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Central Oregon Hiking: Canyon Creek Meadows

Three Fingered Jack 2

Distance from Bend: 48 Miles (about 24 miles from Sisters)
Length of Hike: 6.5 to 8 miles
Time: 4 to 6 hours depending on pace, stopping frequently
Elevation Gained: About 1,000 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking for an adventure that offers at a little bit of everything in terms of Central Oregon amazingness, look no further – The Canyon Creek Meadow and viewpoint rim trail truly has it all. This 8-mile round-trip hike takes you through meadows of wildflowers with towering mountain crags as a breathtaking backdrop, walks you along a rim with Cascade Mountain views on one side and a glacial lake on the other and even brings you near waterfalls flowing through a burned out forest.

I brought my friend from San Diego on this hike during her first trip to Oregon because I wanted her to experience the most Central Oregon beauty that one adventure could offer. After our journey our legs were sore and we were exhausted but we were both absolutely blown away by the beauty and couldn’t believe one hike could offer so many sights.

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The trail is about 23 miles northwest of Sisters and starts at Jack Lake off of forest service road 1234. From the parking lot, take the trail to the right of Jack Lake and walk along the partially burned out forest. The B&B Complex fire in 2003 burned nearly 91,000 acres of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and its path of destruction can be seen along the trail of silver snags.

You’ll follow the trail until you come to a sign that reads “Loop Trail One Way” and it’s pointing to the right. Don’t listen to this sign; you want to take the “Unmaintained” trail to the left to get to the meadows and the rim.

There is a little bridge over a creek and you walk along the trail until you come to a big open meadow with Three Fingered Jack towering in the near background. If you hit the trail at the right time of the year the wildflowers could be as tall as you (I’ve never seen them myself but this is what I’ve heard, this year the wildflower peak was early-August). From the meadows we continued along the trail up to the glacial lake and all the way to the rim which overlooks the Tree Sisters, Mt. Washington, Broken Top and Bachelor to one side and Mt. Jefferson on the other. To get to the rim from the glacial lake you’ll take the trail to the left which follows a rocky crest with loose rocks. This part of the hike is probably the most difficult but definitely manageable without technical equipment.

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After you get to the viewpoint from the rim there are a number of paths that wander through a viewpoint area that overlooks the meadows below, Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack. If you’re not in a hurry I would definitely recommend stopping to enjoy all of the views from the top!

This hike took us 6 hours, which included a lot of stopping for pictures and snacking on power bars, but make sure to plan your journey accordingly. Bring lots of water, snacks, and extra clothes since it gets chilly at the top along the rim.
After you’re done admiring the jaw dropping views at the top, it’s time to make your way back down. This part is difficult on the loose rocks. If you have hiking sticks I would recommend using them!

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You’ll walk back down along the same trail until you get to the “Loop Trail One Way” sign and this time you’ll go the other direction from where you came. This takes you along Canyon Creek and offers beautiful views of Mt. Jefferson through the trees of the burned out forest. Along the path listen for waterfalls, there are a few to the left of the trial.

When you end up back at Jack Lake that’s how you know your hike is almost over! Make sure to take lots of pictures and enjoy the sights along the way because there are a ton of beautiful things to see!

Whitney Whitehouse
Whitney Whitehouse
Whitney Whitehouse works in Marketing at Sunriver Resort where she manages their social media and coordinates all marketing initiatives for the resort. When Whitney is not at work, you can almost always find her outside and exploring beautiful Central Oregon. She brings her camera on every adventure and has a passion for photographing the natural world around her. She hopes that her photography will inspire others to get outside and enjoy the breathtaking world that we live in. After graduating high school, Whitney left Oregon to attend Chapman University in Orange County California. She loved the beach, but the adventures of the High Desert were calling her back to where she grew up –she moved back to Bend in April and couldn't be more excited to explore every corner this amazing place!