Mount Jefferson Wilderness: Jack Lake to Wasco Lake

Sunset over Wasco Lake towards Black Butte
Jack Lake is an incredibly popular trailhead for good reason. The primary draw of this area is the Canyon Creek Trail, which leads to a breathtaking meadow below the northeast side of Three Finger Jack. Wasco Lake is worthy destination for a short overnight hike into the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.
Jack Lake


Mount Jefferson Wilderness Sign
Small waterfall on Canyon Creek

After a short distance on the trail you will come to the relatively shallow, but beautiful Jack Lake. There are a few large and popular campsites along the eastern shore of the lake. Continue through the campsites and you will make your way north of Jack Lake to the first trail junction. Keep right at both junctions.

The second trail junction

First view of Wasco Lake
At the second trail junction you will have to cross Canyon Creek. There are several large rocks that have been placed to facilitate an easy crossing, but during high water it could be shady. Not long after crossing Canyon Creek you will begin your decent towards the Wasco Lake Basin. 

View from the western shore of Wasco Lake
 On the north shore of Wasco Lake there are several overused campsites. No more than two different groups could camp here and still have a wilderness experience. Because there was already two groups camped there I decided to head up to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). There is a short but steep trail that connects up to the PCT at Minto Pass. From this junction there is an incredible campsite about .2 miles south on the PCT.

Trail junction to the short steep trail up to the PCT

Beautiful smokey view of Wasco Lake and Black Butte
Both the sunset and sunrise were exceptional because of the two fires burning nearby. Mosquitoes were abundant in the evening, but they weren't all that bad around sunrise. After taking some photos of the sunrise I headed back to Jack Lake, so I could get on the road to the Mount Washington Wilderness.

Sunrise on Three Finger Jack

Sunrise towards Three Finger Jack from the Pacific Crest Trail

Mount Jefferson Wilderness has nearly 200 miles of trails. This short trail could be the first leg of many in one of the most beautiful areas within Cascadia.

Directions from Sisters: Follow Highway 126/20 west for 12 miles, turn right onto Forest Road(FR) 12, follow for 4 miles, veer left onto FR 1230, follow for 2 miles, turn left onto FR 1234 for nearly 7 rough miles to the end at Jack Lake. 

Hike Distance:  6 miles round trip

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 1300 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 4900 Feet

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fees: 5 dollar day pass or Northwest Forest Pass


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