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Willamette National Forest
Whitewater Trail to Jefferson Park Hike
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Length: 12 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1800' elevation gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
NW Forest Pass Required

Features: This is possibly the most worthwhile hiking destination in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness area. The trail is a gentle steady climb and is in excellent condition as it is well maintained.

The hike gains about 1800' in elevation, and takes you up from a fairly dense large growth forest into the sub alpine region on the north flank of beautiful Mt. Jefferson.

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 the Sentinel Hills where after a mile and a half it intersects the trail from Triangulation Peak. Bearing to the right the trail continues to climb and the trees for the most part become significantly smaller and less dense.

In about another mile you will come around a gentle bend in the trail when all of a sudden the earth drops away from you on the right and Mt Jefferson leaps into your view. This is a truly fantastic scene and worth the whole trip alone.

As you continue you will come to the only challenging creek crossing. Depending on the season, it can be difficult, but most of the time it is no serious problem.

Shortly after crossing the creek, you will come to the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Now bear left onto the PCT and follow it to Jefferson Park.

As you come out onto the level plain of Jefferson Park, you will notice a myriad of trails leading to various lakes and ponds and camping sites. But I would continue on to the northern most of the major lakes, Russell Lake and devour the views and in season the floral displays around the lake.

Then back track to Scout Lake and Bays Lake. You can follow a trail along the north side of both of these lakes then circle around the west side of Bays Lake, returning to the PCT and back to your vehicle.

With all the water you can be sure of insects, so come prepared. Nevertheless, it is absolutely worth the trip no matter a few pests..... ENJOY!!

Looking across Scout Lake toward Mt. Jefferson
Looking across Scout Lake toward Mt. Jefferson
How to get there:

From Detroit, OR travel southeast on the North Santiam Highway 22 for about 10 miles then go left on Forest Road 2243 (Whitewater Road) and travel about 7.5 miles to the trailhead and parking area.

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A Virtual Hike of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area

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