South Sister Climber Trail No 36

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Distance5.9mi
Elevation Gain5,796ft
Trailhead Elevation5,452ft
Top10,347ft
Elevation Min/Max5452/10347ft
Elevation Start/End5452/5452ft

South Sister Climber Trail No 36

South Sister Climber Trail No. 36 is a hiking trail in Deschutes County and Lane County, Oregon. It is within Deschutes National Forest and Three Sisters Wilderness Area. It is 5.9 miles long and begins at 5,452 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 12.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,796 feet. Near the trailhead there is a camp site. Along the trail there are springs and a water. The trail ends near South Sister (elevation 10,318 feet). This trail connects with the following: Moraine Lake Trail No. 17.1.

South Sister Climber Trail No. 36 Professional Reviews and Guides

"A long, round-trip day hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness. A backpack trip using Moraine Lake as a base camp is also a popular choice. Unlike several other routes that lead to the summit, the route from Moraine Lake is not a technical climb, just a long steep hike up the mountain.

Hikers attempting this climb should remember that this is a 10,000-foot mountain, subject to quick and sometimes violent weather changes, so pack accordingly. (Note: The climb is not technical in summer. If there is snow, bring ice axe and crampons and know how to use them.) You’ll see much of Oregon from the summit, including the other Sisters, North (10,094 feet) and Middle (10,053 feet). Once called Faith, Hope, and Charity by pioneer missionaries, these three lofty peaks dominate the 280,500-acre preserve and the surrounding region. Special attractions: Outstanding views from atop Oregon’s third highest peak."

"This is a hike of a lifetime—long, tough, and with high alpine scenery and spectacular summit views. The trek up 10,358-foot South Sister, the crown jewel of the Three Sisters Wilderness, is well worth the hard work. The trail starts out by heading through the high, open Wickiup Plain on the way to Lewis Glacier and, finally, the summit crater.

At the peak you’ll find gorgeous views of Middle and North Sister to the north and Green Lakes, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top to the southeast. The weather on South Sister is notoriously erratic, so be prepared for anything. If the skies look threatening, don’t attempt to reach the summit. Keep in mind that you may find snow on the summit as late as mid-July. If you climb the peak before the snow melts, you’ll need waterproof mountaineering boots and an ice ax."

"Few visitors to central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness can forget their first view of South Sister. Majestically rising 10,358 feet above the surrounding forest, South Sister is a fine example of a high Cascade volcano; it is younger than its volcanic siblings, and it is still active. In recent years geologists began tracking earthquakes and other activity on the peak’s west side. South Sister is a worthwhile endeavor for scramblers in spite of its popularity in peak season. There is a little bit of everything along this route as you make the abrupt transition from dense forest to open plain, to a steep scramble up red cinders alongside broken and dramatic lava flows.

The upper mountain is particularly scenic with the Lewis Glacier receding to the west to reveal its shattered blue ice. The summit crater is huge and contains Oregon’s highest pool of water. Views are unsurpassed in central Oregon. Special considerations: In early season you may need crampons and ice ax. Some areas in the Three Sisters Wilderness may be closed for restoration; please respect all closures. The South Climb Trail is periodically rerouted to control erosion. Call ahead for current trail information."

"If you’re able-bodied enough to do so, it’s my opinion that you must, at least once, climb South Sister. Many writers leave this route out of hiking guidebooks, or include it with caveats asserting that the views are just as good from lower vantage points. While there’s some truth in that, don’t let it deter you."

"Here’s a test of your quadriceps. This potentially grueling climb up the southernmost peak in the Three Sisters Wilderness is a great springtime snowshoe outing. From the summit of South Sister you’ve got the astounding reach of the Three Sisters Wilderness before you, as well as views north almost to Mount Hood, and south almost to Mount Shasta.

The summit of South Sister is host to a dramatic teardrop lake that forms out of a depression filled with ice for much of the year. The climb up the peak leads you past yawning glaciers and dramatic fields of cooled lava. You’re likely to see other mountaineering enthusiasts here, some with skis or snowboards, but don’t feel like you need special equipment to climb this mountain."

South Sister Climber Trail No. 36 Reviews

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7/11/2018
This trail is doable in a day, but it will totally challenge you. It is much sweeter to do it in two days. It is an absolutely gorgeous hike with astounding views of the Cascades. If you camp at Moraine Lake the summit hike is shorter. Essentials for the trail (besides water and food) are sunscreen, bug repellent, and trek poles. I'm not kidding. It gets semi-technical.
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8/29/2009
If it wasnt for the crowds then this trip would get five stars. Start early so to avoid them. Awesome regardless, sweet views, fun hiking. Dont be like me, and remember your trekking poles!
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8/21/2008
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2/18/2008
Great trail the view from summit is amazing. We took 2 days to do it, but could be done in one. I loved it, it was my first backpacking and summit hike. Would love to go back!!
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7/29/2007
This was an awesome trip. We stayed over night at Moraine Lake and made the ascent early the next morning. We weren't expecting such a strenuous hike to the top but the views were well worth the crawl up. Bring plenty of water; we ran low on the way back down, and wished we had brought our water filter to fill up from the glacier at the summit. We spent that night at Moraine as well, it was very nice not having to make our way all the way back down in the same day. Just a tip, try to find a camping spot higher on the hillside in order to avoid the mosquitos and gnats. There are several fresh water pools coming up from the ground just north of the lake, however, we still filtered all water before drinking.
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South Sister Climber Trail No. 36 Photos

Trail Information

Deschutes National Forest
Nearby City
Deschutes National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Deschutes National Forest, Bend–Fort Rock Ranger District
Local Contacts
Green Trails Three Sisters No. 621
Local Maps