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Twin Lakes via Whetstone Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Lower Twin Lake (bobcat)
Big trees, Whetstone Creek (bobcat)
Golden chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), Silver King Mountain (bobcat)
View of Silver King Mountain, Twin Lakes Trail (bobcat)
Upper Twin Lake (bobcat)
Route along Whetstone Ridge to Twin Lakes (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo

  • Start point: Whetstone TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Lower (East) Twin Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 15.8 miles
  • High Point: 4,535 feet
  • Elevation gain: 2595 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer to mid-fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Twin Lakes of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness nestle in the northern bowl of the Battle Creek drainage below Silver King and Mother Lode Mountains. This is about as remote a destination as you can get from a trailhead in the Bull of the Woods and there are various ways to access this valley. The route via the Whetstone Ridge takes you through shady woods but also across open slopes, affording views in all directions.

The Whetstone Trail #546 drops down from the entrance to the parking area through rhododendrons, huckleberries, bear-grass, and second-growth silver fir, Douglas-fir, and mountain hemlock. Reach a wilderness sign-in box. Then, about 100 yards farther on, the trail enters shady old growth with some lovely trees: big Douglas-firs, western hemlock and silver fir. Pass the Bull of the Woods Wilderness sign. The trail rises and switchbacks three times past more large conifers. Then there’s a level traverse where you encounter a huge Douglas-fir and cross the bottom of a talus slope with its squeaking pikas. See a willow and alder lined tarn to the left and rocky cliffs above. The trail makes six shortish switchbacks upward and then levels at a small tarn. It then crosses a small creek and rises to the Whetstone-Whetstone Mountain Trail West Junction, the latter being the Willamette National Forest's Trail #3369. From here, there is the optional diversion, of about two miles round-trip, to the summit of Whetstone Mountain (see the Whetstone Mountain Hike).

To continue on towards Twin Lakes, go left down Trail 546, which shares this section of the ridge with the 3369 trail. Silver fir, Alaska yellow-cedar, mountain hemlock, noble fir and Douglas-fir forest this wide ridge crest. The trail drops gently through rhododendrons. Pass some large noble firs and come to the Whetstone-Whetstone Mountain Trail East Junction, where Trail #3369 peels off down the slope in shady forest. Keep left on Trail #546.

The trail makes a traverse in Douglas-fir, silver fir and western hemlock forest and then heads up before dropping rather steeply. Ascend again along the forested ridge crest, and then undulate through bear-grass, rhododendrons and huckleberries. You can get glimpses of Silver King Mountain through the trees. Mountain hemlock and noble fir begin to dominate. Pass a campsite on the right and then head up, switchbacking four times up a more open slope cloaked with common juniper, pinemat manzanita, and snow brush. There are views of Battle Ax and Mount Jefferson. The trail drops and makes a traverse along a brushy saddle. Pass below a rocky prominence and traverse an open boulder slope supporting clumps of vine maple, cascara and thimbleberry. Skeletal snags stand like candles. Reach an open saddle and the Whetstone-Bagby Hot Springs Trail Junction. Down to the left, the Bagby Hot Springs Trail #544 leads to Silver King Lake (See the Silver King Lake via Whetstone Ridge Hike).

Keep right on 544 and traverse past a spring. This section can be a little overgrown. Swish through bear-grass, boxwood, and huckleberries. This is mostly silver fir here, with some western white pines and Douglas-fir. Pass below the rocky spires of Silver King Mountain and then head up to a saddle dominated by mountain hemlock and rhododendrons. Here find the Bagby Hot Springs-Twin Lakes Trail Junction and head down to the left for Twin Lakes.

Make a level traverse with views right to the Battle Ax ridge. The trail begins to drop with glimpses of Silver King Mountain. Then wind down to where a slide scar on the slopes of Silver King is clearly visible. The trail swings left and descends. The sparkling waters of Upper (West) Twin Lake become visible through the trees. The trail reaches lake level and crosses a creek, passing through a campsite. The path follows the north side of the lake under some big trees. There are copses of large yellow-cedars by the shoreline as well as some big western hemlocks. Cross a dry creek bed and then rise up a low ridge with a great view of the lake to the right. Descend and note through the trees a small lake to the left dotted with yellow water lilies. The trail splits at the unmarked Twin Lakes-Lower Twin Lake Trail Junction in a grove of large trees.

Go right on this spur trail for Lower (East) Twin Lake among large cedars, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir and noble fir. The trail heads across a wet area with clumps of alder and spiny wood fern. Pass a tarn on the left and switchback down (The trail may be overgrown here). The trail passes along the length of a log at a huge hemlock. Reach a small burned area and the north end of Lower (East) Twin Lake. Follow the left side of this burn over a series of downed trees to a campsite below big trees at the lakeshore. East of here, the north shore of the lake was scorched by the 2011 Mother Lode Fire. You can also scramble through brush and over windfall along the west shore to a couple of good campsites. Watch the dragonflies flitting about and enjoy the tranquility.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Battle Ax, OR #524
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit

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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.

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