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Trip Report: Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area

Trip Report: Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area

Trip Report: Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area

Mt. Jefferson's snowy peak juts up above the trees across the lake from our camp site.
An osprey circles around and then plunges into the round, blue lake, sending out ripples across the surface.
Nestled up against the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness at the southern end of Mt. Hood National Forest, the Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area is a remote, often overlooked, slice of sub-alpine heaven.  Dozens of lakes fill glacier-scoured basins on top of a broad, rolling plateau.  Volcanic cinder cones offer panoramic views of the lakes, forested hills, and glaciated peaks of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and other Cascade Mountain summits.

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure
Evidence of recent wildfire was to been seen with stands of standing snags lining the east side of Olallie Lake and ribbons of dead trees snaking toward the other lakes.
Smoke billowed behind Mt. Jefferson from fires still raging to the south.
Olallie Lakes Next Adventure mt jefferson smoke
Thru-hikers were seen walking the road leading to Olallie Lake.  Fire closures had dictated a re-route of the Pacific Crest Trail north of the area, where contained fires still smoldered.
The PCT was open through the Scenic Area, however.  Thru-hikers rested and re-stocked at the small resort store.  The store's trail register showed that the thru-hikers were coming through in greater numbers. (A good part of the pack should be hitting the Columbia River for the Cascade Locks PCT Days event September 5-7.)

The Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area has a network of trails connecting to the backbone of the PCT, so any number of loops are possible.  Stay on the gently rolling hills of the main plateau past lake after lake, or churn up a cinder cone volcano for spectacular views of the Central Cascades.
Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Mt Hood view
We climbed the Double Peaks Trail to the summit and took in the views.  Mt. Jefferson looked close enough to touch in a big blue sky, but as the day went on, more smoke started to creep in and haze up the view.

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack campsite in woods
Being remote, there aren't as many visitors to the forest as in the more accessible areas.  Wildlife seems a little more wild there.  We got regular visits from gray jays, juncos, ravens, and we got to watch an osprey fish on several occasions.  A young duck cruised the shoreline for awhile by our camp.

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack grey jay  Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack osprey  Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack duck on water

There were the usual assortment of chipmunks and ground squirrels scampering about.  We even saw a few garter snakes out sunning themselves lakeside.

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack vole     Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack ground squirrel

The huckleberries were just starting to ripen.  We were able to stain our fingers purple just by grabbing what was in reach of the trail.  Huckleberries are always a tasty treat.  Some beargrass was still blooming (though most had gone to seed). Meadow parsely, Angelica, Partridge Foot and Spirea were some of the other flowers to be seen.  Aster-daisies were blooming, too.

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack aster flower  Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack partridge foot flower  Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack spirea flower

The thru-hiker registeries at the Olallie Lake Resort reported lots of snow crossing Mt. Jefferson until just a few weeks ago.  Now the snow is mostly gone.
The higher elevation trails have melted out. Now is the time to get out there and enjoy our Northwest natural wonders!

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure Backpack sub alpine trails

Next Adventure Outdoor School can take you there and guide you around the Olallie Lakes National Scenic Area:

- Head out on a Day Hike with us September 1, or,
- Backpack with us August 25-27, or September 10-14, 2014.
- Schedule your own private custom backpack tour or day hike!
Find out more at nextadventure.net/outdoor-school!

Want to learn more about hiking and camping in the Cascade Mountains?
We've got free clinics, presentations and events coming up that can help prepare you for your next mountain adventure!

- Backpacking at Elevation Clinic - Tuesday, August 12.
- Thru-hiking the Chinook Trail Presentation - Thursday,  August 28.
- Lightweight Backpacking Clinic - Tuesday, September 9.

And don't miss PCT Days in Cascade Locks, September 5-7.
Free admission, free camping, and lots of thru-hiker trail magic!

Olallie Lakes Next Adventure backpack olallie butte lake view

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