Backpacking to Russell Lake

12 Miles Round Trip - 1800 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Whitewater Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Erik Sanders

Russel Lake offers untouched wilderness and unpopulated natural scenery. This is also a great spot for stellar astrophotography. 

This hike begins 7.5 miles down Whitewater Road at the Whitewater Trailhead, about 10 miles east of Detroit Lake. The road is bumpy, but can be navigated at slow speeds, even without four-wheel drive. Make sure to fill out a wilderness pass once you arrive at the trailhead.

The trail is very well maintained, with incredible views along the way. About 4½ miles in, the trail intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) – make sure to turn leftward, toward the mountain, otherwise you might end up in Mexico!

Once on the PCT, you will descend into Jefferson Park, which looks like something out of a fairytale. You will pass several lakes, including Russell Lake, which each have small campsites, so head out early in order to secure a camping spot. Enjoy clear, starry skies at night, and beautiful fog over the lake, in the morning.

There are many hikes to explore in this area. One great option is to head up the PCT through the park – you might meet some friendly PCT hikers, along the way.

To catch peak wildflower season, plan a trip in late July – for astrophotographers, as well, this is when you can catch the darkest skies in Oregon.

Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Details

12 Miles
1800 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

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Overall rating: 

Love it

Mt Jefferson area is my most favorite of any place in Oregon. It is very beautiful with lots of subalpine lakes. If you are conditioned and willing, hiking up onto the glaciers is insanely beautiful. Though there are very few trails up the mountain. I didn't use a trail and just adventured up the side. Not an easy task and getting down is sketchy and very very steep in spots. So be forewarned, it is risky. I recommend this hike to everyone, and is something all hikers should experience.