Oregon Cascades

South Sister Summit

Length: 5.5 one_way miles
Low Point: 5500'
High Point: 10358'
Season: Summer/Fall
Scenery: 5/5

Difficulty: 5/5

Submitted by: Joe Swank


The trailhead is Devil's Lake, off of Cascade Lakes Highway. It is not far past Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort coming from Bend on hwy 372.

Trail Description

This Hikes is one of my favorites in all of Oregon! It is the rare opportunity to scale one of the Cascade Volcano's without a technical climb. The hike is a steep climb the whole way so be sure to have a good quantity of water and energy to trudge up almost 5000 ft in under 6 miles!
It starts out climbing through an alpine forest, quickly arriving at treeline after a mile or two. This is where the picturesque Moraine lake sits, and makes a good camp location for an overnight, or just a good stop if you are doing it all in one day. I have done it both way, but I have to say that I prefer the overnight simply because it takes a bit of the climb out the picture on the first day.
Once above Moraine lake you get view across central Oregon that only get better as you continue your climb to the summit.
Above treeline the hike is simply a steady climb with a scattered array of vegetation and wildflowers depending on the season, and the occational snow drift.
Once you reach Lewis Glacier the official trail ends and the steep scramble to the top begins. It is a rather well defined path through loose shale that takes you the remaining few hundred feet to teh summit, which tops out at 10,358 ft (3rd tallest in Oregon).
The views of the cascades, especially the other two sisters are incredible from the summit, but it is always cold and windy so definitely bring a jacket.
On a warm summer weekend this trail can be fairly crowded, but it is a big mountain so you will definitely have some space.
I read somewhere that an overnight permit is required to stay overnight in the 3 sisters wilderness, but I honestly cannot ever remember aquireing one for any of the numerous overnights I have done in the wilderness area...but you may want to check into it if you plan on spending the night.
In general the trail is very well marked as well as the signage for the trailhead.


The permit required can be filled out at the Trailhead.
2004-08-09 14:38:27