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An Overnight Journey to Oregon's Green Lakes

We enjoyed a super mellow hike close to Bend Oregon with the most rewarding views!

By: Garrett Schmidt + Save to a List

Friday after work we loaded up the vanagon and headed to Bend from The Dalles, Oregon. 

It's about a two and half hour drive for us. We believe that every trip needs to start with a good brew, so we stopped in Bend first and had some great beer at Sunriver Brewing. From there we headed to the Deschutes National Forest. When heading from Bend you will get on Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway and head east for about 40 miles and the trail head parking lot will be on your right. This trail does get busy in the summer months so be prepared. There is an overflow lot across the highway as well. 

We car camped in the parking lot Friday night so we could get an early start. 

There are only 22 camping spots available, so it's best to get there as early as you can. Also, who doesn't want to hike in on sunrise? Views for days. The hike is about 4.5 miles one way to the Green Lakes area. The first 2.5-3 miles are flat with hardly any elevation gain but the last little bit does climb some, but not enough to write home about. Again, its a popular day hike for most.

We arrived around 7:30am to our destination. 

We struggled to find a site, and finally did, but it was hidden in the forest away from the lake. We decided to wait it out and see if anyone was on their way to another camp site for the night. Another thing to note, and what makes this place amazing, is that you have trails all around the campsites. You can go to Broken Top, South Sister, and more...just do some research around the area. There are so many connecting trails. 

As we sat down to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and have some breakfast, the waiting game worked out

Camp site number one was dropping tents and we ran over and asked if they were leaving and we ended up having the best site in the area! We took some pictures for the folks leaving the area and pitched our tent. Try to get this site when you go. It's up on a huge hill overlooking the major lake and makes you feel like you are on a secluded island. The mosquitos are horrible in the wooded areas so try to get in the bare sites. Don't take that to mean the mosquitos didn't bother us. They were horrible, so bring spray. I recommend anything from Sawyer for protection.

After we set up our tent and hammocks we went off to hike around Broken Top which is about 4 miles RT from the Green Lakes area. 

We even got treated by the monarch butterfly migration passing through. Alexa really enjoyed it. At the end of the day of exploring we laid back in the hammocks and relaxed, cooked a nice dinner, and prepared for the sunset. Right now the sun is setting behind the South Sister, so I would recommend finding a good view of Broken Top to watch the light fade up to the peak and disappear. 

Right after sunset run for the tent though, the mosquitos are hungry too!

I woke up at 5am the next morning to capture and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen. South Sister exploded with color and the lakes were calm like glass. If you are lucky like I was you'll be treated with an empty area all to yourself. I guess no one wanted to see what I feel is the best part of camping in an area: sunrise. 

After the sunrise we had some food and headed on our way.

Side note: camp in the designated area only. This is a highly visited area. Don't be selfish and ruin it for everyone. KEEP IT WILD

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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