Summer Ends With Snow

After a couple weeks off, we’re back with the latest updates on PCT hiking conditions in Oregon. While we were gone, we saw record hot, dry temps and raging fire conditions plummet to cap off summer with a freak snowfall across most of Oregon’s Crest. Locations from Crater Lake to Mt. Hood recorded more than a foot of cold, white stuff! The week also dropped several inches of heavy rain in many regions. It truly marked a dramatic end to a bizarre and frustrating hiking season.

While the snow and rain certainly helped with Oregon’s fire situation, work continues to put down most of the state’s larger blazes. A few areas have managed reopen some trails and sections of the PCT, but the larger closures remain in effect. But with much less-smokey skies and a good forecast for the week, there’s still opportunity to get out and hike some trail before we hang up our boots and start dusting off our skis and snowshoes.

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

Open Trail

Siskiyou Pass to Crater Lake Boundary
(Secs. 1, 2/B; OR miles 28–123; PCT miles 1,717–1,812)  Most of the Rogue–Siskiyou and portions of the Sky Lakes regions are open and hikeable, however you may encounter lingering snow at higher elevations. Bag Soda Mtn for good views, kick back at Hyatt Lake, walk the red cinder trail around Brown Mtn, or visit some of the forested lakes in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Check forest sites for current conditions.

• The PCT remains closed thru most of Crater Lake Nat’l Park.

Cascade Crest to Elk Lake
(Sec. 3, 4/D; OR miles 156–261; PCT miles 1,845–1,950)  The southern portion of the Three Sisters Wilderness closure has been reduced and the PCT is once again open between Willamette Pass and Elk Lake. Enjoy spectacular mountain scenery and picturesque lakes in the Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak wilderness areas, or visit some of the Cascade Lakes.

• The PCT remains closed from Elk Lake thru McKenzie Pass, and from Minto Pass thru Breitenbush Lake.

Timothy Lake to Lolo Pass
(Sec. 5/F, G; OR miles 382–423; PCT miles 2,071–2,112)  Enjoy secluded camping around Timothy Lake and big views over Salmon Creek Meadows as you climb toward Mt. Hood. Detour to the Twin Lakes or bag Barlow Butte for even more views. Watch for vibrant fall color thru the mid-evevations and be prepared for snow up near Timberline.

• The PCT remains closed from Lolo Pass thru Cascade Locks.

Weather Forecast

We’re in for sun and mild fall temps this week. In southern and central regions, daytime temps will be in the low to mid-60s, peaking around 70 by midweek, then tapering off to lower 50s and 60s by the weekend; overnights will be cool thru the week, in the mid-40s to low 50s. Northern regions will see slightly cooler temps with daytime highs in the mid-50s, increasing to the low 60s by midweek, then slipping to the mid-50s into the weekend; overnights will be cool in the upper 40s. Weather conditions will be mostly sunny thru all regions for the week, with a slight chance of showers near the weekend.

Click on the links below for detailed forecasts.

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Mt. Ashland
Fish Lake
Crater Lake
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Willamette Pass
Elk Lake Resort
Santiam Pass
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Frog Lake
Timberline Lodge
Cascade Locks
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eagle creek fire
Even following last week’s snow and rain, many fires in Oregon continue to smolder. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.


The following wildfires are currently impacting the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon. Fires are listed south to north. Click on the links below for detailed info and closure areas. You can also visit the InciWeb for the latest info on fire conditions and information.

These multiple fires have burned a combined area of 80,000 acres. Most west-side trails in the national park remain closed, however the West Rim Trail has been reopened. Southern portions of the Sky Lakes Wilderness have been reopened. Check the park website and info pages below for more info.

The PCT is closed from Crater Lake southern boundary to North Entrance Road (OR miles 123–148; PCT miles 1,812–1,837)

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HORSE CREEK COMPLEX, MILLI FIRE – Three Sisters Wilderness
Forest crews continue mopping up the 33,000 acres still smoldering in the Three Sisters area.

The PCT is closed from Elk Lake to McKenzie Pass (OR miles 261–292; PCT miles 1,950–1,981)

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WHITEWATER FIRE – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness
At 14,000 acres, most of this wilderness area remains closed.

The PCT is closed from Minto Pass to Breitenbush Lake (OR miles 320–348; PCT miles 2,009–2,037)

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EAGLE CREEK FIRE – Columbia River Gorge
Having burned nearly 50,000 acres, all trails in the Columbia Gorge are closed indefinitely.

The PCT is closed from Lolo Pass to Cascade Locks (OR miles 423–455; PCT miles 2,112–2,144)

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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.

As the season wears on, water sources become fewer and farther between. Know where you can tank up to stay hydrated and get you down the miles.

Water Update

Most water sources in open locations are still pretty reliable. Below are a few sources to take note of and plan accordingly.

Brown Mtn Shelter (OR mile 72; PCT mile 1761) — Pump handle has not been replaced; do not count on water here.

Six Horse Spring (OR mile 181; PCT mile 1,870) — Water is best from lower pools.

Lemiti Creek (OR mile 363; PCT mile 2052) — Not reliable; use Trooper Spring 1 mile north.

You can get the full water conditions update at the PCT Water Report.

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.

Crater Lake National Park – West Rim Road is closed midweek for construction. All other park roads and facilities are open.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (OR-46) – Road is open, however some trailheads remain closed.

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.

Caring for Trails

Our friends at Granite Gear continue doing great things to advocate for and promote clean trails. Check out this short story about one of this year’s Pacific Crest Trail Grounds Keeper hikers.


END-OF-SEASON REMINDER: Next week, we will be posting our final full weekly conditions report. Please visit our Facebook page for news and info on trail and weather alerts. Our weekly updates will resume with the 2018 hiking season.

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: The PCT approaching Mt. Thielsen. Photo by Eli Boschetto.

2 thoughts on “Trail Report: September 25”

  1. Hi, Eli! Thank you for providing all of the crucial pieces of information. I hope this will help hiking season to last a little longer. I was wondering, is there a lot of hikers on trails who are not distracted by weather conditions?

    1. Hi Nigel! Weather is an important factor when hiking on the PCT. At high elevations, rain and snow can range from annoying to life-threatening. Extreme heat and sun can also affect your experience. Many thru-hikers have to suck it up and slog thru whatever weather is thrown at them. Section-hikers can be more selective about hiking during good weather for optimal experiences. It should be of extreme importance to monitor weather situations and know when to change plans or bail off the trail if weather conditions go south so as not to put yourself or others at risk.

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