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South Sister Trail

HARD 782 reviews
#1 of 19 trails in

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
icy
muddy
no shade
off trail
rocky
snow
23 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 11/8 used the trekking poles glad I did Was a nice day

1 month ago

Hiked 11/2, up and down in 8.5 hours. A little icy in the lower sections but overall great conditions. Clear blue sky, warm, and no wind on the summit!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 11/2. Snow free for the top 1/3 of the trail, just a bit of mud/scree mix near the summit. Lower portion was a lot of hard pack snow and ice that was in the process of melting - made for a slower descent than expected. Absolutely perfect day, though - no wind at the summit and views as far as Mt Adams to the north.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 11/01, perfect conditions, did not require micro spikes and most of trail was clear. First half had some light snow cover w a little ice given that it’s tree covered.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

October 12th, 2019-Good conditions for first 4 miles. Last two encountered loose lava rocks and icy conditions. Doable, but definitely see the value in those sticks everyone else was using.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Summited 10/10 with a group of 7 with varying skill levels. Had snowed a couple days before and the coverage varied from a dusting to a couple feet. Started at 7:30am, made summit at 1 with decent amount of breaks. Used micro spikes on the last ascent above Tear Drop. We had clear blue skies the whole time. Views are incredible and the crater is so cool/other worldy. Used micro spikes and poles on the way down. Pretty essential. Upper descent was pretty difficult with the afternoon. slush. One of the harder hikes you’ll do but absolutely worth it.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Summited on Saturday 10/12. No spikes/poles/gaiters. Snow started to really be prevalent on the trail with 1.5 miles to the summit (between false summit and summit). Easy to walk around most of the snow, but go early before the snow gets sloshy. At the summit there was ice for 20 feet (I just sat down and slid) then foot prints and powder snow across the crater. Overall take caution but very doable!

hiking
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Hiked this on Saturday 10/12, and there were fewer people than I anticipated, leaving at 7:30 am. It was 25°F in the parking lot. Only saw two other hikers for first 4 miles, probably because most people had started in the dark to see the sunrise. Terrain gets much more difficult after the first 4 miles (steep with volcanic sand and some patches of old snow), The last two miles required several stops to rest, but with incredible views. The sun came out and I got down to a tank top, but definitely glad I had all of the warm gear (2 jackets and pants) with me. Also, I suggest having micro spikes, gaiters, poles, and emergency blanket. Crater crossing had a very icy crust of snow across it. Actual summit rock had no snow, but amazing chunks of re-frozen ice. My descent was almost the same speed as my ascent, mostly because I’m out of shape for climbing/trail running right now. Wanted to do this before cascade lakes highway got closed off for winter. So glad I did!

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Completed 10/5. One of the tougher day hikes I’ve ever done. I’d recommend spikes, poles, gaiters, sunscreen (!!!) and plenty of water/snacks. Go early (start before sunrise). The snow will be a mess by midday. I camped at Moraine Lake and begun the ascent at 8am. I wish I would have started earlier. The depth of snow varies. 2.5 feet in some places, whereas it may be closer to a half foot just a few feet away. Views are spectacular.

recorded South Sister Trail

hiking
muddy
snow
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

summited 10/6 some snow and definitely recommend poles or crampons but the view was incredible. tough hike

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Summited on 10/6 Sunday 2019 at 4:30am. Stayed on summit until 8AM. Witnessed sunrise. TOTALLY WORTH EVERY OUNCE of SWEAT. Especially if you’re a photographer. Trail conditions: snow and ice on trail but didn’t need to use traction on the ascent because I could follow in other’s footsteps or step off to the side where there was more rock than snow. Bring traction for the descent! Sunday was warm so maybe you could get away without it, but I found traction helpful since I descended early, but as I got closer to the trailhead, I could feel the heat of the sun! Sunscreen and sunglasses are necessary, but if you’re summiting for sunrise then you already know that. Passed a lot of unexperienced hikers on my descent. I wonder how many of them made it to the top. A lot of people were surprised by the amount of snow and ice on the trail. Trace to an inch or so near the beginning to several inches to a foot or more closer to the top and then at the top (e.g. snow drifts) I wish more people would attempt to summit during the night to witness sunrise. Stars were amazing and with no sun, I had to use my headlamp which was actually enjoyable. A bucket lister for sure. Made sure to pick a day where the conditions would be perfect: low wind, clear skies, warmer temps. Should be some more opportunities this year before having to don the snowshoes.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Snow in morning after the first mile and increasing in depth to about 8-12 inches on the edge of the crater. I had micro spikes but did not use. I saw others who did have them on though. Began at 6:00 and made it to the summit via direct crossing of the crater at 11:00. Back to the car by 2:30. Give yourself plenty of time on this one. I wish I had started earlier. Lots of melt happening which made for a messy decent. This hike is so worth it and the views at the top are spectacular.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

hiking
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Great day hike, I would recommend getting an early start. In my opinion the views from this mountain are the best when there is clear skies to the north. On a perfectly clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Adams in Washington.

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