Weekend Trip to Central Oregon

We were lucky enough to spend Labor Day weekend in the mountains, just west of Bend in the Deschutes National Forest. My family has been camping there for years, spending at least a week every summer at Lava Lake Campground. Central Oregon is one of my favorite places to visit and I really wanted to introduce Maren to this amazing place. I have also been trying to introduce her to my love of climbing mountains, and the South Sister is a great beginner climb.

Lava Lake near Bend, Oregon

We arrived late Friday night (thanks to Seattle traffic), set up camp, called it an early night and decided to push our climb out to Sunday so we would be well rested which was perfect because we got to spend Saturday doing a little warm up hike with family. 

We headed out to Lucky Lake, an easy, well established trail just a mile West of our campsite. On the way there, we passed the Deschutes River and naturally had to stop for a beer. This proved to be a nice, short day hike and is a great way to experience the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Drinking a Deschutes Beer on the Deschutes River

We got up early Sunday morning, had a good breakfast (thanks to mom) and set out to summit the third tallest mountain in Oregon. We arrived at the trailhead at 8:30 and started our adventure. The route begins with a steep, well defined trail climbing about 1,500 feet to a long plateau above Moraine Lake. You'll walk through beautiful meadows for about a mile but don't get too used to the grade as it won't be long before you are climbing again.

From here the terrain rapidly changes are you climb towards the upper reaches of the mountain. The landscape changes to mostly ash and other volcanic debris. This is when Maren wanted to quit but I convinced her to keep pushing on.

South Sister Summit

Around 9,000 feet you reach a small tarn. This green-colored glacial lake creates a picturesque scene with the surrounding contrasting rocks. From here it's 1,000 feet up loose pumice and ash to the rim of the crater. Then it's only a quick jaunt across the snow-filled crater and you're at the summit at 10,358 feet. Unfortunately it wasn't a clear blue day, but the views were still pretty legit! 

After a quick bite to eat at the summit it was time for the descent. We were back at our campsite by 3:00 and were pleasantly surprised to see my sister Devin who had unexpectedly flew in from Denver! We spent the rest of the weekend playing with her new puppy, Harley who is Bergen's new best friend. We had a campfire, s'mores and went star gazing - the usual. All around a great trip to Central Oregon. Can't wait until we visit again!

The Summit of the South Sister