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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Three Sisters Loop Oregon

September 21-23, 2018
~60 miles

The Three Sisters Loop is one of the classic Oregon backpacking loops with outstanding scenery of the one of the most beautiful areas in Oregon. This is a very popular loop and beginning in 2020 very strict permit regulations will begin. I had the opportunity to simply fill out a self-issued permit at the trailhead.

I hiked the main loop clockwise with several side trips, generally following the instructions in Douglas Lorain's Backpacking Oregon book. 

One difference from Lorain's route, I began the adventure from the Green Lakes Trailhead hiking clockwise. I arrived the night before and was able to find a campsite at Devil's Lake. 

I had taken Friday off work and starting early Friday morning, the Green Lakes Trailhead was empty. The reason I started from the Green Lakes Trailhead was because I planned to hike clockwise and wanted to be able to hike a full day and not be limited by camping restrictions in the Obsidian Limited entry area. Also, the trail along Fall Creek looked like it would be scenic.

The Fall Creek Trail quickly entered the Three Sisters Wilderness area.

There were several beautiful waterfalls along the trail.

After a gradual climb, I reached a trail junction and turned toward Moraine Lake. The scenery was unusual.

Moraine Lake and South Sister

There is a trail from Moraine Lake to the top of South Sister, but I didn't have time to summit.

I made my way over toward the PCT and the trail was wide and easy hiking.

I made it to the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the most spectacular trails in the world.

I saw a couple other hikers but the trail didn't seem all that busy.

I could see both Middle Sister and South Sister.

There was another "family member" nearby but I don't remember which one it is.

Middle Sister

I stopped to get some water at a small pond with a great view of South Sister.

I detoured off the PCT to Linton Meadows,  Husband Lake, and Eileen Lake.

The trail went through some nice meadows.

Husband Lake

Husband Lake and South Sister

Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

South Sister

There were some fall colors in the bushes along the trail.

Back on the PCT there was great open hiking with a view of Middle Sister.

There was a distant view to the west.

After a long day, I reached the Obsidian Limited entry area boundary. There was lots of interesting, shiny obsidian beside the trail.

Camping isn't allowed in the Obsidian area without a permit so prior to entering the area, I went to the west of the trail and found a beautiful camp site.

There was an outstanding view to the north. I think the pointy mountain is Three-Fingered Jack.

North and Middle Sister

The sun began to shine under the clouds.

It was a nice sunset.

The moon began to rise over South Sister as I went to sleep.

I awoke the next morning to cloudy skies and the first rain I had experienced in Oregon since I arrived in early August.

Within a short distance I reached Obsidian Falls.

Then I hiked through the wind and fog.

The terrain was very unique in this area.

Opie Dilldock Pass

South Matthieu Lake

I turned south and began the eastern side of the loop. Much of this portion of the loop has been burned by forest fire. The rain stopped and the sun came out partly.

North Sister

I enjoyed distant views to the east.

North Sister

I decided I had time to go five miles up to Camp Lake to spend the night.

It was cloudy and I wasn't sure what all the mountains I was seeing were.

The Three Sisters were in the clouds.

I made it to Camp Lake and there were several other groups camped nearby. It was windy and I looked for a sheltered place to camp.

The trail wasn't maintained but kept going up to a pass between South and Middle Sister I believe. I didn't go any further.

Camp Lake

Camp Lake

I found a somewhat shelter spot on Northwestern ridge above the lake.

I awoke in the night and discovered by moonlight, that the South Sister was towering over the lake.

In the morning there was great morning light on the mountains.

South Sister

Camp Lake and South Sister

South Sister, Camp Lake, and Middle Sister

Camp Lake, Middle Sister, and North Sister

I packed up camp and started the journey back to my car. There was frost on the ground.

There were great mountain views as I descended.

Broken Top Mountain

Soon I was back on the main loop.

Squaw Creek (I believe)

Much of the hiking in this section was in the forest, but I came to a small pond.

Park Meadow offered nice views of Broken Top.

I could see distant mountains, maybe Mount Washington and Jefferson.

I reached a pass above Green Lakes.

Broken Top

South Sister

Green Lakes

The water was so clear!

South Sister from Green Lakes

There were nice reflections.

Soon I was back on the Fall Creek Trail and the loop was almost complete.

I made it back to find the parking lot completely full and many cars parked out on the road, quite the contrast to when I had left my car parked by itself.

Overall, this was a wonderful loop for my first backpacking adventure in Oregon. I really enjoyed seeing the Three Sisters from different perspectives as I hiked around them. The trails didn't seem overly crowded except for at Green Lakes and Fall Creek when I was leaving. I think starting Friday morning helped significantly. The hiking is fairly easy. Some of the trail on the eastern side is sandy and not as scenic due to recent forest fires.

About Me

I've been born and raised in the great state of Michigan. I recently graduated from physical therapy school. I enjoy being active, playing sports, and running. Backpacking has become a great interest as it is a physical challenge that provides many rewarding views and experiences. I strive to make a difference in the lives of those encounter in every day life, on the trail, or even just on this blog. May God bless each of you. Now go find an adventure! It's only a few feet away!