At the opening of the book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Cheryl Strayed writes, “The Pacific Crest Trail wasn’t a world to me then. It was an idea, vague and outlandish, full of promise and mystery.” Luckily you don’t have to hike all 2,663 miles of the PCT from Mexico to Canada to find that promise and mystery. In Oregon, the Pacific Crest Trail passes natural wonders like Crater Lake, the Three Sisters Mountains and Mt. Hood before ending in the town of Cascade Locks at the Bridge of the Gods. Get a taste of the Oregon portion of the PCT this summer with a day hike.

Cascade Locks: Enjoy a moderate, 4.4-mile round trip hike from the parking lot near the Bridge of the Gods up to Dry Creek Falls. The trail goes through lush forest to arrive at the base of the 75-foot waterfall. Lengthen the hike by continuing on another 1.6 miles to see the interesting basalt pinnacles between Dry Creek and Herman Creek.

Timberline Lodge: What a great combo — the epic PCT and the lovely, historic lodge constructed at the base of Mt. Hood by the Works Progress Administration. Several hikes leave right from the lodge. Check out the easy 4.4-mile roundtrip hike to Zigzag Canyon, the short but steep 2.2-mile hike to Silcox Hut or the strenuous 12.2-mile loop to Paradise Park and back.

Three Sisters: The PCT traverses the crest of the Cascade Mountains for 40 miles through the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. The challenging terrain offers gorgeous views of Oregon’s volcanoes. Keeners hike the very rugged 20-mile section between McKenzie and Santiam Pass. Out-and-back routes of any length are another option from either of trailhead.

Crater Lake: Thirty-three miles of the PCT pass through the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park. An alternate trail from Rim Village takes hikers to the dramatic rim of the caldera and follows it for 6 miles on the east side of the lake.

Save the date: Don’t miss the annual Pacific Crest Trail Days in Cascade Locks, Sept. 5-7, 2014. Check out gear, take classes and watch films to inspire your own PCT adventure.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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  1. Brad says…

    Thanks for the tips, but you did not include a good summary of each hike: best-dates, road conditions, trail conditions, “getting there”, permits, etc.

    Written on June 4th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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