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Duffy Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 20:01, 20 August 2018 by Justpeachy (Talk | contribs)

Duffy Butte and Duffy Lake (Cheryl Hill)
  • Start point: Duffy Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Duffy Lake
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • High point: 4,800 feet
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: June-November
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This easy family-friendly hike access a pretty lake in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The trail is very popular with both hikers and equestrians so it is dusty and you'll want to watch for horse droppings. Come in August or September to avoid the mosquitoes.

After filling out a wilderness permit at the trailhead, set off through the trees. After 0.1mi you'll pass a trail on the left that leads to Big Meadows Horse Camp. As you hike, notice the big Douglas fir and hemlock in this shady forest.

At 1.5 miles you'll pass a junction with the Turpentine Trail on the left. This trail heads north toward Turpentine Peak. You'll stay straight, crossing the North Santiam River at 2.6 miles. By the middle of summer this river is dry and the crossing is easy, but in early summer you may have to wade across.

At 3.1 miles pass the junction with the Lava Lakes Trail on the right, and shortly thereafter at 3.4 miles the official trail makes a hard right and heads off to the right towards Mowich Lake and Santiam Lake (see below). User trails heading straight and to the left head to campsites and the lake. Duffy Butte - covered in silver snags that are the remnants of the 2003 B&B Complex Fires - towers over the opposite shore. If you hike around to the left to the far west end of the lake you will be able to see Three Fingered Jack.

If you are camping here remember that campfires must be at least 100 feet away from the lake. The Forest Service asks that you only camp in designated campsites (although they do not provide a map or tell you how many such sites there are.) Make sure to properly secure your food. Gray jays and golden-mantled ground squirrels are common here and will steal your food. The lake is very popular with both day hikers and backpackers. Help minimize your impact by sticking to established trails and packing out all trash.

This hike can be extended several ways. Back on the main trail you will hike along the length of the lake with side trails on the left leading to more campsites. Cross the lake's outlet, dry in late summer. At the four-mile mark you will reach a junction. If you turn right and hike half a mile to a junction with the Dixie Lakes Trail and another 0.6mi beyond that, you will reach beautiful Santiam Lake.

Alternatively you can turn left on the Blue Lake Trail and head to Mowich Lake. The trail passes through a pretty meadow where asters bloom in late summer. The trail starts climbing, enters part of the burn area, then re-enters the forest. One mile from the junction A side trail on the left heads downhill to the southern end of Mowich Lake. Across the lake at the north end is Red Butte. Much of the forest surrounding this lake burned in 2003, but not all of it. Back on the main trail user trails lead to a few campsites in the trees.

If you wish to keep going you will leave the forest behind and enter the burn again where millions of new trees are growing amongst the snags. 5.9 miles from the trailhead you will reach a junction with the Dixie Lakes Trail on the right. This trail heads towards Santiam Lake. Staying straight on the Blue Lake Trail you will pass tiny Alice Lake at 6.2 miles. If you continue another 0.8mi you will descend 200 feet to the junction with the Bowerman Lake Trail.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 parking fee or Northwest Forest Pass.
  • A wilderness self-issue permit (available at trailhead) is required.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan

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.