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sitting on the summit of south sister

Lately, I have posted a number of pictures of the mountains that dominate north central Oregon. I have often mentioned the Three Sisters in the Three Sisters Wilderness area.

Several times I have hiked around them, or I have hiked into the lakes that rest at their bases, such as the Green Lakes and Sisters Mirror Lake.

What has not been mentioned is the hike (climb) to the top of South Sister. To climb North Sister is difficult and requires mountain climbing experience. Middle Sister is less difficult but requires careful planning. South Sister is a hike rather than a climb; one hikes a trail to the top.

I have hiked to the summit of South Sisters on two different occasions. The second time, I spent the night, enduring winds and freezing temperatures.

South Sister is the third highest peak in Oregon at 10358 ft (3157 m), but it requires little climbing experience. It is rated at worst a class 3. No gear is needed except for good shoes and lots of determination.

On top of South Sister

Here we have the view from the summit of South Sister looking toward Mount Bachelor. On the ridge to the right of the small lake is the trail to the top. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

On top of South Sister

The two peaks to the left here are Middle Sister and North Sister. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

How does one hike to the top of South Sister? Generally, one of two ways. The distance is about 12 miles round trip, and the elevation gain is approximately 5,000 feet from the Cascade Lakes Highway. Those two figures will determine how you will proceed.

Some hikers want to do the climb in one day. They will arrive early in the morning and start the climb from Devils Lake on the Cascade Lakes Highway. It is the most direct route; however one must be in good shape because the initial part of the hike has a significant elevation gain.

The second option involves an over night stay at the base of South Sister and a climb during the next morning, a descent later in the day, and an exit from the back country that same day to end the trip. (24-08-2015)


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chrissy #

    How long is the hike to the top of the South Sister? It looks pretty intense.

    • An excellent question. I will amend my original post and write about the different ways of reaching the top.


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