Broken Top Loop

A stunning backcountry trail running loop.

Trail Running Difficult

Distance
36 km
Ascent
1.2 km
Descent
1.2 km
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
1.8 km
High Point
2.5 km
Gradient
Broken Top Loop Map

For a full-day run deep in the wilderness, consider this 22-mile loop around the visually-stunning Broken Top mountain.

Description

While most people consider this route as a 3-day backpacking itinerary, many a competent trail runner can check off this loop in less than a day, and still have time to tag the top of the mountain and grab a beer at a pub afterward. If you’re in that category, read on.

On this run, you’ll enjoy incredible high alpine scenery from the flanks of Broken Top, including the formidable crater of the mountain, gorgeous alpine lakes, lava flows and scree fields, wildflower-choked meadows, and so much more! The run begins on the shores of Three Creek Lake, passes the Green Lakes along the way, and enjoys stunning views of Bend Glacier Lake. From Bend Glacier Lake, you could even scramble the ridgeline to reach the summit of Broken Top if you’re feeling especially fresh and froggy.

While the Three Creek Lake trailhead is a logical starting point, reaching it requires many miles of gravel road driving. If you want to minimize the driving, you could access the loop from the Green Lakes Trail and the Cascade Lakes Highway, or other trails in the area. While running this as a lollipop from the Green Lakes Trail looks logical on a map, that choice turns this run into a 31-mile effort. Only attempt this ultra-distance route if you’re accustomed to big, self-supported days in the backcountry.

Difficulty

Difficult

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area