Our Favorite Hikes in Sisters, Oregon

At the base of the mighty Cascade Range lies a little Western town that stands as the gateway to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Sisters, Oregon, is known for two things: keeping the spirit of the American West alive in its culture and traditions, and being surrounded by tons of hiking trails that provide nearly limitless opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Here are five hikes to help get you started.

Whychus Creek Trail

The Whychus Creek Trail leads hikers to a scenic overlook with views of North, Middle and South Sister, nicknamed Faith Hope & Charity. Hikers have two options to reach the top: take the out-and-back south trail for an easy 1-mile hike, or turn it into a 3-mile loop by taking the north trail up and the south trail back down. Enjoy the views of the meandering river and cool off under the shade of towering ponderosa pines as well as Douglas and white firs. From Sisters, follow Elm Street as it becomes Three Creek Road (or Forest Road 16) for 5 miles, and the trailhead will be on your right.

ridge trail on Black Butte

Black Butte Hiking Trail

North of Sisters on U.S. Highway 20, visitors can discover Black Butte, an extinct volcano that provides expansive views of the mountains in Central Oregon. This trail is open year round to hikers, and great for snowshoers, when the snow falls. The 2-mile hike to the summit is considered moderate in difficulty, as hikers climb around 1,500 vertical feet along the side of the volcano. On a clear day, hikers can see mountain peaks like the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Jefferson, Hood and even St. Helens. This hike’s trailhead is located near the popular resort destination, Black Butte Ranch, which offers recreational activities like golf, horseback riding and more.

Moraine Lake Trail

Popular for both day hiking and backpacking, the Moraine Lake Trail leads hikers deep within the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. About five miles out-and-back, the trail is rated as moderate and takes hikers up and down nearly 1,500 vertical feet. Not only will the trail go along Moraine Lake, which is great for swimming when the weather is warm enough, the trail will also lead hikers to an overlook with clear views of South Sister and Broken Top. Whether you’re looking for a summer dip into some cool waters, or an enchanted hike through a snowy forest, this trail will not disappoint. We recommend going sometime between March and November. The trailhead is accessible near Devils Lake, which will take about an hour’s drive from Sisters when going through Bend down the Cascade Lakes Highway. A Central Cascades Wilderness Permit is required to park at the trailhead year round.

Hiking together PC: Dylan Van Weelden
Sisters Wilderness area

South Sister Trail

Recommended for more advanced hikers and backpackers, the trail leading up South Sister is nearly 12 miles long but well worth the effort. This beautiful hike leads hikers all the way to the summit where they are granted 360 degree views of the Cascade Range, the Three Sisters Wilderness and the Deschutes National Forest. Also about an hour from Sisters, hikers will want to start at the Devils Lake trailhead. Near the summit, hikers get to check out Teardrop Pool, which is officially the state of Oregon’s highest elevation lake. This hike begins in a wooded area that slowly thins out as hikers near the summit, which feels much more like a barren mountain peak. Like the Moraine Lake Trail, this hike is also accessed through the Cascade Lakes Highway, meaning visitors from Sisters will want to drive about an hour, passing through Bend, to access the trail. A Central Cascades Wilderness Permit is required to park at the trailhead year round.

Matthieu Lakes Trail

A great and well-rounded option, the Matthieu Lakes Trail is a 5-mile loop that packs a lot of terrain in a short distance. Hikers will be overjoyed to see black lava flow, tall green pines, snowy mountain peaks and pristine blue water at both North and South Matthieu Lakes. From August to September, be on the lookout for huckleberry bushes. At the north lake, feel free to take a dip in the waters when the temperature outside is hot enough. At the higher elevations of the south lake, be on the lookout for other mountain peaks like North and Middle Sister. We recommend going from May until November to avoid any hazardous winter conditions like excessive snow and ice. From Sisters, the trailhead is about 30 minutes down Highway 242.

Don’t forget to round out your Central Oregon vacation with some other activities, from hiking and kayaking to brewery hopping, skiing, shopping and so much more. When you make it back to Sisters and need to refuel after a day of hiking, be sure to try out some of the best restaurants in Sisters.

While you’re out enjoying the many mountains, rivers and forests that Sisters offers, be sure to take care of the land you’re on, so that future generations can enjoy it just as much as you do. Do your best to leave no trace by remaining on designated trails, keeping dogs on leashes where it is required and leaving some space in your bag for any trash that might accumulate. If we all do our part and leave no trace, we can ensure that these natural areas remain beautiful and accessible for years to come.

a man and his dog walking down the trail with a mountain peak behind

Things to Know

It’s important to be prepared before heading out for a hike and leave no trace when you leave. Here are seven tips to leave no trace and help you have an awesome day on the trail.

    • Know before you go. Check weather conditions and any trail closures, pack appropriate attire, and have a backup destination in case parking lots are full.

    • Camp responsibly. Make reservations beforehand, only camp in designated sites, allow for plenty of daylight to set up camp, check for fire restrictions.

    • Pack it out. Anything you bring in with you must be brought back out; including all trash, food waste, and dog poop bags.

    • Leave it as you find it. Leave any plants, rocks, or flowers behind; avoid cutting any branches for campfires, and stick to marked trails.

    • Be fire informed. Check for fire restrictions, build campfires 100ft away from water sources, ensure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the site.

    • Keep wildlife wild. Observe wildlife from a distance, do not feed any animals, keep personal pets on leashes when around wildlife.

    • Stick to the trail & respect other users. Only use designated trails, respect all trail signs and closures, follow leash regulations, and be friendly and considerate to others on the trail.

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