Visit three of the “Seven Wonders of Oregon” – Mt. Hood, Smith Rock and Crater Lake – in just three days on this diverse and action-packed adventure in the Cascades of north-central Oregon. Cap it off with a visit to Silver Falls State Park which has almost as many waterfalls as the celebrated Columbia Gorge. Learn about the rich natural history of the region as we explore each of these destinations up close!
Day 1: Mt Hood and Smith Rock
Volcano Vistas. Sub-alpine Lake. Basalt Canyons.
After leaving Portland, we explore the best Mt Hood National Forest has to offer. See how Mirror Lake earned its name, offering a perfect reflection of the mountain on a calm day. From there, we head across the Cascade Mountains to Smith Rock State Park – often heralded as the birthplace of sport rock-climbing in America. Surrounded by sage desert, church-like spires of volcanic ash rise above the aptly named Crooked River to form the central features of this majestic landscape. Against a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes, climbers hang suspended from the cliffs while eagles and prairie falcons ride thermal air currents in search of prey. Enjoy dinner and sample an array of unparalleled craft beers at Bend Brewery before getting some rest at the historic McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend. We will be here for both nights of the tour.
Walking Distances: Mirror Lake: 4.5 miles, 700’ gain; 3500-4200’ elev.
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Day 2: Crater Lake Nat’l Park
Crater Lake. Waterfall. Fire Lookout. The Pinnacles.
Head south to Crater Lake today – the deepest lake in the U.S. and the scene of the most dramatic geologic event in the history of Oregon. 7700 years ago, Mt. Mazama – once a towering, 12,000’ volcano – collapsed in a climactic eruption, leaving a crater nearly six miles in diameter and 2000’ deep. In the meantime, the crater has been filling with rain water and snow-melt… Contemplate the origins of this mind-boggling scenic wonder while you try to spot the Old Man of the Lake – a 30-foot hemlock log that has been sailing on the surface of the lake for over 100 years. Our first stop will be the Mt. Scott fire lookout for a literal overview. On the way to this (literally) breath-taking summit, traverse fields of pumice, dawdle through wildflower meadows, and rest your legs beneath mountain hemlock, whitebark pine, or the occasional Shasta red fir. Take a short walk to lush Plaikni Falls before stopping to contemplate the Pinnacles. These anomalistic, needle-like rock formations rising from the depths of Sand Creek Canyon are visually reminiscent of some of the canyonlands in Utah.
Walking Distances: Mt. Scott: 4.4 mi, 1,250’ gain, 8832’ high point
– Plaikni Falls: 1 mile, 150’ gain
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Day 3: Santiam Pass and Silver Falls
Volcano Views. Wildflowers. Waterfalls. Rain Forest.
It is a bit of a drive back to Portland on our final day, but we will break it up with scenic stops and walks, lunch, and – of course – another great hike! At our first stop we witness the birth of a full-formed river, the Metolius, from a meadow on the edge of a pine forest. Next, we go for a walk at Santiam Pass to check out the volcano views and see the resplendent wildflowers which have replaced the forests 15 years after a massive forest fire. In stark contrast to this morning’s landscape, as we descend back toward Portland in the afternoon we return to the moss-carpeted, densely forested westside (aka – the “wet-side”) of the Cascade Mountains. The Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park provides a perfect representation of the rainforest ecology of this area. On top of that, it boasts the 2nd highest concentration of falls in Oregon (the Columbia Gorge is #1). We will hike a 5-mile section of the trail in the afternoon before returning you to Portland.
Walking Distances: Trail of Ten Falls: 5 mi, 900’ gain; 1600’ avg. elev.
Crater Lake & Mt. Hood Hiking Tour Details
- Tour Highlights
- Is This Tour for Me?
- Tour Inclusions
- Accommodations & Food
- Customizations for Your Family or Group
- Additional Information
- Tour Preparation
Our lodging for this 3-day adventure are at the historic McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend, Oregon.
Naturalist guides connect you to the story behind the scenery.
Hike to a mountain lake with close-up views of Mt. Hood.
Check out the dizzying array of basalt “sculptures” at world-famous Smith Rock State Park.
Explore Crater Lake National Park!
Admire ten lovely waterfalls on a mere 5-mile hike in a park that boasts the 2nd highest concentration of waterfalls in Oregon (Columbia Gorge is #1, of course).
Spend two nights in Bend, Oregon – an outdoor enthusiasts mecca as well as a craft beer aficionados’ Shangri-La.
If you want to do more than just hike and see the sights, our naturalist guides will help you connect with the story behind the natural wonders of this diverse region.
This tour is suitable for all hiking abilities. Easier, or more-difficult options can be found.
- Naturalist tour leader
- Overnight accommodations – all included
- Full breakfasts – all included
- All lunches included. We will pack our trail lunches from fresh, local, organic (where possible) ingredients.
- Full dinners – including appetizers. Alcohol at restaurants is not provided.
- Transportation fees.
- Snacks, water, sparkling water, local wine, local beer, etc.
- Accommodations for this tour are at the historic McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend, Oregon.
- We have selected these accommodations to give you the opportunity to explore the area on your own, as well as with the group.
- Bend is one of the microbrewing capitals of the Northwest, featuring options for unique gastro-pubs as well as excellent dining in general.
Although we see our 3-day itinerary as giving the best the area has to offer in terms of dining and accommodations, the high concentration of nearby lodging and food choices make this itinerary eminently flexible and customizable for your group. We are happy to discuss other possibilities with you!
- More basic (less-expensive) accommodations can be had on all nights of the tour.
- Another option for controlling costs is having breakfasts and dinners on your own.
- The hikes can be easily selected and tailored (shortened or extended) to meet the desires or abilities of your group.
- The tour can also start and end in Bend, Oregon (instead of Portland), allowing for more hiking in the Crater Lake and Bend areas.
- The tour can be lengthened by combining this 3-day tour with more days in the area or with another tour (or tours) in the region to create a longer and more diverse Northwest wilderness experience! Options include:
SEASONS (What to expect):
Summer (late-June to mid-Sept.) is the best time to visit the area and be reasonably assured that all the roads and trails are open.
Real Time Climate and weather:
McMenamins – drop-off, same day service, across the street Crater Lake Lodge – guest laundry services
Books: For background on the Park, we recommend: Crater Lake National Park - A History, by Rick Harmon Central Oregon booklist
Crater Lake National Park website
Below is a suggested list of items that you may want to bring on your upcoming hiking tour. When packing, remember that the weather can offer surprises, especially in the mountains. Plan to dress in layers and carry extra clothing every day for lunch and rest stops.
- Hiking pants or convertible pants
- Casual clothes—jeans, shorts, sport shirts
- Dinner clothes—nice casual attire is fine
- Hiking boots suitable for rocky trails
- Casual shoes
- Hiking socks (no cotton) and casual socks
- Sweater or light jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Bathing suit for hot tubs and spas
- Camera, extra batteries, charger, and memory cards; dry bag (optional)
- Daypack with hydration system
- Driver’s license
- National Parks or Federal Recreation Lands Pass (optional; bring it if you have one)
- Reading material
- Ball cap for sun protection
- Sunglasses – dark enough for snow and bright sun
- Insect repellant of choice
- Toiletries and blister kit
- Vitamins and / or prescription drugs
- Extra set of glasses or contacts
- Small headlamp or flashlight
- Trekking poles (collapsible)
- A spirit of adventure
Additional Items for Cooler Seasons and High Elevations
- Baselayer shirts and tights
- Long sleeve fleece or mid-weight jacket suitable for active hiking
- Warm jacket for mornings and evenings
- Fleece or wool hat
- Winter gloves
- Thermal socks
- Wool sweater
- Waterproof rain gear