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Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes

Southern Oregon Cascades, Oregon

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Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes

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  • Getting an early start for the Diamond Peak hike. Summit Lake at dawn.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The first great view on the trail up to Diamond Peak.  The summit trail leaves just a little farther down the Pacific Crest Trail.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Fireweed (Onagraceae).- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The unofficial Diamond Peak Summit Trail leaving from the PCT.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The trail to the summit is well-marked with cairns.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • A bleak, steep section to the crest of the false summit.  Boots are recommended.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Diamond Peak (8,743') from the false summit.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The north peak from the summit of Diamond Peak.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Looking south over Summit Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The view west toward the Willamette Foothills.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • A glaciated valley just north of the summit.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The eastern view of Crescent Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Foreground, bottom: Mount Yoran (7,100'). Waldo Lake is north. Peaks, right to left: Broken Top (9,177'), South and Middle Sisters (10,358'), Mount Washington (7,795'), Three Fingered Jack (7,844'), Mount Jefferson (10,495'), and Mount Hood (11,249').- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Summit and Crescent Lakes. The cinder cone near Crescent Lake is Odell Butte (7,032').- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The trail junction to Marie and Rockpile Lakes from the PCT.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The subtle turn to Rockpile Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The trail to Rockpile Lake from Marie Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • An alternate route to Diamond Peak on the way to Marie Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Rockpile Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Marie Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The PCT leading back toward Summit Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • A view of Diamond Peak from the PCT.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • Poor man's slippery jack (Suillus tomentosus).- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • The PCT leading back toward Summit Lake.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
  • A clarifying plunge into Summit Lake after a climb up Diamond Peak.- Diamond Peak, Marie + Rockpile Lakes
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Gorgeous views. Non-technical climb. Backcountry campsites.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Southern Oregon Cascades, OR
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
13.75 mi (22.13 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
5,543 ft (1,690 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
3,200 ft (975 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking, Horseback
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Partly cloudy in the morning.
63°F
41°

Wed

Clear throughout the day.
69°F
48°

Thu

Partly cloudy overnight.
69°F
47°

Fri

Light rain in the afternoon and evening.
54°F
38°

Sat

Light rain throughout the day.
39°F
32°

Sun

Light rain starting in the evening.
38°F
32°

Mon

Mixed precipitation in the morning and afternoon.
39°F
30°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

Seen from a distance, Diamond Peak’s bulge is a prime illustration of what you might imagine a shield volcano should look like: the jagged edges become somewhat smoothed, and the silhouette sits lens-like, as if a fraction from a swollen basaltic andesite bubble was locked in mid-rupture above the Odell-Crescent-Summit Lake chain.  Probably less than 100,000 years ago, a pyroclastic cone slowly began to form from a vent that is now Diamond Peak’s north summit. Later and somewhat more quickly, a southern vent opened and gradually allowed the formation of the southern cone, which we now recognize as Diamond Peak’s summit.   Glaciers then did their work, scouring and shaping the sides with deep, broad canyons over thousands of years and sloughing some of the material off into moraines that would cup Odell and Crescent Lake below.

While getting to the top of Diamond Peak takes some fortitude and light preparation in good weather, there are no technical sections to climb, and no special gear is needed beyond a good pair of boots.  One of the most popular and accessible routes to Diamond Peak’s summit uses the Pacific Crest Trail as it winds north from Summit Lake almost directly to the volcano’s southern flank.  The distance and elevation gain on this route make Diamond Peak a challenging hike, but one that is easily accomplished as a day trip. 

The stretch of the PCT leading up to Diamond Peak is a beautiful walk through Douglas firs and lodgepole pines, so you’ll get only a few views on this PCT section of the hike.  After the first few miles you will reach the intersection with the Rockpile Lake Trail that leads to both Marie and Rockpile Lakes.  While both of these lakes are beautiful, close, and well worth seeing, it is wise to make them digestifs; see them if you have the time and energy after your main course, the summit.  When you reach your first incredible view south over Summit Lake, you’ll know you are near the summit trail junction.  This trail leaves the PCT just 25 yards or so from the viewpoint, and it is marked with cairns and sticks in lieu of an official sign.

Wayfinding to the summit is fairly straightforward, though you will need to find cairns from time to time as the trail works across the larger scree fields.  The route is very exposed and steep across the volcanic rock, so don’t forget the water dish and perhaps some booties if you are hiking with a dog.  After some short but grueling sections you’ll hit a false summit that signals the worst of the grade is behind you, as the route from there is more of a ridge crossing.

The views from the summit are stunning in all directions, but the highlights include the sequence of Cascades to the north and the lakes that form a 180-degree arc around the mountain’s eastern base.  You’ll have to move around a bit to catch Mount Yoran, which is immediately beneath Diamond Peak’s north summit.  The list of major Cascades begins with Broken Top and proceeds to the South and Middle Sisters in the Three Sisters Wilderness, Mount Washingtion, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Hood.   You’ll also see Waldo Lake in the northern foreground, with Odell Lake sitting south and east of Waldo, Crescent Lake south of that, while Summit Lake sits in the southern foreground.

Returning by the same route, reward yourself with that visit to Marie and Rockpile Lakes.  They really are close and well worth the extra effort.  Each has a selection of backcountry campsites along its shores, and each is small enough to feel like a personal piece of the wilderness.  Finally, Summit Lake is an ideal spot to take a plunge that washes away the trail dust.  If you swim in the right spot, you’ll be able to float beneath a fantastic view of the peak you just climbed. 
 

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Location + Directions

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