Backpack to Bays Lake

Oregon Whitewater Trailhead

Added by Aaron White

Wake up at Bays Lake and wander the majestic land of Mt. Jefferson.

Starting at the Whitewater Trailhead, the path begins in a gorgeous old growth Douglas Fir forest. The first 1.5 miles are switchbacks gaining most your elevation and probably the toughest section of the hike. As it starts to level you'll find yourself following a ridge with some spectacular views of Mt. Jefferson and hills below. The only important turn is at the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) junction. Make sure you turn left! After entering Jefferson Park, continue a few more miles until you see the first small path on your left marked "Bays Lake". There are only eight campsites at Bays Lake leaving plenty of room and privacy. All sites within Jefferson park have to be reserved at This is a very popular spot during summer so make sure you reserve!

Jefferson Park is easily one of the most beautiful, pristine pieces of nature I've ever seen. I'd recommend exploring the neighboring lakes and trails. If it's hot enough, take a polar plunge in the clear glacial water!

Things to be aware of:
1. Mosquitoes! Jefferson Park is full, and I mean FULL of mosquitoes. Bring a lot of bug spray or a net if you have one. 
2. No campfires.
3. You're in bear country so play it safe with a bear bag.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Backpacking Essentials 
  • Warm Clothes and swim suit
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camera
  • Bug Repellent
  • Bear Bag
  • Whiskey

Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



12 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1800 Feet



Swimming Hole

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Amazing Views

The hike is was totally spectacular with some of its views. I will say after all the switch backs there will be a right or left turn that OP didn't mention. We met some people that hiked about 30 minutes the wrong way on the turn. So make sure you turn RIGHT (towards the mountain). Also I want to clarify that the left fork on the PCT, you will be hiking on the PCT until you reach the camp grounds and the lake. You will see a little wooden plaque that reads pacific crest trail. Other than that, simply amazing. We got a campsite that was almost right on the water, and just past the lake, Mt. Jefferson. Will be returning.

about 1 month ago

Added by Aaron White

Find me on the road less traveled

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Tumalo Creek Loop

Oregon / Tumalo Falls

This Loop begins at the Tumalo Falls View Point; however, the trail continues for another 3 miles.

Sara Welge
7 Saves

Hike Mt. Bachelor Sunrise to Summit

Oregon / Sunrise Lodge Trailhead

The Sunrise to Summit Trail on Mt. Bachelor is the easiest and most straightforward way for peakbaggers to reach the summit of one of Central Oregon’s classic volcano climbs.

Rachel Davidson
15 Saves

Hike the Olallie Lake North Basin Loop

Oregon / Lower Lake Trailhead

Begin at the Lower Lake Campground and take the Lower Lake trailhead. The best direction to hike is counter clockwise, however you can do either.

Isaac Desautels
5 Saves