Olallie Scenic Area

Mount Jefferson looms over a tarn deep in the Olallie backcountry.

The first tier of Breitenbush Cascades, a multi-tiered waterfall on the North Fork of the North Fork of the Breitenbush River.

Horseshoe Lake’s small campground. To get here you have to drive a terrible stretch of the Skyline Road, or backpack from Olallie or Monon Lakes.

Olallie Lake after sunset, July 2015.

51. Sisi Butte

52. Russ and Jude Lakes

53. Lodgepole Loop

54. Olallie Butte

55. Fish Lake

56. Olallie and Monon Lakes

57. Double Peaks and Timber Lake

58. Olallie-Ruddy Hill Loop

59. Red Lake and Potato Butte

60. Breitenbush Cascades

61. Ruddy Hill-Gibson Lake Loop

62. Pyramid Butte

63. Park Ridge and Jefferson Park

The Olallie Scenic Area is unique, a large and mostly flat area that straddles both sides of the Cascades. Hundreds of lakes dot this scenic plateau, allowing outdoor lovers countless opportunities for exploration. The trails are mostly level and well-maintained, allowing for many easy hikes. There are also several exceedingly steep spur trails leading to outstanding viewpoints, and each and every one of these are different enough that all are worth hiking.

Olallie Lake is a long drive from Portland and an equally long drive from Salem. The best plan of action to visit is to drive into the area and set up camp for a few days - or better yet, plan a stay at the rustic Olallie Lake Resort. Many of the hikes are accessible just by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail north or south through the area. Getting to Olallie Lake can be a challenge; while the Skyline Road receives annual maintenance up to Olallie Lake, winters are cruel up here and the road is frequently rutted and rocky. The Skyline Road gets progressively worse as you drive south towards Monon and Horseshoe Lakes; by the time you reach Breitenbush Lake it’s a full-scale nightmare. Driving this southern stretch of the Skyline Road from Monon Lake to FR 46 requires high clearance and lots of patience.

The best time to visit this area is in August and September, when the mosquitoes are gone, as are the crowds, and the huckleberries are profuse. Later in the fall, after the berries are gone, huckleberry leaves burn red in a fantastic display of color that spreads across the area from high to low. Winters here are long and cruel, so plan ahead to visit this area - its remoteness ensures that it is all but inaccessible from November to June.

Finally, please note that many of the hikes in this region pass through sections of the Warm Springs Reservation. The Warm Springs can close a trail at any point for any reason they like. If you are on a trail and see that it is closed, please respect the wishes of the Warm Springs and turn around.