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Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead

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  • Starting off through a thick forest of mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana). - Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Stopping off at the Three Sisters Wilderness boundary and warning sign for limited entry area located roughly 0.5 miles up the trail.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Obsidian flow originating from the Collier Cone.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Hiking south along the Pacific Crest Trail en route to Chambers Lakes.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Trails are well marked with signage. - Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • View of North Sister (left, 10,085 ft) and Middle Sister (right, 10,047 ft) from the Pacific Crest Trail.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Obsidian along the trail.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Obsidian sparkles as hikers travel south along the Pacific Crest Trail.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Obsidian Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • No camping within 100 feet of the trial (a rule that is followed better by some than others).- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • View of North Sister (left, 10,085 ft) and Middle Sister (right, 10,047 ft) from the PCT.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Middle Sister (right, 10,047 ft) from the PCT.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • First glimpse of South Sister (10,358 ft) en route to Chambers Lakes.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Hikers on spur trail that follows Separation Creek east toward Chambers Lakes.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • View back west to The Husband (7,524 ft) from the trail along Separation Creek.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Chambers Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Chambers Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • South Sister (10,358 ft) and Chambers Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Chambers Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Chambers Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Sunset at camp at the intersection of the PCT and Separation Creek.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Ground cover foliage in the tundra-like meadow.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • View to South Sister (10,358 ft) over an unnamed lake. - Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Enjoying a campfire.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Camp at the intersection of the PCT and Separation Creek.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • The moon from camp in the Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • Milky Way above camp at the intersection of the PCT and Separation Creek.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • South Sister, unnamed lake, and camp at the intersection of the PCT and Separation Creek in the Three Sisters Wilderness.- Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
  • - Chambers Lakes Hike via Obsidian Trailhead
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Rugged and barren landscape. Far less crowded than southeast side of Three Sisters.
Cons: 
Special limited entry area permit required. Frequent high winds at Chambers Lakes.
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Region:
Central Oregon, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,420.00 ft (737.62 m)
Parking Pass: 
Obsidian Limited Entry Area Permit
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
23.30 mi (37.50 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,780.00 ft (1,456.94 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The 20-mile hike into the Three Sisters Wilderness to Chambers Lakes from the Obsidian Trailhead is worth the effort. Set in the saddle between South Sister and Middle Sister, Chambers Lakes are the highest accessible lakes in the Cascades. With an average elevation around 7,000 feet, the lakes stay cold year round. Don’t bother packing in your swimsuit. Even though it’s very likely you won’t want to take a dip, the exceptional views make this an extraordinary destination: after hiking up into alpine territory and cresting the final stretch of the trail leading to the lakes, you are presented with a volcanic landscape that resembles a moonwalk with mountain views.

For the overall hike, there are two challenging-but-shorter stretches. Immediately from the Obsidian Trailhead you will gain elevation to reach the lava fields with views to the Three Sisters. After this lava field, the travel is mostly on flat or rolling terrain until you hit the final push for Chambers Lakes. The last stretch up into the saddle between South Sister and Middle Sister is approximately 1-mile up via switchbacks.

Campsites and water options are plentiful along this adventure. The trails are well maintained and helpful signage can be found at each intersection to keep you on the right path. 

Note: The Obsidian Limited Entry Area Permit is required for all day-hikes and overnight camping in the restricted area along with a NW Forest Pass. Contact the McKenzie River Ranger Station at 541.822.3381 for more information.

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