Hiking in the Clouds

Mileage (Roundtrip): 5 Trail Conditions: Sandy with rocky sections
Hike #: 12 Scenery (1 "Meh" to 10 "Amazing, Wow"): 7
Sullivan Hike #: 54 Difficulty (1 "Easy" to 5 "Difficult"): 3
Hike Name: Tam McArthur Rim Region: The Three Sisters

Driving Directions: Drive to downtown Sisters. Turn left (south) on Elm Street and follow Elm Street and Road 16 for 15.7 miles. The last 1.7 miles of the road before the trailhead sign are gravel. The trailhead sign is on the left and Three Creek Lake is on the right side.

Bring: A camera and geocaching gear if you enjoy geocaching.

Other Things to Know: This trail was closed for a few weeks in August 2017 due to the Milli Wildfire but re-opened in September 2017.

Following a day of drinking beer (at Bend Brewfest) and gorging ourselves with BBQ we visited Three Creek Lake and hiked up to the 1st Lookout on the Tam McArthur Rim with our friends Karin and Jeff. A hike with a moderately difficult climb to a lookout sounded great after a day of indulgence, and despite overcast skies and some smoke from the Milli Fire this was a nice hike.

The hike begins opposite of the Driftwood Campground (near the end of Road 16) and climbs steadily through a forest of lodgepole pines. Almost immediately hikers enjoy views of Three Creek Lake and two of the Sisters (presumably the Middle and North Sister), although our view was blocked by clouds for most of the hike. After .5 miles, the hike steepens for a short stretch and the forest transitions from lodgepole to mountain hemlock. Along the next stretch we stopped a few times to take pictures of penstemon and other wildflowers that were scattered here and there along the side of the trail and spent a few minutes tracking down two geocaches. Due to the cloud cover and smoke columns to the north we missed out on the views of Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams (planning to hike this trail again in 2018 and will update this entry then) but once we reached the rim we did have a nice view of Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor to the southwest.


View of Broken Top

After some trial and error we found the cliff-edge viewpoint described in Sullivan’s book but the views were limited and decided to hike back to a huge snowdrift that we saw from the main trail. Zoe who had been somewhat lethargic during the hike decided the snowdrift was the best thing ever and began digging holes in the ice, rolling in the snow on her back, and sprinting back and forth across the snowdrift. Jeff who is quick with his I-phone managed to film Zoe’s outburst in slow-motion and we all laughed as she continued to show off for the camera. After snapping a few obligatory photos of Broken Top we headed back to the car and were treated to a brief view of the North Sister about 10 minutes before we reached the car.

mountain lakes

View of Three Creek Lake

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