Canyon Creek Meadows Hike


This magnificent 5.5 loop trail Canyon Creek Meadows Hike is located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness of the Deschutes National Forest in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. It has spectacular views of  Three Fingered Jacks craggy spires, Black Butte mountain, North Sisters, Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson as well as stunning wildflower meadows in June. The trail goes through beautiful forests, meadows and along bubbling creeks.

Black Butte

Black Butte

North Sisters and Mt. Washington

North Sisters and Mt. Washington from FR 1230

Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington

Broken Top and North Sisters

Broken Top and North Sisters

This hike takes you through the wilderness that had a fire in 2003. It is fascinating to see the forest regenerate after such a short time.  The meadows were spared in that fire, and the views through the burned skeleton trees are better than when you were hiking in the unburned part of the trail.

mountain hemlock seedlings

Mountain Hemlock Seedlings

You’ll hike past silver snags at the start and end of this hike, but you’ll notice that millions of mountain hemlock seedlings have sprouted naturally after the fire. Beargrass, huckleberries, and many other plants that rely on fire are thriving as well.

We hiked this trail in mid-May so did not see as many wildflowers as you will see four weeks later, but it was still a delightful hike. We dodged a bit of rain and hail, but most of the day was cloudy with sun.

Broncho Billy's

Breakfast at Broncho Billy’s in Sisters

We started out with a breakfast at Bronco Billy’s in Sisters early on Mother’s Day. It was a bit busy so we were there longer than we wanted to be, but Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for any restaurant.

Canyon Creek Meadows hike is advertised as an easy hike with 400 feet of elevation gain to the lower meadow, but there are areas where it is steep and other areas with rocks, fallen snags and tree roots in the path.

We were not able to continue to the more difficult 7.5-mile loop with 1400 feet of elevation gain to the upper meadow’s viewpoint because of the snow pack. Most years the upper meadow is not clear until August.

Getting There


To get there from Sisters, OR go west on US 20 for 12 miles to near milepost 88 where you will see a “Wilderness Trailheads” sign pointing right to Jack Lake Road (FR12). Go north on Jack Lake Road for 4.4 miles to the junction with FR 1230, and then turn left on the one-lane FR 1230 for 1.6 miles to the end of the pavement.  At the junction, turn left onto Road 1234. The road becomes gravel here and can be rutted and washboard.

FR 1230

FR 1230

Continue on FR 1234 climbing 6 miles to the trailhead at the primitive Jack Lake campground.

Canyon Creek Meadows Trail

Click to see larger map.

Start hiking on the trail to the right. The trail is smooth and goes past Jack Lake at the beginning.

Canyon Creek Meadows Trailhead at Jack Lake

Canyon Creek Meadows Trailhead at Jack Lake

Canyon Creek Meadows Trailhead at Jack Lake

Canyon Creek Meadows Trailhead at Jack Lake

Jack Lake

Jack Lake

Jack Lake

Jack Lake

trail

Trail through new forest

Mountain Hemlock Seedlings

Trail through burned area with new Mountain Hemlock Seedlings

Climb to the first ridge

Climb to the first ridge

The path climbs 0.3 mile to a well-marked fork at the Wilderness boundary that is the start of the loop.

Beginning of the loop trail.

Beginning of the loop trail.

To limit the number of people you meet, the Forest Service asks that you hike the loop clockwise. So turn left at this junction. Go left climbing gradually amid thru snags, rocks and skeletal trees, and then descend through unburned woods to the lower meadow.

Canyon Creek Meadows Trail

Still climbing

Canyon Creek Meadows Trail

Descending to the lower meadow.

Unburned forest

Unburned forest with lots of lichen

Unburned forest

Steeper part into the lower meadows

Three Fingered Jack

Getting to the lower meadows with first good view of Three Fingered Jack

trail to upper meadows

Turn to trail to upper meadows

At 1.7 miles, you come to the lower meadow and the trail divides. To the left is the trail to the high meadows. This is not a well-maintained trail and as mentioned is usually not available for hiking until August because of snow.

trail to upper meadows

Trail to upper meadows. We didn’t go much further than this.

Lower meadow and Three Fingered Jack

Lower meadow and Three Fingered Jack

The view of 7,841-foot Three Fingered Jack is stunning and the creek running through the meadow adds to the beauty.At the end of July, there is a show of wildflowers including lupine, red-Paintbrush and multiple other blooms. Stay on the main trail to preserve these delicate meadows and picnic or camp only under the trees.

Lower meadow and junction of trail back to trailhead.

Lower meadow and junction of trail back to trailhead.

To the right is the trail back to the trailhead. This part of the trail follows Canyon Creek and then through a marsh.

Beginning of trail back to trailhead.

Beginning of trail back to trailhead.

Canyon Creek

Canyon Creek

We had a problem following this trail at 0.1 miles because of a fallen tree blocking the trail and a patch of snow.

multiple downed trees across the trail

Climbing over multiple downed trees across the trail

 multiple downed trees across the trail

Multiple downed trees across the trail

Once we found the trail, it was easy to follow but had multiple downed trees across the trail and one area where we had to climb over a big snag.

meadow

Meadow – too early for most flowers.

Found a few flowers

Found a few flowers

The trail passes through beautiful alpine scenery with stunning views of Mt. Jefferson and Black Butte.

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson

Go 0.9 miles along the creek to the junction with the trail to Wasco Lake. Take the right trail and go 1.5 miles back to Jack Lake. Watch for the waterfalls on the left just past the turn.

Rain coming our way

Rain coming our way

Jack Lake

Back at Jack Lake just as the rain started. Three Fingered Jack in background.

Hail storm

Hail storm on our way back out.

Note: The mosquitoes were thick and have been noted to continue being a problem even into the beginning of August, so be prepared.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Canyon Creek Meadows Hike

  1. Imkelina May 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

    That looks like it was a fascinating hike…and you gave us some great descriptions of the trail.
    Love that Three-fingered Jack!

  2. Melinda Stanfield May 16, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    It was a great hike. We hope to do it again a bit later in the season when the flowers are blooming.

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