Trail Report: August 21
Happy Solar Eclipse Day!
Did you find a great place to watch the solar eclipse today? If you’ve got photos, we’d love to see them. Tag them on Facebook or Instagram with #pctoregon and we’ll find them, or send us an email. Next week, we’ll share a bunch in the weekly update.
Now that we’ve reached the middle of summer, trail conditions are generally what you would expect. Most of the snow is gone, water sources are still mostly full and flowing well, and the mossies have moved on for the season. There are still a few blowdown concerns thru some areas in the Sky Lakes and on Mt. Hood, but the hiking has gotten pretty easygoing thru Oregon. Wildflowers are going gangbusters in the mid and upper elevations, and berries are ripening up nicely. Despite the many trail closures, there is still nearly 350 miles of PCT to hike in Oregon. So put on your sunscreen and enjoy Oregon at its finest!
This week, weather conditions will start mild and comfortable, dip into the cooler realm later in the week, then bounce back up for a warm weekend. Look for daytime temps across the Crest to start the week in the low 70s thru most areas; a bit cooler around Diamond Peak and Mt. Hood, warmer around McKenzie Pass and Cascade Locks. Things really cool off later in the week, dropping as low as the mid 50s in some areas, then rebound to the mid and upper 70s into next weekend. Overnight temps will range between the low 40s to upper 50s thru most regions.
Conditions for the week will be mostly sunny; a few more clouds midweek, then clearing into the weekend. There is a Red Flag Warning for potential thunderstorms in the southern regions thru midweek. Almost all regions thru the state may experience hazy or smoky conditions due to the wildfires. Click on the links below for detailed forecasts.
MILLI FIRE: Three Sisters Wilderness — Only burning for a little over a week now, this fast-spreading wildfire is now the largest along the PCT at nearly 10,500 acres. It’s burning east of the trail, between North Sister and McKenzie Pass. The following trails/areas are closed:
- PCT from Elk Lake to McKenzie Pass (OR miles 261–291; PCT miles 1,950–1,980)
- Trails: Black Crater Trail (#4058), Millican Crater Trail (#4066), Scott Pass Trail (#4068), North Matthieu Lake Trail (#4062), Trout Creek Tie Trail (#4067), Chush Falls Trail (#4080), Pole Creek Trail (#4072), Metolius–Windigo Trail (#99) from Hwy 242 to FR 4601, Whychus Overlook Trail, Whychus Creek Trail, Demaris Lake Trail (#4074.1), Camp Lake Trail (#4074), Park Meadow Trail (#4075) and Peterson Ridge trails.
- Trailheads/Camps: Millian Crater TH, Scott Pass TH, Pole Creek TH, Park Meadow TH and Tam McArthur Rim TH, Whispering Pines CG, Trout Creek Swamp, Sisters Cow Camp and Three Creek Lake CG and trails.
DETOUR: This fire and closure, combined with the Three Sisters Fire (below), has made both the west and east sides of the Sisters inaccessible. PCT hikers should avoid the area completely. With the additional closure for the Whitewater Fire near Mt. Jefferson (below), NOBO thru-hikers should exit the trail at Elk Lake and find transport to Olallie Lake or Government Camp; SOBO hikers should exit at Olallie Lake and find transport to Elk Lake.
THREE SISTERS FIRES: Three Sisters Wilderness — Several smaller, lightning-sparked fires continue to burn along the western flanks of the Three Sisters. The Forest Service has closed the PCT between Elk Lake and McKenzie Pass. The following trails/areas are closed:
- PCT from Elk Lake to McKenzie Pass (OR miles 261–291; PCT miles 1,950–1,980)
- Trails: Bear Flat (#3301), Benson Trail (#3502), Blair Lake (#3553), Breezy Point (#3517), Buck Meadows (#3521), Crossing Way (#3307), Deer Butte Trail (#3508), East Fork (#3308), Eileen Lake (#4348), Elk Creek (#3510), Erma Bells (#3563), Foley Ridge (#3511), French Pete (#3311), Glacier Way (#4336), Goose Lake (#3542), Hand Lake Cutoff (#4344), Hand Lake (#3513), Helen Lake (#3577), Horse Creek (#3514), Horse Lake (#3516), Indian Holes (#3524), Irish Mountain (#3588), Jack Pine Way (#3587), James Creek (#3546), Judy Lake (#3575), Lake Side (#3525), Leconte Crater (#12.3), Linton Lake (#3519), Linton Meadows (#3547), Louise Creek (#3520), Lowder Mountain (#3329), Martin Way (#3525.1), Mcbee (#3523), Mink Lake (#3526), Mud Lake (#3518), Nash Lake (#3527), Obsidian (#3528), Olallie (#3529), Olallie Mountain (#4100), Park (#3530), Porky Lake (#4338), Proxy Falls (#3532), Quaking Aspen (#3332), Rainbow Falls (#3543), Rebel Creek (#3323), Rebel Rock (#3324), Red Hill (#3515), Scott (#3531), Scott Mountain (#4339), Scott-Obsidian Tie (#3531.1), Scotty Way (#4345), Separation Lake (#3536), Separation Meadow (#4331), South Fork (#3327), Starwano (#3537), Substitute Point (#4343), Sunset Lake (#3515.1), Tenas Lake (#4340), Walker Creek (#3330), Water Holes (#3538), Wildcat (#3331) and Williams Lake (#3589).
- Trailheads/Camps: Scott Lake CG, Alder Springs CG, Dee Wright Observatory
DETOUR: This fire and closure, combined with the Milli Fire (above), has made both the west and east sides of the Sisters area inaccessible. PCT hikers should avoid the area completely. With the additional closure for the Whitewater Fire near Mt. Jefferson (below), NOBO thru-hikers should exit the trail at Elk Lake and find transport to Olallie Lake or Government Camp; SOBO hikers should exit at Olallie Lake and find transport to Elk Lake.
WHITEWATER FIRE: Mt. Jefferson Wilderness — Burning on the west side of Mt. Jefferson, this fire has scorched more than 8,500 acres and has kept the PCT closed thru the area for a month now. The following trails/areas are closed:
- PCT from Minto Pass to Breitenbush Lake (OR mile 320–348; PCT mile 2,009–2,037)
- Trails: Bear Point (#3342), Bingham Ridge (#3421), Brush Creek (#4004, Deschutes NF), Cabot Lake (#4003, Deschutes NF), Cheat Creek (#3441), Crag Trail (#3364), Crown Lake (#3362), Grizzly Peak (#3428), Hunts Cove (#3430), Hunts Creek (#3440), Independence Rock (#3431), Independence Rock Summit (#3431.1), Jefferson Lake (#4001, Deschutes NF), Lake Of The Woods (#3493), Leone Lake (#3367), McCoy (#4168), Minto Mountain (#3448), Minto Pass Tie (#3437), Old Hunts Cove (#3451), Pamelia Lake (#3439), Roaring Creek (#3361), Rockpile Lake (#3632), Shirley Lake (#3451), South Breitenbush (#3375), South Breitenbush Gorge (#3366), Sugar Pine Ridge (#4002), Swallow Lake (#3488), Triangulation (#3373), Triangulation Peak (#3374), Whitewater (#3429) and Woodpecker Ridge (#3442).
- Trailheads/Camps: Jefferson Park, Pamelia Lake CG, Cheat Creek, Triangulation Peak, Leone Lake, South Breitenbush, Crown Lake, Bear Valley, Rockpile Lake, Cabot Lake, Jefferson Lake, Brush Creek
DETOUR: There is no easy way around this closure and, combined with the Three Sisters fires, all hikers should avoid the area. NOBO thru-hikers should exit at Elk Lake and find transport north to Olallie Lake or Government Camp; SOBO hikers should exit at Olallie Lake and find transport to Elk Lake.
HIGH CASCADES COMPLEX: Crater Lake — Now at more than 11,000 acres, this cluster of wildfires on the west side of Crater Lake National Park has been burning for a couple weeks. It is nearly 70% contained, but a couple new fires have sprouted 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
- Trailheads/Camps: Lightning Spring CG, Red Cone Spring CG
DETOUR: With the southern park boundary closed, NOBO thru-hikers can’t directly access Mazama Village. 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. SOBO hikers should exit the trail at Hwy 138 and find transportation to Fort Klamath or Fish Lake.
INDIAN CREEK FIRE – Columbia Gorge — This small fire continues to smolder in the steep terrain at the head of Eagle Creek. It is mostly contained to just 84 acres. The PCT remains open, and water can be obtained at Indian Springs. 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
- Trailheads/Camps: Indian Springs CG and Wahtum Lake CG
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.
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.
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 closed between Hwy 126 and Sisters; McKenzie Pass is not accessible.
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: If there is any positive side to the wildfires burning in Oregon, they’re helping create some spectacular sunrises and sunsets—like this one seen from Mac Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Photo by Alexa McRoberts.