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Bend, OR: Golden Lake

or

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 8.1 miles


This 16-miler in the heart of Central Oregon's volcanic landscape visits a lake in the shadow of Broken Top's jagged crest and big views of the Three Sisters nearby.
  • Junction Meadow
  • Little Three Creek
  • Sisters Wilderness
  • South Sister
  • Golden Lake

Start at the Little Three Creek Lake trailhead, 16 miles south of Sisters. The first mile travels northwest through dry, scraggly forest to a 4-way junction at the edge of a large meadow. For a pleasant side trip, hike the half-mile route to the left (SW) to Little Three Creek Lake, with views of the Tam McArthur Rim. A light trail circles the lake, and several campsites can be found on the northern shore. After a lakeside snack or light lunch, return to the junction. 

Following signs for Park Meadows, continue northwest through more dry forest, gradually climbing to the top of a ridge; on the other side, look for your first views of the Three Sisters. Start a 2.5 mile descent to a drainage channel and cross, jogging slightly to the right to pick up the trail again, now entering older, lusher forest. You'll eventually begin to turn southwest, crossing several small creeks, and coming to the wide expanse of Park Meadow, 7 miles from your starting point. Several nice campsites can be found along the edges of the meadow, however campfires are restricted within 100' of trail and water. 

Crossing Park Creek, turn left (S) at an unsigned junction, proceeding through the meadow and beginning a moderate climb up forested slope. Keep track of your mileage and position; at approximately 1.1 miles from the meadow trail fork look for two large rock cairns indicating the the unsigned Golden Lake trail. Turn left (S), heading up a small rise before leveling out for the 0.5 mile stretch to the lake; notice the sign banning campfires within 0.25 mile of the lake.

At Golden Lake, turn left to an easy crossing of the outlet and find several sheltered campsites in the trees, or a couple of nice exposed sites near the lakeshore. Settle in and enjoy the view of Broken Top to the southeast, and the Three Sisters to the west. For the next day's return, simply follow the same route back to your starting point.

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

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