“A 60-mile loop leading through dense and burned out forests, offering sweeping vistas.
— Monique Schaefers
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Wonderful trip full of great views, great duff-covered trails, naturally graveled peak trails, and lots of availability to refill water.
Self-issued wilderness permits and trailhead passes are required in several spots.
Need to Know
The east side of this trip goes through some burned out forest with little shade but it only happens in a few spots. Late in the season get water at Windigo Lakes before heading up the Diamond Peak trail.
Portions of this loop are used by Mtn bikers and equestrians (Metolius-Windigo Trail). Hikers should yield to horses by stepping off the trail on its downhill side.
This is a perfect backpack trip for scouting units. It could EASILY be 60 miles if you avoid the "failing safely" oops our unit made. We did not make the short cross country outing to the Windigo Lakes for water when we first went through. Instead we made our way up the hill just over 2 miles to a spot with no water late in the season. :-( We had to head back down to Windigo Lakes for water. Avoiding that mistake, this is a beautiful route, and many will enjoy it.
Park at the trailhead next to the ODOT gravel shed across Hwy 58. Cross Hwy 58 and head down to Trapper Creek Trailhead near Odell Lake and begin your journey on the Whitefish Creek Trail #42
until you reach Crescent Lake and the Whitefish Creek Horse Camp. Work your way through the camp and head out on the Metolius-Windigo Trail past Oldenberg lake to the Windigo Pass.
The Skyline Trail/ Oldenburg Lake Trail
(east side of this trek) is beautiful and easy. Some spots are old burned out forest. There are lots of lakes for water.
Head north on the PCT toward Diamond Peak. Late in the season water up at Windigo Lakes before heading up the peak! Windigo Lakes is a BEAUTIFUL place to camp. The water is warm and clear.
The hike up the peak opens up for panoramic vistas and swings back through old and open forests until you pop out above the tree line. A crystal clear and cold stream awaits you just below the summit. (We did not take the side trail to summit the peak.)
During this late season outing, on the north side of the peak we came upon meadows filled with wild blueberries. It smelled like we were hiking through a bowl of fruit loops, the scent of the berries was so strong!
Drop down into dense and wild forests, past many clean, cold, clear lakes as you make your way back to your car on the PCT. There are lots of opportunities for camping along the trail, so you can extend your journey over many days.
Flora & Fauna
Mountain hemlock and pacific silver fir dominate the forest canopy with occasional mixings of douglas-fir, western white pine, lodgepole pine and noble fir.