This hike is essentially entirely singletrack winding through the trees with good amounts of shade (making this a nice summer hike). There are some slightly obscured views of Mt. Bachelor, Tumalo, and South Sister along the loop. The trail is a mountain bike trail, so it's not always level hiking surface, but it is a really nice, easily accessible loop.
There is plenty of parking at the Swampy Lakes parking area. You do need a NW Forest Pass.
Start off from the Swampy Lakes parking lot. Immediately go left on the trail, so that you are paralleling the highway. You'll see nordic ski markers on the trees. There's a nordic ski sign high up on the trees at 0.7 miles. You'll be gradually ascending for the first 2.5 miles.
At nearly 2 miles, turn left to continue on the Ridge Loop
. Note, that the sign here actually says to go right for the Ridge Loop
, but you want to go left.
At 2.6 miles, turn right onto Flagline Tie
. There is just a simple marker here--but it's not labeled. This is a great section of slightly more technical trail.
At 4 miles, you'll reach a junction where you can go left or right. Take a right onto the main Flagline Trail. Note, if you were to go left on Flagline here, beware that that section of Flagline is closed until about Aug 15 for elk calving season.
Around 5.1 miles, you'll reach a junction with a lot of signs. Go left, towards the old Swampy shelter. It's a short 0.1 miles or so to where the shelter used to be--all that's there now is some slight charred remains (they burned it down recently). At this point the trail would go left for South Fork
(a superb mountain bike trail), but you'll want to stay to your right .
0.25 miles later, you'll cross a creek. If you needed, you could filter water here, but there is also a creek you'll hear off to your right, maybe a half mile before this point, which may be an easier place (not that you're likely to need to filter on this specific hike, but if you were combining it with others). A short while later you'll come to another intersection. Go right here to stay on the main trail.
At mile 6.4 is a broad 4-way intersection. Turn right on the Swampy Tie Trail
, which is a short (but more interesting) section, that joins the main trail again after about 0.2 miles. At this intersection, turn left and hike the final way back to the parking lot.
Thus, the trail sections are the Ridge Loop
, Flagline Tie
, Lower Flagline
, Swampy Lakes Loop Trail
, Swampy Tie Trail
, Swampy Lakes Loop Trail
There can be mosquitos, especially through miles 4-5.5 where there is a creek crossing and nearby creek.