UPDATE: As of spring 2017, permits are no longer required for camping in Jefferson Park. For more info, visit our Permits page.

In a move to try to reduce the impact of too many hikers’ boots and tents, Willamette National Forest will begin requiring permits to camp in the Jefferson Park area. This popular camp area on the north side of Mount Jefferson features several pristine lakes and sprawling berry and wildflower meadows, and is considered one of the backcountry jewels of Oregon’s Cascade Range. Located right on the Pacific Crest Trail, and a moderate 7-mile hike from the Pamelia Lake trailhead, Jefferson Park receives an abundance of weekend backpackers and PCT thru-hikers every summer. Unfortunately, this use is taking a toll on the fragile mountain environment.

Beginning with the summer of 2016, the Detroit Ranger District will implement a new permit requirement for use of campsites in Jefferson Park from Memorial Day to October 31. The permit system will apply to all 30 designated campsites in the larger park area, distributed around Scout, Bays, Rock, Park and Russell lakes. This effort will help the Forest Service, in cooperation with the Pacific Crest Trail Association, to decommission many of the social trails that crisscross the area, and restore portions of this sensitive alpine environment.

Permits for camping at Jefferson Park’s designated lake campsites may be obtained through Recreation.gov. Permits cost only $6 and are not restricted to a specific group size. PCT thru-hikers and weekenders can still camp in the area without a permit, but camps must be made at existing durable sites (not on vegetation), be least 250 feet from any water source, and should follow general Leave No Trace guidelines and be at least 100 feet from trails.

Map of designated campsites in Jefferson Park area. Map courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.
Map of designated campsites in Jefferson Park area, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

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