Broken Top

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Elevation Gain353ft
Trailhead Elevation6,917ft
Elevation Min/Max6917/7176ft
Elevation Start/End6917/6917ft

Broken Top

Broken Top is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Deschutes County, Oregon. It is within Deschutes National Forest. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 6,917 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 353 feet.

Broken Top Professional Reviews and Guides

"Broken Top is a craggy volcanic remnant that hosts two glaciers situated at the eastern border of the Three Sisters Wilderness, directly north of Mount Bachelor. Broken Top has had a violent eruptive history, including a massive hot avalanche that devastated an estimated 200-square-mile area, including what are now suburbs of Bend. The mountain was significantly higher at one time, but the combination of being blown up and worn down by glaciation took a lot off the top.

Interestingly, climbers can see the former interior of the volcano, including its stratification, which has been revealed by erosion. The routes all involve rock of varying degrees of difficulty, inconsistency and instability. Rockfall is a real danger on all Broken Top routes, and helmets should be considered mandatory. Like North Sister, no route on Broken Top is really recommended. If all you want to do is summit, take the Northwest Ridge route. The Northwest Ridge is the fastest and safest descent for all routes on Broken Top. Some glacier travel is required for all routes except the Northwest Ridge."

"A less-used trail that provides a day hike or overnight backpack along the slopes of Broken Top Mountain in the Three Sisters Wilderness. This hike remains near timberline with excellent views. Permit: Required for day and overnight hikes; self issue at trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike as an overnight, you may wish to
consider camping at one of the many campsites along the trail, rather than at Green Lakes. The lakes area is heavily used; the Forest Service restricts camping to designated sites, and campfires are not allowed. Pick up a map of the restricted area at the trailhead. The trail starts out on an old road, then branches left when just out of sight of the trailhead. It then works its way down a gentle slope through a pleasant, open forest of timberline trees, such as subalpine fir."

"It’s a long but utterly beautiful haul into the crater area of Broken Top, and it’s worth every step. Oregon’s mountains are formed almost exclusively by volcanic action, and getting a close look at Broken Top reveals just how severe that action was. This hike gives you a close-up view of the crater of the blasted-out mountain. The closer you get to the gaping maw of Broken Top, the more impressive it gets. It only gets bigger, and you only feel smaller, when you stand in front of this example of volatile volcanism.

The craggy skyline of the summit of Broken Top is unmistakable from any perspective, especially when it’s surrounded by the more composed summits of The Three Sisters. The crater’s interior is filled with glaciers that hang precariously from the vertical interior walls. By the time you get to Broken Top, you’ll be well past timberline, and the dense forests of the central Cascades give way to the wide-open spaces of the Three Sisters alpine country."

"The Cascades range is filled with iconic peaks, from Mount Hood to the north to Mount Thielsen to the south. In between, the Three Sisters, Mount Bachelor, and craggy Broken Top are the stars. It’s Broken Top that many Central Oregonians call their favorite.

And for good reason: Broken Top’s ruggedly handsome peak, the accessible high alpine basins ?lled with streams and wild?owers, and the outstanding views of the surrounding area make it a must for outdoor lovers. A 12-mile loop provides a wondrous variety of scenery for trail runners who are willing to put in a few extra miles and feet of elevation."

"Broken Top is a highly dissected composite volcano and an older member of the Three Sisters group. The scramble to the viewpoint near the summit will give you a keen view of the exposed insides of a Cascade volcano. Glacial ice and erosion have carved away three sides of Broken Top, leaving a colorful remnant with crumbly basaltic lava and impressive rocky ridges.

There are two major glaciers atop Broken Top; you will look down on the Bend Glacier as you make your final ascent. The scramble up the southwest ridge is athletic and will require balance and agility to avoid dislodging the loose talus while ascending. Special considerations: In early season you may need crampons and ice ax."

"Sitting between Mount Bachelor and South Sister, Broken Top can be overlooked. Not quite “mountain-like” enough to stand out, its spiny form can just blend in with the Three Sisters. But Broken Top is all its own. The peak’s unique history, colorful composition, jagged ridge, spectacular views, and hidden gems really shine on this hike."

Broken Top Reviews

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We did this trail over the course of three relaxing days: hiked in to Green Lakes on Day 1, climbed Broken Top on Day 2, and hiked out on Day 3. The trailhead for Broken Top is tricky to find from the Green Lakes trail, as it's unmarked and looks like it could just lead to a campsite. But stick with it and it will lead you through a gorgeous alpine meadow and small glaciers that are barely surviving the summer heat. About a mile in you climb the side of a ridge and begin the real work to the summit - scrambling the entire way. Gaining the summit without ropes is a little nerve-wracking, but just take your time and breath steadily - the view is worth it! We approached the summit from the north side of the summit block; some folks we met said a rope is pretty much a necessity for the south approach.

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Trail Information

Deschutes National Forest
Nearby City
Deschutes National Forest
Deschutes National Forest, Bend–Fort Rock Ranger District
Local Contacts
Green Trails No. 622 Broken Top, No. 621 Three Sisters
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018