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The Three Sisters Wilderness Area
Collier Cone Hike
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Length: 15.4 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 2600' elevation gain (cumulative)
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Difficult
NW Forest Pass Required

Features: This is one of the most outstanding day hikes you could hope for along a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

The hike could begin at McKenzie Pass, but I chose to begin at a well marked trailhead located just off highway 242. It is only a short walk west and you come to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Bear left (south) and you are on your way.

Depending on the season in which you take the hike, the floral displays can be magnificent. The last two weeks in July are usually the best time for flowers and minimal snow cover.

The trial climbs gently along the eastern edge of a large lava flow. At about a mile and a half, the PCT continues on to the left, but bear right and follow this alternate trail to the Matthieu Lakes.

Just before you reach the first lake, the trail climbs steeply through a few switchbacks then brings you down to North Matthieu Lake. This is a fine lake and if weather permits, you might enjoy a swim.

The trail follows along the eastern flank of the lake and then climbs away as it heads for the next lake. At about 0.7 miles you will come to the PCT (again), and this time you want to follow it.

Shortly you come to South Matthieu Lake. Now, this is my favorite because of the extraordinary views of the Cascade Mountains, especially North Sister.

The trail also skirts the lake on the east side, then climbs to a junction to Trail #4068. Bear right and continue on the PCT towards Yapoah Crater.

Now the trail must cross the large lava flow that you have been skirting the entire hike thus far. This is an interesting challenge, but done well, and plenty of scenery to keep you busy. So, watch you step, the lava is sharp.

The trail levels off for a bit just before working its way around the north side of Yapoah Crater. The trail does climb a bit along this part, and you get excellent views to the north of Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood. Looming up in front of you to the south are the North and Middle Sister.

After passing over the shoulder of Yapoah Crater, the trail drops into a large meadow. In late July this is usually overflowing with floral displays. The trail will cross a creek at the south end of the meadow then begins to climb.

Soon you come to Minnie Scott Springs. Here you can refresh yourself and your water supply. To be safe, use a filter. Now you are almost to your goal.

The scenery really gets exciting at this point. It seems like you are in a pre-historic/Jurassic environment. You might expect a dinosaur to come around the bend at any moment. But instead, there in front of you is Collier Cone.

There appears to be a number of ways to climb this cinder cone, but I chose what appeared to be the expected route. Keep on the PCT over Opie Dilldock Pass and as the trail descends just a bit, you will see the Collier Cone trail bearing off to the left (east).

Again, you can climb this cone clockwise, or counter-clockwise. There is no special best way. The trail takes you around the top edge of Collier Cone, so you end up where you began, either way.

I can't imagine anyone not loving this hike. Although, if the wind is very strong, well, that could dampen your appreciation.... ENJOY!

Small tarn just north of Collier Cone
Small tarn just north of Collier Cone

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