PCT: Olallie Lake to Barlow Pass

Miles 2045.6-2091.7 of the northbound PCT: Moving along the Cascade Crest from the shadow of Mount Jefferson to the foot of Mount Hood, the highest of Oregon’s volcanoes.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
72 km
Ascent
1.5 km
Descent
1.8 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
984 m
High Point
1.6 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
PCT: Olallie Lake to Barlow Pass Map

Description

Note: This segment begins in the closure area of the 2020 Lionshead Fire. Check the Pacific Crest Trail Association for updates and more information.

This final segment of northbound Section F brings the PCT to the foot of Mount Hood, with many miles of easy walking through a tapestry of evergreen forest. From Olallie Lake, the PCT continues northward through the burn zone of the 2020 Lionshead Fire. The 2021 closure area ends near Triangle Lake (NB mile 2048.7), so the road to Olallie Meadow Campground could be used for PCT access until the closure is lifted. Near Triangle Lake is also where the trail enters the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. It’s important to only walk and camp within the 200-foot-wide trail corridor across the reservation, as venturing off could be considered trespassing.

There’s a small campsite near water at Jude Lake (NB mile 2049.3), and from there, the trail begins a series of meanders along rocky, forested hillsides for several miles. It’s land that is occasionally logged, so the woods become a quilted pattern of groves and clearings, with occasional dirt roads crossings throughout. There are seasonal streams and natural springs in timbered valleys, with Trooper Spring (NB mile 2055) as the most reliable.

Warm Springs River (NB mile 2064.6) is a pretty creek surrounded by lush growth. A log bridge crosses it, and good campsites can be found on either side. There is also a small spring less than half a mile farther north. The patchwork of forest and primitive roads continues for the next several miles, until the trail enters Mount Hood National Forest (NB mile 2072), where the canopy becomes more continuous.

Around the Joe Graham trailhead junction (NB mile 2073.2), streams and springs become plentiful, as do comfortable campsites. This trailhead makes a reasonable endpoint for a section hike, or for leaving/rejoining the trail to get around the Lionshead Fire area. The PCT continues by crossing a paved road, then continuing beside a spring-fed stream and wet meadows to the extensive shore of Timothy Lake (NB mile 2076), where campsites and swim spots tempt a long break from the trail. This area by the lake can get crowded on a summer weekend, as it’s a popular destination near a paved road.

Continuing beyond the lake, the PCT meets a junction for Little Crater Lake (NB mile 2078.8). A brief detour reaches a view into this blue hole of spring water that’s 40 feet deep. There is a campground, trailhead, and drinking water nearby as well. From there, the trail continues through fragrant fir and hemlock forest. A gradual incline leads to water and a campsite at Crater Creek (NB mile 2082.7) then a walk along the rim of a river valley. Gaps in the trees reveal Mount Hood just to the north.

At Highway 26 is one opportunity to enter/exit the trail via Wapinitia Pass trailhead (2086.5). There’s a parking lot, toilet, and garbage at the trailhead, plus a Forest Service campground at nearby Frog Lake. The end of the section is a few miles farther, however, and across a slice of the Mount Hood Wilderness. The trail goes uphill from Highway 26, then along a forested ridge to eventually cross Highway 35 at Barlow Pass (NB mile 2091.7). It’s a busy trailhead and picnic area, where lots of people start day hikes and backpacking trips in the wilderness. The resort town of Government Camp is about 5 miles west.

Permits: Much of this segment is on either Mt. Hood National Forest or Warm Springs Reservation. No permit is required in most areas, but there may be restrictions on where hiking and camping are allowed, especially on reservation land. There is a short stretch within the Mount Hood Wilderness as well, between highways 26 and 35, where a self-issued wilderness permit is required. Note also that a Northwest Forest Pass may be required for parking at trailheads.

Sources: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7049/ https://pctmap.net/trail-notes/ https://pctwater.com/

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area