My 50-mile Three Sisters Loop Solo

Fifty miles of some of the best back-country scenery Oregon has to offer - and the crappiest weather :)

I had a corporate meeting in Portland, Oregon, so I figured while I was there I might as well get in a hike. I planned a hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness – a loop around three volcanoes aptly named “The Three Sisters.”

Once I finished my meeting, it was about two hours to the trailhead. I got a little bit lost and went to the wrong trailhead, but I finally figured out my way, and about one o’clock in the afternoon I finally got to the trailhead and started out.

Three Sisters Loop Quick Facts

  • Self-issued permit at the trailhead

  • Allow 4-6 days

  • Strenuous

  • ~50 miles

  • Elevation gain/loss 5,800′

  • Highest elevation 7,000′

Day 1

I put in about 12 miles the first day, but it was hot, and the entire 12 miles was decimated by fire. It was a little bit disappointing. I finally got to my camp in the late afternoon, and just as I put my tent up, it started hailing. I couldn’t see the lightning strikes, but the thunder was impressive. Fortunately, it passed in about 90 minutes. Had a good dinner and slept well, despite the worries that a dead tree might fall and kill me in the middle of the night.

Day 2

I got up the next day hoping for better scenery, but it was at least five miles before I found any. Once I got to Green Lake, the scenery was exceptional. I finally felt the boost in my mood seeing some of the beauty that I had come for. Walking through 20 miles of decimated forest had been a little soul-sucking.

The weather was okay, but a little on the warm side. I decided to put in as many miles as I could that day since the forecast called for crappy weather the next day.

By 5pm I had put in over 20 miles and found myself in a hailstorm again. This time the lightning bolts were clearly visible on the mountain. Predictably, all this passed in a few hours and I enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep. I had planned to take six days on this trail, but the bad weather encouraged me to do it in three days.

Day 3

The weather on day three was forecasted to be rain and thunderstorms all day after 9am, so I got up before first light to get in as many miles as I could before things turned miserable. Like clockwork, by 8:30am it rained and hailed, with lots of thunder and lightning the entire 16 miles. It felt good to get off the trail, get a shower and a nice meal and a dry place to sleep before my flight the next day.

Overall, I’m glad I did it. There’s never a bad day when you’re outdoors, as long as you come home alive and uninjured. It wasn’t my favorite trip, and I don’t think I’ll go back to the Three Sisters area. The scenery was beautiful, but it paled in comparison to the High Sierras. I’ve got a big hike coming up in Sequoia at the end of the summer and I am looking forward to better things.

Trail Map

Elevation Profile

Weather Forecasts