Sun, Snow, Bugs and Blowdown
This week kicks off the start of our weekly trail conditions updates! We’ve been out scouting portions of the PCT and getting reports from across the state, and while things are definitely improving, there are still some challenges out there. Snow, debris and blowdown in mid- and high-elevation forests is still impairing navigation and keeping local SAR teams busy fetching lost hikers. Snow is also still present in most high-elevation areas around Oregon’s big peaks and passes. And the bugs. The mossies are currently out en masse, so cover up and use a good repellent, or you may be making a large blood donation.
Continue to expect a variety of challenging conditions—deep snow, excessive blowdown, high creeks—and use caution. (See Trail Conditions for more info.) If you’re not familiar with winter travel and backcountry navigation, consider alternate routes or other hiking destinations until more favorable conditions return. If you’re planning on venturing out, be familiar with winter hiking and navigation skills, and check out our recommendations for traction devices and rain shells.
SOUTHERN OREGON (Secs. 1/2, R/B) – The Siskiyou Mountains are melting out nicely, with just patchy snow between Donomore Pass and Jackson Gap. The trail between Mt. Ashland and Fish Lake is clear and streams are running good. The Sky Lakes Wilderness continues to present lots of challenges, with heavy snow (about 12 miles north of Fish Lake) and lots of blowdown; snow conditions around Devils Peak are reported to be very treacherous. The way into Crater Lake Nat’l Park is still mostly snow-covered; most of the park’s trails are also still snow-covered.
CENTRAL OREGON (Secs. 3/4, C/D/E) – Reports thru this area have been thin, as most hikers aren’t yet venturing into these sections. The Mt. Thielsen, Diamond Peak and Three Sisters wilderness areas received some of the heaviest snow this past winter, so still hold lots of it in shady forests and upper elevations; expect plenty of debris and blowdown. The first few miles from Willamette Pass to the Rosary Lakes is clear—but tons of bugs! The trail between McKenzie Pass and Santiam Pass is mostly clear, with the exception of the forested sections around Mt. Washington.
- ASSIST: Diamond Lake Resort (just north of Crater Lake Nat’l Park) is offering PCT hikers free shuttle service between the North Crater TH and the resort, and between the resort and Windigo Pass. At Windigo Pass, hikers can detour onto the Oregon Skyline Trail to bypass the snow-covered Diamond Peak area. North Crater pickups are at 10am and 2pm; Windigo Pass service is available upon request. Call 541-793-3333, ext. 1, to request service.
NORTHERN OREGON (Secs. 5/6, E/F/G) – North from Santiam Pass, the snowline resumes near Three-Fingered Jack and continues thru the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness to Olallie Lake. The trail thru the Warm Springs Reservation area is mostly clear thru Timothy Lake and up to Barlow Pass. The snowline returns between the pass and Timberline Lodge. The trail around Mt. Hood is melting out in exposed areas, but remains under snow in forested sections; water levels on the Zigzag and Sandy rivers are high and hazardous. Expect patchy snow and blowdown between Lolo Pass and the Benson Plateau. There are several miles of clear trail out of Cascade Locks, and the Eagle Creek alternate is clear below Twister Falls.
UPDATE 7/5: The Eagle Creek alternate trail from Wahtum Lake is closed due to a wildfire.
The weather across Oregon’s Crest looks to be mostly sunny and mild this week. Statewide, daytime temps will be comfortable in the low 70s thru most areas; a little cooler in the Diamond Peak and Mt. Hood regions. Overnight temps will run mostly in the low- to mid-50s. By the weekend, temps will cool off a few degrees, dropping most areas into the upper 60s, but remain mostly sunny. The Gorge will be hot this week, with temps in the mid-80s to 90. Click on the links below for local forecasts.
Elk Lake Resort
There is still plenty of snow in the upper reaches of Oregon’s big peaks. Rapidly warming temps can lubricate snowfields and send them sliding down hillsides. If you’re planning to hike near snowy peaks or high passes, check for avalanche warnings before heading out.
Northwest Avalanche Center
Central Oregon Avalanche Association
All highways and secondary roads accessing the PCT’s primary trailheads are open and clear. Some remote and/or high-elevation forest roads accessing connector trails may have lingering snow and/or debris.
• Crater Lake National Park – All park roads are open, with the exception of East Rim Drive, between the Steel Visitor Center and Skell Head (southeast section), which remains closed due to snow. All park 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 PCT hikers Eric, Laura and Erin for their trail reports.
PCT: Oregon is looking for Oregon PCT hikers to help contribute trail conditions information to this site for the summer 2017 hiking season. If you’re interested in helping out your fellow PCT hikers by sharing news, photos and info on trail conditions in your area, please contact site admin here. 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: Lower Rosary Lake, north of Willamette Pass. Photo by Eli Boschetto.