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Jefferson Park from South Breitenbush Trailhead

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Jefferson from one of Jefferson Park's many alpine lakes at sunrise(Jamey Pyles)
Mt. Jefferson hiding behind a late season Aster (Steve Hart)
Russell Lake and Mount Jefferson in the harsh mid morning light (Jamey Pyles)
Forest Service flier showing where you can camp

  • Start point: South Breitenbush TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Jefferson Park
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 13 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 2900 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: July - September
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes, at Jefferson Park on weekends


Hike Description

There are several ways to reach the alpine paradise Jefferson Park, However there are three most popular trails. If you want the most scenery packed hike from trailhead to destination, the Jefferson Park via Park Ridge Hike is for you. If you prefer a shorter, easier (which also makes it more crowded) stroll with nice mid aged and old trees and a killer extra viewpoint of Mount Jefferson, Hike the Jefferson Park from Whitewater Trailhead hike. This is the third route into the park, from the South Breitenbush Trailhead. It is longer, at 13 miles round trip and climbs about 1000 more feet of elevation than the Whitewater Trail. This hike has a relentless, moderately steep grade throughout its 6.5 mile track and the trail surface is mostly rock for the last 4 miles, and is fairly rough on the feet. That being said, the South Breitenbush trail does tour some scenic territory in the last 2 miles as it wanders around several flower filled meadows before descending into Jefferson Park.

From the Trailhead, take off through the forest and reach the Crag Trail Junction in a few steps. Continue on the South Breitenbush trail. The grade from here gets a bit steeper as it climbs higher and higher above the South Breitenbush River. You will cross several small creeks within the first 1.5 miles, then the trail condition takes a turn for the worse. At about 2 miles, the trail reaches the Junction with the Bear Point Trail.

Continue as the trail gets rockier and steeper from here. Back in the 1990's you could see Mount Jefferson over the new trees from here out, but since then the trees have obscured the view. Cross 2 more small streams. 3.5 miles in is the most scenic part of the hike. The trail crosses several small meadows with alpine flowers and seasonal ponds for the next mile or so. This gives a hiker the false sense that they are very close to Jefferson Park. 3 miles later you will find yourself finally descending into the beautiful Jefferson Park.

If you stay on the main trail, it will take you to Russell Lake shortly. It is also recommended that you check out Scout Lake and Bays Lake. If you explore off the PCT, you will find several other smaller lakes and more solitude. If you take the PCT to the north, you can climb to Park Ridge, with an expansive view of the park below and a reach-out-and-touch-it view of Jefferson. Return the way you came.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at the trailhead.
  • Designated campsite permits must be obtained ahead of time from Recreation.gov if you are camping in Jefferson Park.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

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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.