Three Sisters Wilderness: Rebel Rock Loop

The Three Sisters Wilderness is an incredible place. Ranging from old growth Douglas fir forests in the west to ponderosa pine forests in the east with 10,000 foot peaks and alpine meadows between. The eastern half of this Wilderness definitely attracts many more visitors every year, because of the abundant lakes, high mountain peaks and close proximity to Bend, Oregon. The distance from major cities and the elevation gain on the western Three Sisters Wilderness trails seems to keep the trails nearly empty.

Old growth that flanks the trail for the first 2 miles

There are few hikes in each hiking book that are listed as strenuous, Rebel Rock Loop was one of those. I always like to challenge myself so a 12.3 mile hike with a 3,300 foot climb sounded like a blast. Knowing that the hike would top out above 5,000 feet I figured there would be at least some lingering snow patches, but I was wrong. Checking the SNOTEL webpage is my favorite way of assessing snow level before I head out.

Small creek crossing

Knowing that it was going to be a pretty hot day I wanted to get on the trail fairly early, but it didn't really happen, so I ended up stepping off about 11:00am. Quickly I was drenched in sweat, it was probably already about 70 and the humidity was high. As I continued up the Rebel Creek Trail the trees started to become smaller and smaller. There were about five small creek crossings, all could have been jumped across or gone around. I wasn't sure how much water would be found once I reached the top, so I kept my bottle full of amazing ice cold water from the many side streams. Even though you're following Rebel Creek for about 4.5 miles you're rarely next to it after the two bridge crossings of it, so consider bringing lots of water or drinking as you go from the side streams.

The trail junction with Rebel Rock Trail: Keep right

Without fail every time I hike or camp I forget something fairly important, this time it was the guidebook. Thankfully I had my map and had read and reread the description... if not I might have taken a wrong turn. After arriving at the small meadow pictured above, you need to ignore the trail that veers left and keep right, even though the trail appears to nearly disappear at points. Also, shortly after this the trail will seem to go around the mountain, it switchbacks, watch closely after this junction for the trail to cut uphill to your left.
The first vista of the hike

After a bit more climbing you come to the first of many incredible vistas. The trail now clings to the side of a steep hill and climbs slightly through fields of wildflowers.

I noticed the three rock cairns near the trail, but didn't see the side trail leading to the lookout. Also given my late start I didn't want to spend much time looking, so I kept on the Rebel Rock Trail

Rock cairns near Rebel Rock Lookout

This hike should definitely be done on a clear day, the views are more than worth the climb. Also there were a few spots that one could camp that wouldn't impact the fragile wildflowers on the ridge. I imagine the sunrise over the Cascades would be one you would remember for years.

View southeast the scars of past clear cuts are very viable
Outstanding view of the Cascades

 After reaching the top I knew that the downhill portion wouldn't take me nearly as long as the uphill so I spent quite a while enjoying the views and wildflowers. If you're day hiking this the ridge is a perfect place for a lunch break. Sadly because of my late start I couldn't spend even more time up there.

The beginning of the decent on Rebel Rock Trail

After finishing my water along the ridge I was happy to low rumble of a creak.

Looking down the trail from the slight side trail I noticed a massive Douglas Fir. Under it looked like an awesome place to take a little break.

The view up

The remainder of the hike was fairly steep and now know why my book suggested hiking the loop clockwise. It wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable hiking the loop counter-clockwise, because much less water is found on the Rebel Rock Trail. As you descend you will see the old telegraph wires from the Rebel Rock Lookout, they are strung through holders about 10 feet up in some of the trees and the wire hangs down near parts of the trail. Just before you reach the end of the trail you may notice a few more wildflowers.

 Come and enjoy this quite, beautiful section of the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Directions from Blue River:
Follow Highway 126 east 4 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 19 (Aufderheide Forest Drive). Follow FR 19 for 14.5 paved miles to the well marked Rebel trailhead.

Hike Distance: 12.3 miles

Hike Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet

Highest Point: Near Rebel Rock Lookout 5,060 feet

Usage: Light, didn't see anyone

: 4 out of 5

Hike Time:
6 hours

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