Jefferson Park

via Jefferson Ridge

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Jefferson Park

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  • The beginning of the trail through a forest dominated by noble fir and mountain hemlock.- Jefferson Park
  • Fringed grass of Parnassus (Parnassia fimbriata).- Jefferson Park
  • A scree field near the trailhead.- Jefferson Park
  • A panoramic view looking north toward Pyramid Butte (6,059').- Jefferson Park
  • Richardson's penstemon (Penstemon richardsonii).- Jefferson Park
  • Cascade blueberry (Vaccinium deliciosum).- Jefferson Park
  • View north toward Mount Hood (11,249') and Pyramid Butte (6,059').- Jefferson Park
  • The Pacific Crest Trail en route to Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Looking northwest from the PCT, just north of Jefferson Ridge.- Jefferson Park
  • Looking north from PCT.- Jefferson Park
  • PCT en route to Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Looking west below Jefferson Ridge.- Jefferson Park
  • PCT en route to Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • PCT en route to Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • View south from Jefferson Ridge toward Mount Hood (11,249') and Olallie Butte (7,215').- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') from Jefferson Ridge.- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') from Jefferson Ridge.- Jefferson Park
  • Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) at top of Jefferson Ridge.- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') en route to Jefferson park.- Jefferson Park
  • Field of lupine (lupinus) just north of Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Magenta paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora) in Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Jefferson Park wildflowers.- Jefferson Park
  • Common red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) in Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') from Jefferson Park near Russell Lake.- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') from Jefferson Park near Russell Lake.- Jefferson Park
  • Explorer's gentian (Gentiana calycosa) and aster.- Jefferson Park
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495') at sunset from Jefferson Park.- Jefferson Park
Overview + Weather
Stunning wildflower meadow. Views of Mount Jefferson.
Rugged, four-wheel drive road access after 16 miles of rough gravel road. Limited seasonal access.
Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, OR
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
11.60 mi (18.67 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
5,500 ft (1,676 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
2,400 ft (732 m)
Trail Uses:
Trail type: 
Dogs allowed: 

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Hike Description

Hike Description


The 5.8-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail into Jefferson Park is one of Oregon’s most coveted hikes. Both the journey and the destination are truly spectacular.

Jefferson Park is a flat basin at the bottom of Mount Jefferson’s north side. It’s a lush valley situated in a protected bowl with the glaciated stratovolcano on one side and the 6,900-foot Jefferson Ridge on the other. Known for its stunning display of wildflowers in late summer and its numerous subalpine lakes, the park captivates outdoor enthusiasts of all types, be they PCT through-hikers, casual explorers, or photographers hoping to snap the perfect shot.

Access into Jefferson Park can be gained either from the north via Jefferson Ridge, the trailhead at Breitenbush Lake, or from the west via Sentinel Hills and NF-2243 (also roughly 5.8 miles one-way).

When accessing the park from the north there are basically two schools of thought:

  1. The first approach is to hit the trail around late July to experience the peak of the wildflower bloom, with thick meadows of common red paintbrush, the white petals of western pasque flower, and the ubiquitous deep violet bulbs of countless alpine lupine. The downside of this early entry is that snow fields are likely on the top of Jefferson Ridge, making the route along the PCT difficult to navigate. Luckily, tall cairns are strung along the trail above tree line, and you’ll likely need to follow them closely. Once at the top of the ridge, should you lose the trail, simply pick up the trail by descending/traversing east-bound.
  2. The second approach is to get into Jefferson Park more toward late August/early September to avoid navigating the snowfields of Jefferson Ridge. Timing can vary based on snowfall the previous winter, but typically waiting this long will ensure a nearly ‘dry’ entry.  Although most of the lupine will have dropped their flowers and sprouted their pea pods by this point, numerous other wildflower should still be present, including magenta paintbrush, cascade aster, pearly everlasting, white-topped western bistort, and explorer's gentian.  You’ll also still find common western monkeyflower and Lewis’s monkeyflower lining the stream banks.

As an alternate route, consider the roughly 2-mile detour that ascends to the top of 6,095-foot Pyramid Butte. The old Skyline Trail can be difficult to find, but views from the top of this jagged outcropping are worth the additional mileage. When considered independently, the climb to the top of Pyramid Butte makes for a relatively easy, 3.4 mile round-trip day hike.

Note: If you are driving in from Olallie Lake, note that the section of road between Horseshoe and Breitenbush Lake (roughly 2 miles) is very rough, and a high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is recommend.  Further, backcountry camping within 250 feet of Jefferson Park’s lakes is only permitted at signed, designated campsites.

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