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Sister Rocks Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. St. Helens from First Sister, Sister Rocks (bobcat)
Mt. Adams from the rocky viewpoint at the Observation-Sister Rocks Trail Junction (bobcat)
Common juniper berries, first viewpoint, Sister Rocks Trail (bobcat)
Observation Peak from Sister Rocks (bobcat)
The Sister Rocks hike from the Observation Peak Trailhead (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Observation Peak TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Sister Rocks
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • High point: 4,268 feet
  • Elevation gain: 750 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Late spring through mid-fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Sister Rocks are a pair of outcroppings in the Sister Rocks Research Natural Area, which was established for the study of climax silver fir forest. The two prominences offer somewhat different vistas as you move from one vantage point to another, and all the snow-capped peaks in our area, from Mount Rainier to Mount Jefferson are visible on a clear day. This is a short hike, but it can be combined with other destinations in the Trapper Creek Wilderness, which lies just to the south.

Sign in at the Wilderness permit box and head up the trail: there’s a trailside fringe of blooming avalanche lilies here in mid-spring and later in the season, you will be greeted by a carpet of glacier lilies. Very soon you enter old growth ridge forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir, and noble fir. The path undulates a little and then rises again in silver fir forest with a bear-grass carpet. Pass a Trapper Creek Wilderness sign and reach the Observation-Sister Rocks Trail Junction on a ridge crest (A sign for Sister Rocks is just down the trail on a tree). Before taking the Sister Rocks use trail, however, go left to a rocky viewpoint, which is worth a stop as it provides a good vista towards Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier.

Then take the Sister Rocks Trail up through noble/silver fir forest, drop a little, and hike steadily up to a rock viewpoint carpeted with lichen, moss, and common juniper (This is actually the high point on the hike). Some of the view here is blocked by trees, so continue on to descend and continue up steeply to the crest of the first, and higher, Sister Rock, distinguished by its vertical rusting pipe. Just to the west is Second Sister, a short scramble down and up, which offers more expansive views than First Sister. Looking south, you’ll see the Trapper Creek drainage, with Howe Ridge and Observation Peak on the left and Soda Peaks on the right. Mount Hood dominates the far horizon. To the west, get a view across the Siouxon Creek drainage to Siouxon Peak and Huffman Peak. Look north and east to Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. Notice also that there are three Geodetic Survey markers, used for triangulation purposes, on Second Sister!

You can return the way you came or scramble down the ridge from Second Sister to FR 58, where you go right for a road walk back to the Observation Peak Trailhead.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • (Note that the Sister Rocks use trail is not shown on these maps):
  • Green Trails Maps: Lookout Mtn, WA #396
  • Trapper Creek Wilderness (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Trapper Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

More Links


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.