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.