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Cache Meadows via Cripple Creek Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Cripple Creek where it runs through Cache Meadows (bobcat)
Oregon yampah (Perideridia oregana), Cripple Creek Trail (bobcat)
Oak meadow, Cripple Creek Trail (bobcat)
Marsh violets (Viola palustris), Cache Meadows (bobcat)
Douglas-firs, Cripple Creek Trail (bobcat)
The lollipop loop to Cache Meadows (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Cripple Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Cache Meadows
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 11.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2845 feet
  • High Point: 4,395 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late Spring into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No



The low-elevation Cripple Creek Trailhead near the power company complex of Three Lynx gives hikers access to meadows and lakes over 4,000 feet when forest roads may still be blocked by snow. Starting from this trailhead also cuts out a longer drive on winding forest roads. Most of this hike is in or along the edge of the Roaring River Wilderness, and includes large old growth trees, high meadows, and small lakes. Mosquitoes are a presence once the snow has melted, but this is also the best time to check out the wildflowers of the meadow environment. Both the Cripple Creek and Cache Meadow Trails have wet sections and can be overgrown in places. A hike from the Cripple Creek Trailhead or the Cache Meadow Trailhead can also serve as an access corridor to the Rock Lakes Basin or Serene Lake for a longer day hike or an overnight backpack.

At the trailhead, note the aqueduct coming down from a surge tank on the hill above. Hike up on the Cripple Creek Trail #703 and switchback in a slope forest of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, Oregon grape and sword fern. Note some big Douglas-firs here. The trail keeps along the boundary of the Roaring River Wilderness in this section. Pass through a small talus opening and then there’s a view past a large Douglas-fir. Poison oak lines the trail and sometimes overhangs it. Cross more open talus slopes. Traverse up and switchback twice. Cripple Creek runs far down to the right. Pass a dripping, mossy face and then head up and across a wonderful, open grassy meadow lined with oaks. Yampah, woolly sunflower, rosy plectritis, and ball-head and hyacinth cluster lilies bloom here in mid-summer. The trail continues upward, passing under bowers of vine maple and hazel. Then hike on the level in old growth forest. Switchback at a creek, and then switchback twice more to pass a burbling spring on the left. The trail keeps on up above a Douglas-fir wooded bench and crosses an old road bed (130 spur).

Continue up in hemlock, Douglas-fir, and cedar woods with an open understory and note a cone-shaped knoll to the left. Reach a campfire circle and recross the 130 spur. The trail rises, switchbacks, and makes a traverse. Switchback again and keep up the steep slope, switchbacking two more times before crossing a vine maple-rimmed talus slope. Pass through copses of large Douglas-fir and rise to a large talus slope with views of the Cripple Creek and Clackamas River drainages. The trail switchbacks on an old road bed and enters secondary forest. Switchback off the road after a few yards. The trail here is very brushy before it reaches FR 4635 and crosses it. Cross the road and head up in scrappy woods. Then, enter silver fir, bear-grass, huckleberry woods and cross two old road beds. The trail drops a little in old growth Douglas-fir, silver fir, hemlock forest with leafy openings. Pass a lake on the right. Mosquitoes also abound here. Reach the 140 spur of FR 4635 and go 50 yards to the right to the Cache Meadow Trailhead.

Head up the Cache Meadows Trail #702 into huckleberry-cloaked woods and sign in at the permit box for the Roaring River Wilderness. Reach a junction. There are two trails heading off to the right here. Take the low-water trail down to a lake and head along its shore through thickets of spiraea. Entering the woods, reach the junction with the high-water trail. The trail drops on a rocky tread and reaches the junction with the Cripple Creek Trail - going right takes you to the disjunct Bob's Buck Camp Trailhead 0.6 miles down the road from the Cache Meadows Trailhead. Go left and pass a sign for the Roaring River Wilderness. There’s a tarn to the left. Cross a creek and rise in silver fir, mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir woods with huckleberries and bear-grass. See a lake to the left through the trees. The trail rises and then drops in huckleberry woods. Cripple Creek runs to the right. Rise again and hike alongside Cripple Creek Lake, passing a couple of campsites. The trail makes two short switchbacks over a rise and then heads up along Cripple Creek. Come to a wet meadow blooming with marsh-marigolds, shooting stars, marsh violets and buttercups. One of the Cache Meadows lakes is to the left. Slosh across Cripple Creek here - there’s no other way other than to get your feet wet - and reach the Grouse Point-Cripple Creek Trail Junction.

Here you can see the site of the old Cache Meadows shelter, burned by vandals in 2002. There’s also a new sign for the Cripple Creek Trail here. Go right to visit the westernmost of the Cache Meadows, and then return to the junction to hike along the Grouse Point Trail #517 in old growth silver fir/ mountain hemlock woods. Cache Meadows are to your left. Mosquitoes about here in early summer. Reach the four-way Grouse Point-Cache Meadow Trail Junction, and go straight on the Cache Meadows Trail #702. Cross Cripple Creek and head into the woods, rising and passing a lush meadow on the left. The trail descends through another meadow and passes a lake on the left. After this, the trail descends a linear meadow where the rocky path doubles as a watercourse. The trail departs from its incarnation as a flowing stream and heads into the woods, heading down and passing a meadow on the left. Drop again to a junction and go right and then right again to take the path back to the 140 spur road, whence you will proceed down the slope on the Cripple Creek Trail the same way you came up.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Poison oak on lower sections of the trail
  • Self-issued Wilderness Permit required


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Cripple Creek #703 (USFS)
  • Cache Meadow Trail #702 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492 and High Rock, OR #493
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area (partial)

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain

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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