Trail Report: August 14
UPDATE: Apparently, the Three Sisters Wilderness was a shooting gallery for lightning in last week’s thunderstorms. There are 25 new spots fires burning in the area and the PCT is now officially closed in the area! See below for more info.
Trail conditions got you down? Need a break from the snow, blowdown, bugs, heat and wildfires? Hop off the trail this week and make your way to Cascade Locks for PCT Days! Come hang with fellow frustrated hikers and drown your trail sorrows in good food, good beer, good music and good times! There will be guest speakers, info seminars, gear sales and a prize raffle. And hikers can camp right there on Thunder Island. PCT Days kicks off on Friday (8/18) at 2pm. See you there!
the recent extended heatwave across the state helped melt out some of the last areas still covered in their winter blankets. The trail is now almost entirely clear of cold, white stuff. Skirting blowdown continues to be challenging in some areas, including the Sky Lakes Wilderness and portions of the Mt. Hood Wilderness. PCTA will be getting into the Sky Lakes area with two logout crews to help clear the mess. If you’re not hiking, experienced in logout and crosscut work, and interested in joining one of these crews to help clear the trail for fellow hikers, check out these trips here:
NEW WILDFIRE – Three Sisters — The Forest Service on both the Willamette and Deschutes have officially closed the Pacific Crest Trail, and most surrounding trails, in the Three Sisters Wilderness. The PCT closure stretches from Elk Lake to Lava Camp Lake (OR miles 261–291; PCT miles 1,950–1,980; Map 1). There is little information yet on the extent of this incident and it is currently being grouped with the Whitewater Fire. We will continue following and provide updates as they become available. The following trails/areas are closed:
- PCT from Elk Lake to Lava Camp Lake (OR miles 261–291; PCT miles 1,950–1,980)
- Trails: Black Crater, Millican Crater, Obsidian, Scott Pass, North Matthieu Lake, Trout Creek Tie, Green Lakes to Pole Creek to Scott Pass, Moraine Lake from South Sister Climber Trail to Leconte Crater, Leconte Crater, Devils Lake, Mirror Lakes, Elk-Devils, and Horse Lake; Millican Crater Trailhead, Scott Pass Trailhead.
- Sisters Mirror Lake, Wickiup Plains, Obsidian LEA
To avoid the closure area, NOBO hikers should exit the trail at Elk Lake; SOBO hikers should exit at McKenzie Pass. PCT hikers can still skirt around the east side of the closure area by using the Green Lakes and Park Meadows trails (see below). If you need assistance, try contacting one of the Bend-area Trail Angels.
- DETOUR (NOBO): Exit the PCT at Elk Lake.
- Walk the Cascade Lakes Hwy 2 miles north to South Sister Climber Trail (#36).
- Hike 2 miles north to Morraine Lake Trail (#17.1).
- Hike 2.3 miles east to Green Lakes Trail (#17).
- Hike 12 miles north to Pole Creek Trail (#4072).
- Descend 1.5 miles northeast to Pole Creek Trailhead at FR-15.
- Walk 11 miles northeast on FR-15 to Hwy 242
- Sisters is 1 mile east; the PCT at McKenzie Pass is 14 miles west.
WHITEWATER FIRE – Mt. Jefferson — Now burning on both the west and south sides of the mountain, this fire has consumed more than 6,500 acres and has crossed the Crest into the Deschutes NF; an expanded closure has been issued. The PCT remains closed thru the area, from Minto Pass to Breitenbush Lake, and Jefferson Park is completely inaccessible. The following trails/areas are closed:
- PCT from Minto Pass to Breitenbush Lake (OR mile 320–348; PCT mile 2,009–2,037)
- Trails: Bingham Ridge, Minto Mountain, Pamelia Lake, Woodpecker, Whitewater, Roaring Creek, Crown Lake, Brush Creek, Cabot Lake, Jefferson Lake
- Jefferson Park, Cheat Creek, Triangulation Peak, Leone Lake, South Breitenbush, Crown Lake, Bear Valley, Rockpile Lake, Cabot Lake, Jefferson Lake, Brush Creek
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way around this closure. If you’re thru-hiking and need to get around this area, following is the recommended option. If you need assistance, try contacting one of the Bend-area Trail Angels.
- DETOUR: Exit the PCT at Santiam Pass (Hwy 20) and find transport north to Breitenbush Lake or Olallie Lake.
HIGH CASCADES COMPLEX – Crater Lake — The Spruce Lake and Blanket Creek fires have been combined into one incident now. Forest crews have contained about 60% of the 10,000-acre fire, however the PCT remains closed thru most of the park. The good news is that West Rim Drive and the Rim Trail are reopened; you should still expect smoke in the area. The following trails/roads/areas are closed:
- PCT from S Park Boundary to Hwy 62/Mazama Village (OR mile 123–129 PCT mile 1,812–1,818)
- PCT from Dutton Creek to N Entrance Road (OR mile 131–147; PCT mile 1,821–1,837)
- Trails: Union Peak, Stuart Falls, Pumice Flat, Discovery Point, Lightning Springs, Boundary Springs, Bald Crater Loop, Bert Creek
With the southern park boundary closed, NOBO PCT thru-hikers can’t directly access Mazama Village. Here is the recommended alternate route out of the Sky Lakes Wilderness.
- DETOUR: Exit the PCT onto the Sevenmile Trail (#3703) and hike approximately 3 miles to the Sevenmile Marsh Trailhead on FR-3334. Walk the forest road east, then south, for 5.4 miles to FR-33/Nicholson Road. Continue east on Nicholson for 4.2 miles to Fort Klamath at OR-62. Put out your thumb and start walking the highway north; Mazama Village is 16 miles ahead.
INDIAN CREEK FIRE – Columbia Gorge — This small fire continues to smolder and burn in steep underbrush, but has been contained to just 84 acres. The PCT remains open, and water can be obtained at Indian Springs, but all other closures remain in effect. The following trails/areas are closed
Trails: Eagle Creek (south of Wy’East Camp), Indian Springs, Chinidere Cutoff, Eagle Benson, Tanner Butte, east Eagle Tanner
Indian Springs and Wahtum Lake campgrounds
PCT hikers can proceed through the Wahtum Lake corridor and continue to Cascade Locks by way of the Benson Plateau.
ALTERNATE: Use the Herman Creek Trail (#406) as another option for descending to Cascade Locks. On the north side of Wahtum Lake, veer off the PCT and descend thru a comparably lush river canyon, replete with plenty of its own cascading falls. When you reach Herman Creek CG, turn onto the Herman Bridge Trail (#406E) and approximately 2 miles west to reconnect with the PCT.
OTHER FIRES: Two more wildfires have erupted in Oregon in the last week: the Nena Springs Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation, and the Rebel Fire in the western Willamette Nat’l Forest. The latter is just over 800 acres, while the former is a whopping 40,000 acres! Neither of these fire are in proximity to the PCT, however you may see and experience smoke from these when in the vicinity.
CAMPFIRES: Most forest agencies have put a complete ban on all campfires—including in developed campgrounds. Hikers are still permitted to use contained-gas stoves for cooking, but extreme caution should be taken to avoid any accidents.
After a bit of cooling over the weekend, temps across the state will start edging up this week—but not too badly. The week will start with most areas in the low to mid-60s; Diamond Peak and Mount Hood will be a bit cooler, while McKenzie Pass a bit warmer. Temps will peak approaching the weekend in the low to mid-70s (with the same regional exceptions), then ease off again. Overnights will range between the mid-40s and mid-50s. Conditions will be mostly sunny through the week, however the southern regions will experience haze and smoke from the fires. Click on the links below for detailed forecasts.
The forecast for Cascade Locks is looking pretty great for PCT Days this week. Daytime temps will be in the low 80s, with overnights hovering around 60. Hope you can join us!
2017 Solar Eclipse
Jefferson Park has been closed for eclipse viewing. It’s still possible, however to catch the eclipse in the Path of Totality from the PCT. Check out our Updated Eclipse Guide for info on where you can still get a front-row seat for this month’s celestial event!
Most water sources in the state are still full and flowing relatively well. The following are a few sources that may not be reliable, so you should plan accordingly.
Brown Mtn Shelter (OR mile 72; PCT mile 1761) — Recent hiker reports indicate that the pump is still broken. We have been nagging the Forest Service about this every week, to no avail. At this point, it’s not looking good that this will be resolved this season. The creek about 1 mile north is reported to have a small flow a little ways upstream.
Honeymoon Creek (OR mile 110; PCT mile 1800) — A couple still pools, but usable.
Lemiti Creek (OR mile 363; PCT mile 2052) — A little discolored, but usable.
Salvation Spring (OR mile 427; PCT mile 2116 — Low flow, but usable.
If you have recent information on water conditions along the PCT in Oregon, please send us an update to share with your fellow hikers.
All highways and secondary roads accessing the PCT’s primary trailheads are open and clear.
• Crater Lake National Park – West Rim Road is periodically closed for construction, but otherwise open again. All other park roads and facilities are open.
• Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (OR-46) – Road is open and trailheads are clear.
• McKenzie Pass Hwy (OR-242) – Road is open and trailheads are clear; Lava Camp Lake is open.
Check Oregon’s road conditions at ODOT.
Thanks to these PCT hikers for sharing trail reports: Alexa, Kahla, Dayna.
Have you been out on the PCT in Oregon and have trail info to share? Send us an email with your update and a photo and we’ll get your news in the next report. Your fellow hikers will thank you!
The information on this page is collected from a variety of sources, including NOAA, ODOT, SNOTEL, PCTA, PCT Water and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information on PCT Conditions in Oregon CLICK HERE. This page will be updated on a weekly basis during the summer hiking season.
Main photo: Smoke plume from the Whitewater Fire near Mt. Jefferson. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.