Southern Three Sisters Loop

HARD 27 reviews
#94 of 152 trails in

Southern Three Sisters Loop is a 40.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near La Pine, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking.

Distance: 40.2 miles Elevation Gain: 6,023 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

backpacking
2 months ago

I backpacked this loop (4 days, 3 nights) in late August in clear and sunny weather. Here are a few data points about this trip. ACCESS AND SCHEDULE I chose to start my trip from the Pole Creek TH but there are other options familiar to folks visiting the three-sisters area on a regular basis: start from the Green Lakes TH or from the South Sister TH; starting from the Park Meadows TH (3 creeks area) would make for a longer approach. All trailheads are (very) popular and better parking options may be available earlier, before day hikers hit the trail. Get a forest pass or pay the fee to park at the TH. While I spent a mildly leisurely 4 days (thu to sun) to complete the loop, it can clearly be completed faster (ultra runners will do it in a day) or slower, taking more time to appreciate particular areas on the route (possibly staying at camp lake to ascend Middle Sister, or at Green Lakes to ascend Broken Top). With a late start on day 1, I opted to camp at Demaris Lake (a bit less crowded than Camp Lake) and shared the lake only with another party. On the second day, crossed over to the PCT on the west side and camped at Mesa Springs (3 other groups but a lot of space to disperse-camp). I finally by Moraine Lake and Green Lakes (camp only on designated sites... did not found one I liked) before going over the pass to the east side and camping at Golden Lake (MANY neighbors there!). SCENERY Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... so my wonderment maybe above what others may experience. The variety of scenery made this particularly enjoyable for me. forests, lakes, streams, meadows, (wickiup) plains, wildflowers, closeup mountain views, dramatic alpine passes, etc. All this made every day a different and very enjoyable adventure. The least interesting section is the traverse of the Pole Creek burn area but two things make it a little more appealing: views of the summits and several strongly flowing and refreshingly cold streams and creeks (often with lush vegetation and wildflowers on their banks) My favorites: Chambers Lakes basin, Meadows and wildflowers around Separation and Mesa Creeks, the Wickiup plains, Green Lakes basin (of course...but a bit too many visitors around for my taste), Golden Lake, Park Meadows, the various branches of Wychus creek (even if they are mostly in the burn area) DIFFICULTY The trail conditions are quite good all the way around. The total elevation gain was around 6000 feet, most of it, of course when crossing west/east and east/west. The total distance came a tad over 40 miles but that is because I chose to camp at 'off route' locations (Demaris and Golden Lakes). Camping on the route would result in a total mileage around 37 or 38 miles. TRAFFIC This is not a solitude experience for sure (especially if sticking to the shortest route). The trail is shared with day-hikers (especially in the Green Lakes / South Sisters area), with other "loopers" doing the complete loop, the northern loop, or this southern loop. I also still met a significant contingent of PCT thru and section hikers. However, most camping locations (except the restricted Moraine and Green lakes) offer an ample supply of decent to excellent spots to setup for the night. WATER Ample opportunities from lakes and streams. The only dry-ish sections are: between between the Chambers lake basin (5 miles) and Mesa Creek;between Mesa Creek and Moraine lake (5.5 miles); between the TH and the first Creek crossing at the 2 miles mark. Always better to filter water if in doubt of course! WIND... the constant companion of the evenings. I was lucky enough to find spots to pitch my tent that were protected from the evening and nightly thermal winds... but I don't sleep well with persistent noise and ending up using earplugs on one night!

hiking
2 months ago

NB: I recorded this trail starting at the TOP of the mountain rather than at the trailhead due to troubles I had with the app. Obviously going up resulted in a much greater elevation gain. Stayed at Camp Lake the first night, then day hikes over the pass to visit the two Chambers Lakes. Loved crossing the ice fields! Spent our last night at Demaris Lake near the cliffs on the east side (make sure you visit the natural bridge and waterfall). Windy at all three sites, but at least that kept the mosquitoes down! We had a great time hiking through the burnout from years ago. Lots of regrowth— new pines, firs, and hemlocks less than six years old. Lots of flowers, lupines, fireweed, etc.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

We climbed the south ridge and descended the North route. The south side is steep and rocky. The north side has a scramble near the summit but is a more pleasure able route. There is quite a few water sources as the snow is melting away. I did make a video for the climbing group I belong to. It documents the south ascent and the more dangerous part of the North side. It’s on you tube. Have fun and be safe up there.

backpacking
2 months ago

recorded Chambers Lakes Basin Trail

hiking
2 months ago

recorded Chambers Lakes Basin Trail

hiking
2 months ago

recorded Chambers Lakes Basin Trail

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
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hiking
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hiking
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hiking
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hiking
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hiking
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hiking
3 months ago

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3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

hiking
Friday, August 10, 2018

hiking
Saturday, August 12, 2017

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