Quick and dirty (photo) guide to three of the most popular backpacking trips in Oregon including the 50-60 mile Sisters loop (depending on your route), forty mile Mount Hood loop, and a choose your own adventure through the Eagle Caps.
The Eagle Caps are the least visited (and most beautiful) mountains in Eastern Oregon, hours away from any big cities. My best friend and I did a wonderful forty mile loop there this summer, and I’m excited to explore more of the hundreds of trails in the year to come! Sleeping at glacier lake and hiking up Eagle Cap were the highlights of our trip.
Kevin and I also did a short trip there last summer, and I’ve gotten gotten to explore a few other trails through trail running!
And, if you are in Eastern Oregon, check out the Elkhorns which have a 23 mile through trail which stays high the whole time.
This loop has a special place in my heart as I completed it for my first time with my best friend when we were sixteen years old, and then again as my first solo backpacking trip years later.
You could also climb up Broken Top from Green Lakes which takes a bit more navigation but gets you equally awesome views (broken phone = lost photos = you will have to climb it to see the views yourself!).
If you don’t have time for 60 miles and would like to experience the central Oregon Cascades in a long day hike (aka awesome trail run) or one night overnight, I would highly suggest the 23 mile broken top loop trail which starts at Tan MacArthur Rim and its georgous views, stops by no name lake (my favorite place in the cascades), passes by green lakes (the most visited lakes in the area), between Broken Top top and South Sister allowing you great views of them both (and a chance to hike up either if you want to add some more miles and elevation gain to your trip), end coming around the less visited backside where a large burn has darastically changed the landscape.
The three sisters wilderness area is becoming increasingly busy as Bend and Portland continue to boom. I would highly suggest exploring this area mid-week after Labor Day when the crowds are greatly reduced.
Mount Hood Loop
Mount Hood is my least favorite of the popular backpacking loops in Oregon due to its unimpressive camping, the busy atmosphere (PCT, day hikers, and other backpackers), and the lack of high altitude lakes or large rivers. That being said I know I’m spoiled and, especially if done when the flowers are in full bloom, I’m sure it could be a lovely trip for those who haven’t yet visited the area.