Hike Mt. Jefferson's Park Ridge

7.4 miles 1500 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Zak Stone

Access the park's beautiful, high alpine meadow and lake at the base of Oregon's 2nd tallest volcanic peak, Mt. Jefferson (10,497ft).

From the Breightenbush Lake PCT trailhead (5,600ft Elevation) you hike through a thick forest until you reach an old burn area. This area was burned from a forest fire and has rebirthed lush green plants and bushes to help feed all the animals in the area. After a mile of climbing through the burned forest you pass the rocky topped Pyramid Butte that takes you back into the thick forest. You'll continue following the PCT through the forest with a tree branch framed, window view of Mt Hood.

Once you break out of the forest around 6,393ft of Elevation you start to see Mt Jefferson. Keep climbing up and up the North face of Park Ridge passing by melted snow lakes and ponds with patches of snow feeding them from their shores. When you reach the top of Park Ridge it is a great place to stop, take off your pack and hike to the West (your right if facing Mt Jefferson).

There is a trail that takes you to the summit of Park Ridge (7,018ft Elevation) which is a great place to camp for the night if it's not too windy (I've done it but that is a different story), take a bunch of photos, and also try to locate the two Summit Bench Marks left in the rocks by the U.S. Geological Surveyors in 1958. Once you are rested you can start your 1,500ft elevation decent down the PCT into Jefferson Park. It is still another 1.5 miles from here until you reach the center of the park.

The park has many lakes and trailways to explore so, once you find a good spot to camp, go try to find all the lakes. There are no campfires allowed in the park area, and camping is only allowed in designated camping spots. Each lake has it's own feel and magic about it. Even though it gets really crowed with people in the summer, and into the fall, there is so much beauty here you almost have to see it every year. The trees in the park have been growing and spreading, turning this high alpine meadow into a forest and the mass openness feel is fading.

I chose to hike the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) from the Breitenbush trailhead which gives you awesome views of Mt Hood as you hike to the South to Park Ridge. That is where your eyes get their first view of the beauty that Jeff Park is.

The many lakes and ponds look like mirrors reflecting the blue sky back to you in a sea of green. The night I was here I was able to capture a photo of the International Space Station flying over Mt Jefferson and Scout Lake while having a full moon light up our surroundings.

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Overall rating: 

Great trail

This was an amazing way to get into Jefferson park. There were still large patches of snow crossings but was fine to do in trail shoes. Mosquitos were really bad at trailhead but disappeared once on the trail. The biggest downfall is the road. I drive a RAV4 and still felt uncomfortable driving. Doable but definitely wish I had better tires!

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