Canyon Creek Meadows is a beautiful, moderate hike through alpine forest into spectacular wildflower meadows at the base of the craggy and colorful Three Fingered Jack. This is a very popular route, and for good reason. The 7-mile loop starts at Jack Lake after a rough drive up to the trailhead, and it gradually climbs out of the 2003 B&B Complex burn area into an old alpine forest and stream fed meadows. The distance from the trailhead to the meadows is short, and one can either turn around and head back or continue the loop around Jack Lake. If you plan to make the loop, Forest rangers request that you follow a clockwise path around the loop.
For those who don’t mind a scramble, follow the “non-maintained” trail to the upper meadow and hike up to the glacier tarn. This beautiful, turquoise-blue tarn is fully exposed by mid to late August. From this point, you have views north to the upper meadow and Mount Jefferson in the distance. If you’d like more elevation gain, continue the scramble up to the saddle where you will be up close with Three Fingered Jack’s sheer and jagged east face. Once on the saddle, you will have a view south to Mount Washington, Three Sisters, and Broken Top.
The best time to visit these meadows is in July, when the wildflowers take center stage. Permits are required to camp in this area, however. Due to overuse and inconsiderate visitors, the area needs rehabilitation. The Forest Service has posted signage in the most damaged areas. Please read the literature at the trailhead and abide by the guidelines. This will help ensure the place stays beautiful for the next generation of visitors.
If you need to cool off during a hot summer’s day, hike the 0.7-mile spur to Wasco Lake for a swim. The area around the lake was burned as part of the same B&B Complex fire, but there are a few pockets of trees and campsites around the lake.