Three Sisters Wilderness

Park in Bend

This beautiful 283,400-acre region spans the Cascade Range and is highlighted by the glaciered Three Sisters, three recent volcanic peaks each topping 10,000ft. The western slope of the wilderness is known for dense old-growth forest laced with strong rivers and streams. The storied Pacific Crest Trail, easily accessed from Hwy 242 at McKenzie Pass, traverses the area.

USFS Rd 19, also known as the Aufderheide Scenic Byway, edges the westernmost wilderness boundary as it makes the 76-mile connection between Rainbow on Hwy 126 and Westfir (near Oakridge) on Hwy 58. From French Pete Campground, one popular trail along this route leads up French Pete Creek through old-growth forest for about 3 miles.

Another good hike is to Green Lake Basin, on a high plateau between 9173ft Broken Top and 10,358ft South Sister. These celadon-green lakes are the centerpiece of a tremendous wildflower display in July and August, when the area throngs with crowds – especially on weekends. Park at the Green Lakes Trailhead along Hwy 46, above Sparks Lake, and hike north. The 4.4-mile trail is fairly steep but passes some great waterfalls.

Strong, experienced and prepared hikers should consider climbing South Sister. It's Oregon's third-highest peak, but during summer the southern approach doesn't demand any technical equipment. The steep 6-mile trail (4900ft elevation gain) begins near Devils Lake (just off the Cascade Lakes Hwy) and is passable only in late summer.

For more information on this region, contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District. Note that a Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the Green Lake Basin and South Sister trailheads.