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Twin Lakes-Palmateer Point Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mount Hood and Barlow Butte from Palmateer Point (bobcat)
Lower Twin Lake (bobcat)
Flower fly on bead lily (Clintonia uniflora) above Lower Twin Lake (bobcat)
Upper Twin Lake with Mt. Hood behind (bobcat)
Tolmie's penstemon (Penstemon procerus var. brachyanthus), Palmateer Point (bobcat)
The loop shown in red; other trails in blue (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo

Contents

Description

This very moderate loop takes in a variety of features: some impressive old growth montane forest at the beginning of the hike, two beautiful mountain lakes, a wildflower meadow, and a viewpoint that affords a full-on view of Mount Hood's south side. While Lower Twin Lake and Upper Twin Lake are busy destinations in the summer, you'll find a little more solitude along the Palmateer View Trail #482 before you make the loop return along Ghost Ridge (a.k.a. Tri County Ridge) on the Pacific Crest Trail. Those wishing a longer hike may want to begin with the Frog Lake Buttes Loop Hike.

Access to the Pacific Crest Trail #2000 is to the left of the restrooms at the vast Frog Lake Sno-Park. Walk a few yards past a picnic table to a T-junction and go right under mountain hemlocks and silver firs shading a bear-grass carpet. The trail passes the Pacific Crest-Frog Lake Trail Junction, which leads right to Frog Lake. Keep straight in old growth hemlock and Douglas-fir forest with a few western white pines. The Pacific Crest Trail rises gradually and switchbacks at a large western hemlock. Then, continue to traverse upwards to a ridge with a huckleberry/rhododendron/bear-grass understory below tall mountain hemlocks, silver firs and noble firs. Here, reach the Pacific Crest-Twin Lakes Trail South Junction.

Take the Twin Lakes Trail #495 down to the right, passing a large noble fir. Blue diamonds indicate this is a cross-country ski trail. Descend the east side of a ridge and notice the waters of Lower Twin Lake sparkling below. From the Twin Lakes-Lower Twin Lake Trail Junction, descend to the lakeshore at an area of campsites. It's about a mile around the lake if you wish to circle it; otherwise, enjoy the vista but note that there will almost always be a lot of campers here on fine weather summer weekends.

Return to the Twin Lakes-Lower Twin Lake Trail Junction and go right. The trail traverses up and switchbacks, makes another rising traverse and switchbacks twice more in mountain hemlock, noble fir, silver fir, and Douglas-fir forest. The path heads up past a trail sign and a talus slope with a view back to Lower Twin Lake. Then the tread drops to the shore of Upper Twin Lake and the Twin Lakes-Upper Twin Lake Trail South Junction. Mount Hood’s snowy peak rises above the lake shore woods. Go right here (Again, you could circle the lake by going left; also, if you're overnighting, this is the probably the best place to do it.) and follow the lake shore to the Twin Lakes-Palmateer View Trail Junction.

Make a right on the Palmateer View Trail #482. The trail rises, levels, and then rises again to a short spur leading right to an overhanging rock and view to Barlow Butte and Mount Hood. Rock penstemon and fragrant snow brush bloom here in the summer. From here, the trail winds down to the junction with a short tie trail leading left to the Twin Lakes Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Keep right here and continue on Trail 482. The path passes a loop spur on the right which leads to a view of Barlow Ridge. Continue to drop and pass a meadow with some large noble firs. From here, the trail drops to a crossing of Palmateer Creek on a makeshift footbridge. Pass a lush bog on the left, the source of the creek. Finally, the path reaches the Palmateer View-Palmateer Point Trail Junction in a lodgepole pine meadow carpeted with Tolmie’s penstemon. This is the site of Palmateer Camp.

A 1/3 mile spur to the top of Palmateer Point leads up to the right. Head up this trail and switchback, passing up along a dry meadow blooming with penstemon and mariposa lilies. At the summit there are clear views of Mount Hood, Barlow Butte and the Barlow Creek valley. Sulfur buckwheat, heart-leaf buckwheat, Tolmie’s penstemon, creamy stonecrop, and little sunflower bloom here in midsummer. Common juniper and pinemat manzanita form small clumps on the stony crest.

Returning to the main trail, go right and rise out of the penstemon meadow. The trail levels and then rises again in huckleberry/lodgepole pine woods, passing an abandoned tread of Trail 482 on the left, to reach the four-way Palmateer View-Devils Half Acre Trail Junction. Keep straight here (The trail on the left is the old tread of 482) and head up in dry woods with a huckleberry understory to soon reach the Pacific Crest-Palmateer View Trail Junction. Here, one turns left and begins the return: the sign says "Frog Lake 4 miles."

The Pacific Crest Trail drops and then rises gently among mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine, western white pine, silver fir, noble fir and Douglas-fir to reach the Pacific Crest-Twin Lakes Trail North Junction, with the Twin Lakes Trail #495 leading down to the left to head around the east slope of Bird Butte. Chipmunks scurry hither and thither. Continuing on the PCT and gradually rising among mountain hemlock, silver fir and noble fir, one crosses over a ridge. There are larger trees in the forest mix now. At the Pacific Crest-Twin Lakes Trail South Junction, keep straight and continue back to Frog Lake Sno-Park.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required
  • Restroom and picnic table at trailhead
  • Share trails with mountain bikers

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Wilson, OR #494 and Mt Hood, OR #462
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Eli Boschetto (PCT section)
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • Day and Section Hikes Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Paul Gerald
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Andy Selters
  • Hiking the Oregon Skyline by Charles M. Feris

More Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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