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Willamette National Forest
Park Ridge Hike
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Length: 8 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1510' elevation gain
Season: Late Summer thru Early Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
NW Forest Pass Required
GPS:   N44 45.912, W121 47.184
Latitude:   44.7652
Longitude:   -121.7864

Features: Here is a hike worth placing on your must do list. If it is only an incredible view of Mt Jefferson you want, then this hike is the best. If you would like a unique way to reach Jefferson Park, then this hike is outstanding.

The road leading to the trailhead of this hike leave alot to be desired. It is not the worst trailhead road in the Mt Hood National Forest, but it is pretty close to deserving honorable mention. Take it slow and easy, and the reward of the hike is overwhelmingly worth it.

Snow. Yup, snow. Even in mid August. Sooo, I'd suggest you don't even try until after the first of August and the middle is better. Wait too much longer and you'll miss all the flowers, and the ever present mosquitos.... you don't want to miss them. Actually, in mid August they aren't bad. Usually you will encounter snow above the 6500' level in August. The last half mile might be entirely on snow, but it is not dangerous and it is not hard to follow the trail because of all the good folks that have gone the way before you.

The hike never really gets very steep, and because it is the Pacific Crest Trail, it is almost always in very good condition. The trail climbs through fairly dense forest at the beginning, but soon opens up into a remarkable alpine environment. Soon you will be so greatly rewarded that a couple mosquitos at the beginning of the hike will soon be forgotten.

This hike is truly a gem, and you must remember to bring plenty of film or digital media. Also, you may very likely encounter the migration of the California Tortoise Shell Butterflies in the second week of August. It is a surreal feeling walking through thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of beautiful butterflies while hiking along the upper portion of this trail.

Once you reach Park Ridge, you will be rewarded with a world class view of Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park below you. It is about a mile and a quarter to hike down to the first lake in Jefferson Park, which is called Russell Lake.

If you have the time, you will be greatly rewarded by spending time in Jeff Park (as they call it) by exploring the many lakes.

Enjoy and be gentle on this alpine area.

Russell Lake and Mt Jefferson from the Park Ridge trail
Russell Lake and Mt Jefferson from the Park Ridge trail

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A Virtual Hike of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area

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