 2 1/2 to descend ( with some glacading involved). The trip starts as a dirt path until about a mile in. Then the snow starts. There are some more rockier trail closer to summit. I mostly wore a hat, compression pants, shorts, long sleeve compression, T-shirt and light jacket. Gloves and a warmer jacket helped at summit, where the winds ramped up some. I hiked it with adidas continentals low cuts, so I wore snow gaters too. My feet were fully wet 1/2 to summit. So, bring extra socks if you don’t like wet feet. Micro spikes were very helpful. I did not use trekking poles, but they would have defiantly been useful. We saw several folks skiing down and snowboarding down. Most skiers seemed to hit it earlier than our crew; and were descending as we were nearing summit around noon. The ascent taxed and burned my legs most of the way . Although, the descent was much more enjoyable. One reason why I wished we would have left earlier is because we were post-holing some on the descent( not terribly though). Defiantly recommend starting this hike early to avoid that, especially on the way up. One thing I forgot that I wish I had were glasses. 6/21/20 was great sunny day with no precipitation. All my buddies used sunscreen, and they still got burnt. We climbed higher than the overcasts skies. Still great views at the top. Great trail & defiantly worth it! To seem more footage from the hike -> Instagram: @jesyahphotography & @mrjwhite3

hiking
15 days ago

Absolutely awesome hike. Lots of snow and very steep, be prepared!

backpacking
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
15 days ago

This summit was fun! Definitely the first “hard” rating I agree with so far. This is a tough one going up especially if it’s windy But on a good day the views are amazing once you’re out of the first part in the trees, all the way until you’re on the summit and then it’s even better. definitely recommend, lakes were frozen over this time but if they ever were not it would make an epic camping spot, took just under 9 hours out and back to the summit we slid down the snow a lot on the way down, legs are tired.

hiking
no shade
scramble
snow
17 days ago

Hiked on 6/18/20 Started from the trailhead at 8:30AM. In hindsight, this was later than optimal because the trail became slushy and it would be useful to have a lot of time. However, people descending told us that early in the morning the trail was difficult because it was frozen. So, it is a bit of a balancing act. I believe that temperatures were in the mid-70's, which was quite toasty because there was remarkably little wind. We saw approximately 20 people on the trail. We did not summit, but made it to teardrop lake in 6 hours and descended in 4 hours. During the initial steep section through the woods the trail was not obvious and there were footsteps leading in various directions. So, a GPS was useful at that point. I had microspikes and an ice axe. I think that having no traction devices would be a problem, but crampons weren't really needed. I appreciated having the ice axe though it wasn't needed. People who don't feel very secure would probably like it. My hiking partner switched out of microspike and into crampons on occasion, which she appreciated. Sun block needed to be applied liberally and frequently. Additional sun protection such as a hat was very valuable. Sunglasses were imperative.

recorded South Sister Trail

hiking
18 days ago

Made it less than a mile to the summit. Done on June 17th, 2020. Good amount of skiers going up, would have made it except for altitude sickness. The trail was pretty clear from all the tracks

hiking
snow
21 days ago

Bruuuuuuh.... a must.

hiking
no shade
snow
25 days ago

Summited yesterday (6-8-20). Not much snow until nearing Moraine Lake TR. #17.1. From here to the summit there was still a significant amount of snow. Ice ax and crampons recommended to reach the summit. Left the trailhead at 6:30, reached the summit at 1:00 and back to the car by 4. On the way out the snow had significantly melted.

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