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Difference between revisions of "Jefferson Park from Whitewater Trailhead Hike"

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[[Image:Huckleberries near PCT.JPG|thumb|300px|Red huckleberries near PCT, late September ''(romann)'']]
 
[[Image:Huckleberries near PCT.JPG|thumb|300px|Red huckleberries near PCT, late September ''(romann)'']]
 
[[Image:Unnamed Lake.JPG|thumb|300px|Unnamed lake between Scout Lake and Bays Lake ''(romann)'']]
 
[[Image:Unnamed Lake.JPG|thumb|300px|Unnamed lake between Scout Lake and Bays Lake ''(romann)'']]
[[Image:Jeffparkflier.jpg|thumb|300px|Forest Service flier showing where you can camp]]
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{{Start point|Whitewater Trailhead}}
 
{{Start point|Whitewater Trailhead}}
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=== Hike Description ===
 
=== Hike Description ===
  
<b>**NOTE: Due to the 2017 Whitewater Fire, the entirety of Whitewater Trail #3429 is closed.**</b>
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This is the most popular trail to [[Jefferson Park]] since it is the shortest and easiest access. The other two other options start from the [[Breitenbush Trailhead]] the [[South Breitenbush Trailhead]]. The first 3.75 miles of this hike burned in the 2017 Whitewater Fire, and the trail was closed for two years until the Forest Service reopened it on August 1, 2019. While this is still the shortest and fastest way into Jefferson Park, the experience is now very different. On the plus side, the fire has opened up the views. On the down side, there is virtually no shade until you get to the first crossing of Whitewater Creek, making this a harder hike during hot summer days.
  
This is a shorter, easier, and the most popular trail to [[Jefferson Park]]. It is also somewhat less scenic approach comparing with two other options - from the [[Breitenbush Trailhead]] access (over Park Ridge) and from the [[South Breitenbush Trailhead]] (along S. Fork Breitenbush River). However, this trail does offer one of the best close-up views on [[Mount Jefferson]] at about 3 miles in, and - being the shortest approach - means you can get to Jefferson Park sooner and will have more time end energy exploring the Park itself. Its cool alpine lakes, surrounded by patches of trees and nice wildflower meadows, make a great destination on a warm summer day.
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You'll start to climb moderately through burned old-growth forest. After four wide switchbacks and 1.6 miles turn right at the junction. The trail becomes more rocky and dusty. Some patches of vegetation and trees survived the fire, and plants such as beargrass, huckleberry, and fireweed are quickly growing back. You will have numerous views through the burnt snags, including pretty consistent views of [[Mount Jefferson]] to the east.  
  
You'll start to climb moderately through old-growth forest. After 4 wide switchbacks and 1.5 miles turn right at the junction. The trail becomes more rocky and dusty from this point, but it's not bad. You'll come by a couple of viewpoints opening to the west and then you will hike along the ridge where you'll see a first-class view to [[Mount Jefferson]] to the east. At mile 4.0 there's Whitewater Creek crossing - your first water source. The crossing has no bridge (sometimes the hikers construct a seasonal makeshift bridge) but the creek is pretty small in summer and boulders are convenient to step on. After creek crossing the trail becomes really steep for about 0.2 miles and then joins the PCT. Keep left at PCT, which crosses one or two small creeks on a bridge and a couple small meadows. Soon you'll break out of the forest and the trail will level as you enter Jefferson Park.  
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After a cliff traverse you will reach the edge of the burn and the first crossing of Whitewater Creek at 3.75 miles. This is also the first water source of the hike. The crossing has no bridge (sometimes hikers construct a seasonal makeshift bridge) but the creek is pretty small in summer and boulders are convenient to step on. After another quarter mile the trail meets up with the PCT. Keep left at the junction, heading uphill.  
  
Here many small trails come in all directions from PCT. Come about a quarter mile on PCT ignoring side trails for now, and then take a wide unsigned trail to the left, which will come to the north edge of [[Scout Lake]] (if you want to extend this hike you may stay on PCT which will come to [[Russell Lake]] in about 0.8 mile). This side trail comes along the Scout Lake and then continues to the north side of [[Bays Lake]]. Take a short spur trail to the right to see a small Rock Lake with yellow-colored Park Butte towering over it. After taking pictures, you may continue to and around Bays Lake (the trail dead-ends half way around this lake and circling it requires some easy route-finding), but for this hike just backtrack to Scout Lake, turn right (south), and hike along its west shore. Take an obvious trail right (west) to an unnamed small pond and then to the south edge of a beautiful Bays Lake with its steep rocky shores. Watch  children near the drop-offs here. There's a maze of trails in this small area, but with the map (see one at the bottom of this page) you can use the lakes as beacons so it's hard to get lost. After exploring Bays Lake, head back east. The PCT is pretty close to the right at this point, but it is below very steep slope (you may take a shortcut trail to PCT here, otherwise keep east until you re-join the PCT). Keep right on the PCT and return the way you came.
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Cross Whitewater Creek again at 4.7 miles, this time on a footbridge. A lovely meadow just before the bridge blooms with hundreds of wildflowers in July (be aware that peak bloom usually coincides with peak mosquitos). The trail parallels a small gurgling stream as you make the final uphill push. Soon you'll break out of the forest and the trail will level as you enter Jefferson Park.  
  
There are some fire and camping restrictions in Jefferson Park. In 2016 the Willamette National Forest started requiring backpackers to acquire a permit in advance to stay overnight in Jefferson Park. Permits may be obtained from [http://www.recreation.gov/permits/Jefferson_Park_Designated_Campsite_Reservations/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=details&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=75009 Recreation.gov]. As of August 2016 the [http://www.recreation.gov/permits/map_of_Jefferson_Park_Designated_Campsite_Reservations/r/wildernessAreaMap.do?page=map&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=75009 campsite location map] is not posted in Jefferson Park or at the Whitewater Trailhead, so be sure to make note of your campsite location before leaving home, or print out the map and bring it with you. Campfires are banned throughout the area (stoves are OK).  
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There are many options for exploration. Side trails on the left lead to [[Scout Lake]], which is the closest lake to the main trail. Traveling around to its north side will reveal the iconic view of Mt. Jefferson rising above the lake. A network of unofficial trails here allow you to also explore [[Bays Lake]], Rock Lake, and Park Lake. You can also stay on the PCT which will come to a side trail leading to [[Russell Lake]] in about 0.8 mile. Wherever you go, remember to stay on the trail to preserve the fragile meadows. When you are done exploring, return the way you came.
  
Lastly, be prepared that current conditions in Jefferson Park may be very different from conditions at lower elevation hikes. Like all high-elevation hikes, this place may get cold even in the summer, although if the weather is fair the nights are usually quite warm in August and September. If you come before the middle of July, expect to see a plenty of snow. The lakes don't usually thaw there until the end of June or the beginning of July. Also, mosquitoes can be plentiful in July and first half of August, so some kind of repellent may be useful. Having said that, this area is truly unique, but do come prepared with extra clothing, food, map and other essentials.
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If staying overnight, be aware that camping is limited to designated sites, so you may wish to print out a copy of the campsite location map for [https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd503723.pdf Scout, Bays, Park, and Rock Lakes] or [https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd503724.pdf Russell Lake] and bring it with you. Campfires are banned throughout the area (stoves are OK).  
  
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Lastly, be prepared that current conditions in Jefferson Park may be very different from conditions at lower elevation hikes. Like all high-elevation hikes, this place may get cold even in the summer, although if the weather is fair the nights are usually quite warm in August and September. If you come before the middle of July, expect to see a plenty of snow. The lakes don't usually thaw there until the end of June or the beginning of July. Also, mosquitoes can be plentiful in July and first half of August.
  
  
 
=== Regulations or Restrictions, etc. ===
 
=== Regulations or Restrictions, etc. ===
* Northwest Forest Pass required at the trailhead.
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* Northwest Forest Pass required at the trailhead. Passes available for purchase on site.
* Dogs OK
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* Dogs OK.
* Fires are banned in Jefferson Park; stoves OK
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* Fires are banned in Jefferson Park; stoves OK.
* Designated campsite permits must be obtained ahead of time from [http://www.recreation.gov/permits/Jefferson_Park_Designated_Campsite_Reservations/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=details&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=75009 Recreation.gov] if you are camping in Jefferson Park.  
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* If camping within 250 feet of any of the lakes in Jefferson Park you must camp within a designated site.
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* Maximum group size is 12 people and 12 head of stock.
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* Starting in 2020 you will need to purchase a permit from Recreation.gov specific to the trailhead you are starting from. The Forest Service will announce specifics.
  
  
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=== More Links ===
 
=== More Links ===
* See more information at [http://www.somewebsite.com Describe the link here]  
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* [https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recarea/?recid=4275  Whitewater Trail #3429 (USFS)]
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* [https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd503722.pdf Jefferson Park Vicinity Map (USFS)]
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* [https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recarea/?recid=4241  Jefferson Park Area Information (USFS)]
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* [https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd503723.pdf  Campsite map for Scout, Bays, Park, and Rock Lakes (USFS)]
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* [https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd503724.pdf  Campsite map for Russell Lake (USFS)]
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* [https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/12/15/whitewater-fire-mount-jefferson-wilderness-forest-service-allow-burn-out-control/941739001/  Did the Forest Service ignore the Whitewater Fire and allow it to burn out of control? (Statesman Journal)]
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* [https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2019/08/07/wildfire-transformed-whitewater-trail-mount-jefferson-wilderness-jefferson-park/1922299001/  Mount Jefferson’s iconic trail, now reopened, transformed by wildfire (Statesman Journal)]
  
  

Latest revision as of 02:20, 15 August 2019

Mount Jefferson from Whitewater Trail (romann)
Bays Lake (romann)
Park Butte from the south shore of Scout Lake (romann)
Red huckleberries near PCT, late September (romann)
Unnamed lake between Scout Lake and Bays Lake (romann)


  • Start point: Whitewater TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Jefferson Park
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: (Out-and-back or backpack)
  • Distance: 11.0 miles (round trip)
  • Elevation gain: 1,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • High Point: 5,880 feet
  • Seasons: Mid-July - early October
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Very

Contents

Hike Description

This is the most popular trail to Jefferson Park since it is the shortest and easiest access. The other two other options start from the Breitenbush Trailhead the South Breitenbush Trailhead. The first 3.75 miles of this hike burned in the 2017 Whitewater Fire, and the trail was closed for two years until the Forest Service reopened it on August 1, 2019. While this is still the shortest and fastest way into Jefferson Park, the experience is now very different. On the plus side, the fire has opened up the views. On the down side, there is virtually no shade until you get to the first crossing of Whitewater Creek, making this a harder hike during hot summer days.

You'll start to climb moderately through burned old-growth forest. After four wide switchbacks and 1.6 miles turn right at the junction. The trail becomes more rocky and dusty. Some patches of vegetation and trees survived the fire, and plants such as beargrass, huckleberry, and fireweed are quickly growing back. You will have numerous views through the burnt snags, including pretty consistent views of Mount Jefferson to the east.

After a cliff traverse you will reach the edge of the burn and the first crossing of Whitewater Creek at 3.75 miles. This is also the first water source of the hike. The crossing has no bridge (sometimes hikers construct a seasonal makeshift bridge) but the creek is pretty small in summer and boulders are convenient to step on. After another quarter mile the trail meets up with the PCT. Keep left at the junction, heading uphill.

Cross Whitewater Creek again at 4.7 miles, this time on a footbridge. A lovely meadow just before the bridge blooms with hundreds of wildflowers in July (be aware that peak bloom usually coincides with peak mosquitos). The trail parallels a small gurgling stream as you make the final uphill push. Soon you'll break out of the forest and the trail will level as you enter Jefferson Park.

There are many options for exploration. Side trails on the left lead to Scout Lake, which is the closest lake to the main trail. Traveling around to its north side will reveal the iconic view of Mt. Jefferson rising above the lake. A network of unofficial trails here allow you to also explore Bays Lake, Rock Lake, and Park Lake. You can also stay on the PCT which will come to a side trail leading to Russell Lake in about 0.8 mile. Wherever you go, remember to stay on the trail to preserve the fragile meadows. When you are done exploring, return the way you came.

If staying overnight, be aware that camping is limited to designated sites, so you may wish to print out a copy of the campsite location map for Scout, Bays, Park, and Rock Lakes or Russell Lake and bring it with you. Campfires are banned throughout the area (stoves are OK).

Lastly, be prepared that current conditions in Jefferson Park may be very different from conditions at lower elevation hikes. Like all high-elevation hikes, this place may get cold even in the summer, although if the weather is fair the nights are usually quite warm in August and September. If you come before the middle of July, expect to see a plenty of snow. The lakes don't usually thaw there until the end of June or the beginning of July. Also, mosquitoes can be plentiful in July and first half of August.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at the trailhead. Passes available for purchase on site.
  • Dogs OK.
  • Fires are banned in Jefferson Park; stoves OK.
  • If camping within 250 feet of any of the lakes in Jefferson Park you must camp within a designated site.
  • Maximum group size is 12 people and 12 head of stock.
  • Starting in 2020 you will need to purchase a permit from Recreation.gov specific to the trailhead you are starting from. The Forest Service will announce specifics.


Trip Reports


Related Discussions / Q&A


Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William Sullivan


More Links


Maps

  • Click on hike map below to enlarge
Map of the Route


Also see:


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.