Current Conditions

Trail Report: September 4

By on September 4, 2017

When the Red Sun Rises


9/5 UPDATE: The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge exploded overnight and has grown to more than 4,800 acres. The fire has spread west to the Multnomah Falls, Larch Mtn and Crown Point areas. It has also jumped the Columbia River and ignited fires on the Washington side. Fire officials suspect this blaze was sparked by use of fireworks.

Evacuation orders are in effect for Cascade Locks, both I-84 (between Troutdale and Hood River) and the Historic Columbia River Hwy have been closed, and Bridge of the Gods is closed. Hikers should steer clear of the entire area. NOBO section- and thru-hikers should exit the trail at Timberline Lodge (or Lolo Pass and walk the road back to Zigzag). More info and trail closures below.


 This year has been positively disastrous for section- and thru-hiking the PCT in Oregon. First, we were hampered by record snow levels and excessive blowdown. Just as things started looking up, the wildfires set in. There are now 24 wildfires and complex fires burning in Oregon’s forests and wilderness areas, covering a combined area of more than 430,000 acres. Many of these have been burning since July, and have resulted in the closure of hiking trails in and around Crater Lake Nat’l Park, portions of the Rogue–Siskiyou and Mt. Hood Nat’l Forests, and most of the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson wilderness areas in the Willamette and Deschutes Nat’l Forests.

The fires have also rendered more than 150 miles of the PCT in Oregon closed or inaccessible—that’s more than 30% of the PCT’s total distance across the state! This has been frustrating for both thru- and section hikers, and the logistics of getting around these closures has been getting increasingly difficult as closure areas expand and new ones are added. And unless Oregon gets a good showering soon, we can expect most of these fires—and closures—continue thru the end of the season. It’s time for all of us to pray for rain.

So the question is, what’s hikeable in Oregon? Here are three stretches of the PCT in Oregon that are still open for hiking:

  • Siskiyou Pass to Fish Lake (54 miles) – Start at the PCT trailhead at I-5 and hike north thru the Rogue–Siskiyou Nat’l Monument and Soda Mtn Wilderness. Check out the lava beds and red cinder trail around Brown Mtn. Finish at Hwy 140.
  • Cascade Crest to Willamette Pass (60 miles) – Start at the North Crater trailhead at Hwy 138 and hike north thru the Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak wilderness areas. Enjoy spectacular mountain scenery and picturesque lakes. Finish at Hwy 58.
  • Timothy Lake to Lolo Pass (40 miles) – Start at the trailhead near Timothy Lake at FR-42 and hike north to Timberline Lodge, then around the west side of Mt. Hood. Take in big mountain views and tons of sweet, juicy berries. Finish at Lolo Pass Road.
hood sunset

Sunset view of Mt. Hood from the PCT above Salmon Creek Meadows. Photo by Alexa “Rise” McRoberts.


Weather Forecast

The forecast for this week is looking like a mixed bag. Southern portions of the state will see daytime temps ranging around the mid- to high 70s early in the week, then dropping into the mid- to low 60s later in the week; they’ll rebound a bit going into the weekend. Overnight temps will start cool in the low 60s, then dip into the chilly low 40s later in the week. Northern portions of the state will see slightly higher temps.

Weather conditions will start as partly sunny across most of the state, however there will be haze and unhealthy smokey conditions in most areas. All regions may see chances of thunderstorms scattered thru the week, with chances of rain—PLEASE!—heading toward the weekend. Skies should clear for a fairly mild and comfortable weekend. Click on the links below for detailed forecasts.


Wildfires

EAGLE CREEK FIRE: Columbia River Gorge — Sparked just a couple days ago by careless campers, the new Eagle Creek Fire has blossomed to 3,200 acres. Evacuation orders have been issued for residents in and around Cascade Locks, and another portion of the PCT has been closed. This fire is separate from the still-burning Indian Creek Fire. The following trails/areas are closed:

  • PCT from Wahtum Lake to Cascade Locks (OR miles 439–455; PCT miles 2,128–2,144)
  • Trails: Eagle Creek (#440), Herman Creek (#406), Eagle Benson (#434), Buck Point (#439), Lower Punchbowl (#440B), Ruckel Creek (#405), Shady Glen (#402A), Wauna Viewpoint (#402), Deadwood (#422), Gorton Creek (#408), Ridge Cutoff (#437) and Tanner Butte (#401).
  • Trailheads/Camps: Indian Springs CG, Wahtum Lake CG, Eagle Creek TH and CG

DETOUR: There are no easy ways around this closure. PCTA is recommending that NOBO thru-hikers exit the trail at Lolo Pass and walk the road 11 miles to the town of Zigzag; there, you will need to find transport north. SOBO hikers should find transport from Cascade Locks to Lolo Pass or Timberline Lodge. Section-hikers can still hike the west side portion of Mt. Hood, including the Timberline Trail.

More info here.

eagle creek fire

Another portion of the Pacific Crest Trail has been closed due to wildfire, this time from the new Eagle Creek Fire near Cascade Locks. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.


HORSE CREEK COMPLEX & MILLI FIRES: Three Sisters Wilderness These two fires —covering a combined area of more than 33,000 acres, on both the Willamette and Deschutes Nat’l Forests—have effectively closed off the entire Three Sisters Wilderness, and a portion of the Mt. Washington Wilderness. The closure area now extends from Irish Lake to McKenzie Pass—however McKenzie Pass is not accessible due to the Hwy 242 closure.  The following trails/areas are closed:

  • PCT from Irish Lake to McKenzie Pass (OR miles 239–291; PCT miles 1,928–1,980)
  • Willamette 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), Fingerboard Prairie, 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), Patjens Lake Loop, Porky Lake (#4338), Proxy Falls (#3532), Quaking Aspen (#3332), Rainbow Falls (#3543), Rebel Creek (#3323), Rebel Rock (#3324), Red Hill (#3515), Robinson Lake, 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).
  • Deschutes Trails: Black Crater Trail (#4058), Millican Crater Trail (#4066), Scott Pass Trail (#4068), North Matthieu Lake Trail (#4062), Green Lakes Trail (#17; Park Meadow to Lava Camp Lake), Trout Creek Tie Trail (#4067), Chush Falls Trail (#4080), Pole Creek Trail (#4072), Metolius–Windigo Trail (#99; Graham Corral Horse Camp to Park Meadow Trail), Whychus Overlook Trail, Whychus Creek Trail and Park Meadow Trail (#4075).
  • Trailheads/Camps: Scott Lake CG, Alder Springs CG, Dee Wright Observatory, Millian Crater TH, Scott Pass TH, Pole Creek TH, Park Meadow TH and Whispering Pines CG, Sisters Cow Camp and Lava Camp Lake CG.

DETOUR: Combined with the Whitewater Fire, there is no easy way around this nearly 100-mile closure; hikers should avoid the area entirely. NOBO thru-hikers should exit the trail at Willamette Pass and find transport north; SOBO hikers should exit at Timberline Lodge or Timothy Lake and find transport south.

Horse Creek Complex info here. See closure map.

Milli Fire Info here. See closure map.

milli fire

Firefighters try to get a handle on the 22,000-acre Milli Fire, burning on the Deschutes Nat’l Forest near the town of Sisters. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.


WHITEWATER FIRE: Mt. Jefferson Wilderness — Four separate fires—encompassing more than 12,000 acres—are currently burning on the west side of Mt. Jefferson. The closure area has expanded to include a portion of FR-4220, which cuts off Breitenbush/Olallie lakes from the Santiam Pass area (see roads). PCT hikers should avoid this section of trail. 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, Short Mtn, Bald Butte, Breitenbush CG, Cleator Bend CG and Fox Creek CG and Elk Lake CG

DETOUR: Combined with the Milli and Horse Creek fires, there is no easy way around this nearly 100-mile closure; hikers should avoid the area entirely. NOBO thru-hikers should exit the trail at Willamette Pass and find transport north; SOBO hikers should exit at Timberline Lodge or Timothy Lake and find transport south.

More info here. See closure map.


HIGH CASCADES COMPLEX: Crater Lake  — This cluster of wildfires on the west side of Crater Lake National Park has grown to 28,000 acres; it is 33% contained. The park has closed the north entrance and West Rim Drive; Mazama Village is open, however a Level 1 evacuation notice has been issued.  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, West Rim, Discovery Point, Lightning Springs, The Watchman, Boundary Springs, Bald Crater Loop, Bert Creek
  • Trailheads/Camps: Lightning Spring CG, Red Cone Spring CG

DETOUR: With the southern park boundary closed, and both the PCT and Rim Trail closed, hikers should avoid the park or find transport around. NOBO thru-hikers should 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 and find a ride. SOBO hikers should exit the trail at Hwy 138 and find transportation to Fort Klamath or Fish Lake.

More info here. See closure map.

high cascades

The combined wildfires of the High Cascades Complex have once again closed off all trails on the west side of Crater Lake Nat’l Park—including both the PCT and Rim Trail. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.


INDIAN CREEK FIRE – Columbia Gorge — The warm temps and dry conditions have continued to fuel this fire, now at nearly 1,100 acres. Combined with the new Eagle Creek Fire, the closure area now encompasses all trails in and around Eagle Creek, including the PCT. The following trails/areas are closed

  • PCT from Wahtum Lake to Cascade Locks (OR miles 439–455; PCT miles 2,128–2,144)
  • Trails: Eagle Creek (#440), Herman Creek (#406), Eagle Benson (#434), Buck Point (#439), Lower Punchbowl (#440B), Ruckel Creek (#405), Shady Glen (#402A), Wauna Viewpoint (#402), Deadwood (#422), Gorton Creek (#408), Ridge Cutoff (#437) and Tanner Butte (#401).
  • Trailheads/Camps: Indian Springs CG, Wahtum Lake CG, Eagle Creek TH and CG

DETOUR: Hikers should avoid the Eagle Creek area entirely. See Eagle Creek detour for more info.

More info here. See closure map.


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.


Water Update

Nearing the end of summer, many of the smaller springs and water sources along the trail are starting to diminish, but the larger creeks and lakes are still pretty reliable. 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) — Pump handle has not been replaced; do not count on water here.

Honeymoon Creek (OR mile 110; PCT mile 1800) — Nearly dry.

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.


Road Conditions

The following roads access primary or secondary PCT trailheads. Most secondary and Forest Roads (FR) are not open and/or maintained during the winter season. Listed south to north.

Beaver Creek Road (FR-20) – Closed for 1 mile east of junction with Upper Applegate Road due to Miller Complex Fire. The Donomore Pass trailhead can be accessed via Mt. Ashland Ski Road/FR-20 from I-5; high-clearance vehicle recommended.

Crater Lake National Park – The North Entrance and West Rim roads are closed. Park facilities are open, however Mazama Village is under a potential evacuation warning.

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.

FR-4220 – Road is closed between FR-46 and Breitenbush Lake; this is no longer a viable detour around the Whitewater Fire. Use I-97 and I-26 to access points south and north.

I-84 – Closed between Troutdale and Hood River due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

Check Oregon’s road conditions at ODOT.


Trail Food Giveaway!

It’s your last chance to enter! We’ve got a trail food resupply package for one lucky hiker. Check out the contest page and get your entries in today!

You can win a trail food resupply package with snacks and meals from Packit Gourmet, Alpine Aire, Backpacker’s Bistro, Good To-Go and more!



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: Sunset from Indian Mountain, enhanced by smoke from the Indian Creek Fire. Photo by Jeramy Dietz, courtesy of InciWeb.

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