Hike Broken Top Mountain
Oregon › Broken Top Trailhead
Added by Whitney Whitehouse
The hike is uphill, but is short (~2-3 miles each way)The "trail" is not marked and very tough to followGet amazing lake and peak viewsDuration: A few hours
The hike takes you along a glacial lake and to unbeatable mountain views at the end. It’s a hidden gem! The trail isn’t marked and the best way to get there is know someone that’s been before. The lake is unbelievably beautiful with deep blue glacial water and the view of the mountains at the end of the hike is literally the best I have ever seen. From the viewpoint you can see the peak of Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt. Jefferson and probably Mt. Hood on a clear day. The entire hike up gives you spectacular views of Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Thielsen. This is a great place to view the Cascades!
To get there you go through the Todd Lake parking lot and on the dirt road (the gate opened in mid-July this year and I’m not sure when it closes but you can only drive in if the gate is open, otherwise you’ll have to hike an extra 7 miles or so). Take the dirt road (Road 370). You’ll need a truck or big SUV with good tires, the road is VERY rugged.
When you get to Road 378 (about 2.7 miles up the road) don’t turn, keep going another 0.8 miles until Road 380 and turn left for the “Broken Trop Trailhead”. This section of the road is the worst so be extra careful. The road will come to an end and that’s where you’ll park, there is a little building there now and I believe it’s a restroom.
The first fork in the path has two trails, the one veering to the right is unmaintained and isn’t the one you want anyway – take the one to the left. The second fork in the path has two trails as well, the one going to the left is labeled “Green Lakes” and the one on the right is unnamed – you’ll want to take the trail on the right this time.
You’ll follow the trail over a creek and past two small waterfalls along the creek, keep following the trail to the right of the main bowl in Broken Top.
You are going to go through a couple of snowfields and come to an area where one big snowfield seems to be covering the ground and you’re surrounded by cinder hills, look to the left towards broken top’s jagged crags and there should be an area where the rocks make a V shape and the snowfield fills it in. The lake is at the top of the V so cross the snowfield and hike up on the right side of the snowfield since that’s where the “trail” is.
After you’ve seen the lake I’d highly recommend walking the extra 0.7 miles to the mountain overlook. There is a trail that takes you there and a lot of is it covered in snow but there should be footprints you can follow. If you want an even better view continue up the ridge to the right and you will be truly amazed.
Also, we chose to hike the trail, but this would be an amazing backpacking location – we saw backpackers camped out near the lake.
- Hiking shoes
- A jacket
- Swimsuit if you’re daring enough to jump in the ice cold water!
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I hiked this yesterday with a good friend of mine. We had originally planned to summit south Sister, but I was convinced that this hike would be well worth it. The trail was easy to follow and offered great views of the surrounding wilderness. It was a little crowded but began to clear out as the afternoon wained. Left me thirsty to return and spend several days backpacking through the surrounding wilderness.
A few more details
Awesome write-up! This is one of my top hikes in Central Oregon, hands down. The various trailheads make it easy to lengthen or shorten this hike depending on a user's experience. Also, I'd like to add that when the trail is clear of snow, it's actually very easy to follow and not difficult at all to navigate. It might be clearer to title this adventure "Hike Broken Top Crater," since the summit climb of this mountain is a completely different endeavor - typically from the west side of the mountain instead (+ ropes required, not "hiker-only").
Well worth the effort
In my opinion, this is one of the best hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness - the summit crater is beautiful and on clear days the view from the surrounding ridgelines allows unbounded views of the entire Oregon Cascade crest. Another option for access is from the Tam MacArthur Rim trail at Three Creeks Lake Trailhead (which you can access from Sisters), although it's more like a 10-mile roundtrip hike in that case. There is a sign at the top of Tam MacArthur Rim (which also has tremendous views) indicating where the established trail ends, but the use-trail to the summit crater is much easier to follow than the route from Todd Lake.
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