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Jefferson Park Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
Mt Jefferson and Jefferson Park from Park Ridge (Steve Hart)
A rock cairn marks the trail near the crest of Park Ridge. Note the snowfield in the background; you have to cross that to get to the top of the ridge. (Matt Reeder)
Looking north to Mt Hood (Steve Hart)
Skyline Trail sign (Steve Hart)
The route of the Pacific Crest Trail to Park Ridge (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Breitenbush Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Park Ridge
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 7.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 1385 feet
  • High point: 6,875 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: July - September
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Somewhat

Contents

Hike Description

NOTICE: Trails in this area were affected by the 2020 Lionshead Fire. Please check current closures in the Willamette National Forest before planning an outing.

After having driven here on one of the worst access roads in this part of Oregon, you'll no doubt be wondering if this hike is worth the trouble it took getting there. It most definitely is. If you are only going to Park Ridge, you'll be treated at the top with an impossibly great view of Mount Jefferson, and should you choose to continue on down to Jefferson Park (see the Jefferson Park via Park Ridge Hike), you'll discover an alpine wonderland of gorgeous lakes and meadows filled with wildflowers, with Mount Jefferson filling the sky above you. Note that first part of the hike was affected by the 2010 View Lake Complex Fire, but in 2020, the far more severe and devastating Lionshead Fire swept along the entire route, including all along Park Ridge and into Jefferson Park itself.

The trail (the Pacific Crest Trail, actually) begins at the Breitenbush Lake Trailhead, at an elevation of 5,500 feet. Not surprisingly, snow lingers here well into July. You'll start through small meadows and forests of small trees. At about mile 0.6, you'll notice a small reroute including a bridge over a rocky channel that's usually dry most of the hiking season. Cross a talus slope and, at a junction that may or may not be signed, you'll see an informal trail leading westward from the older route to Pyramid Butte.

The Crest Trail climbs through a large talus area with views of Pyramid Butte, bright red Ruddy Hill and Olallie Butte. It then resumes ascending through huckleberry meadows. The trail crosses a saddle at mile 1.5 and you'll get your first views of Mount Jefferson. The trail flattens for a bit, and then resumes a well-graded climb into subalpine terrain. The views expand to the west as the trail climbs. There are a couple of small ponds near mile 3, near the edge of timberline.

The land takes on a foreboding look above timberline. There's very little soil here and as a consequence very little plant life. The rocks form large hills resembling castles or monuments. Square, broken pieces of rock form aprons around the bases of the hills. Small seasonal streams drain lingering snowfields deep into September. As you approach the final ascent of the ridge, pay close attention to the trail and to the cairns that mark the way. There are a few sections on which it is very easy to lose the trail. As you near the crest of Park Ridge, cross one or multiple snowfields (depending on the time of year) and reclaim the trail, which at this point is very dusty and only occasionally well-defined. Finally, crest Park Ridge and look at the incredible sight in front of you: Mount Jefferson dominating the view, just four or so miles to the south of you. On a nice day (and you really shouldn't do this hike on a rainy day, unless your sole interest is solitude), the top of Park Ridge is a fantastic spot to stop for lunch, and to sit and soak in the impossibly great view of Mount Jefferson.

Note also that the ridge forms the boundary between the Mt. Hood National Forest and the Willamette National Forest. When you've had your fill of the vista, return the way you came.

Maps

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hikes In the Pacific Northwest by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • 60 Hiking Trails: Central Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking the Oregon Skyline by Charles M. Feris
  • Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by George & Patricia Semb
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Andy Selters
  • Day and Section Hikes Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Paul Gerald
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon by Eli Boschetto

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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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.