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Middle Sister, East Approach

Pole Creek + Hayden Glacier Route

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Middle Sister, East Approach

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  • Trail marker at the Pole Creek Trailhead.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Three Sisters Wilderness marker with North Sister (10,085') in the background. The area is still recovering from the Pole Creek fire, a lightening-caused wildfire that burned in 2012.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Soap Creek cossing.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Trail junction marker at Soap Creek.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Please stay on the trails while this area recovers from a forest fire.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • There are many flat gravel and cinder areas that are good for backcountry campsites. Please use typical "Leave No Trace" principles if you decide to overnight in the wilderness here. - Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Climbing up a cinder hill with Middle Sister (10,047') in the background.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Indian paintbrush (Castilleja) flowers litter the rock fields.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Following the North Fork of Whychus Creek toward Hayden Glacier. Middle Sister (10,047') and Prouty Point in the distance.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Backcountry campsite with South Sister (10,358') in the background.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Making our way up the "funnel" to the base of Hayden Glacier. Middle Sister (10,047') and Prouty Point in the distance.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • - Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Middle Sister (10,047'), with Hayden Glacier draping it's northeast slopes.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • South Sister (10,358'), Broken Top (9,177'), and Mount Bachelor (9,068') seen from the ridge beside Hayden Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Hayden Glacier and Prouty Point.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Look back at Broken Top (9,177') and the base of Hayden Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Walking up Collier Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • North Sister (10,085') as seen from Collier Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Middle Sister (10,047') seen from Collier Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Middle Sister (10,047') seen from Prouty Point.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Looking south toward South Sister (10,358'), Broken Top (9,177'), and Mount Bachelor (9,068') from the summit of Middle Sister.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Looking north toward North Sister (10,085'), Belknap Crater, Mount Washington (7,795'), Three Fingered Jack (7,844'), and Mount Jefferson (10,495') in the distance.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Looking at North Sister (10,085') from the summit of Middle Sister.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Decending back to Hayden Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Decending on Hayden Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • A large cravasse, South Sister (10,358'), Broken Top (9,177'), and Mount Bachelor (9,068') from Hayden Glacier.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • The Milky Way over South Sister (10,358') in the moonlight.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • The moon over Broken Top (left), Mount Bachelor (middle), and South Sister (right).- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Sunrise over a snowfield below the Hayden Glacier as a climber makes his way up.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • A climber ascends toward Prouty Point (right) and Middle Sister (right).- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • Campsite at timberline, approximately 6,800 feet.- Middle Sister, East Approach
  • The cliffs of (from the right) Middle Sister on the right dominate the view while South Sister, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top reside in the distance.- Middle Sister, East Approach
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Panorramic views of the Oregon Cascades. Solitude. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
Climber access trail is unmarked from the main trail. Hard to follow. Parking at trailhead can be hard to find.
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Region:
Central Oregon, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,757.00 ft (1,449.93 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
16.40 mi (26.39 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,290.00 ft (1,612.39 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Middle Sister, the lowest of the Three Sisters, offers a great alpine experience for novice mountaineers and rewarding, panoramic views of the surrounding Cascade. There are several routes to the summit; from the east side, the mountain is accessed via the Pole Creek Trailhead using a route that leads over Hayden Glacier.

Pole Creek Trailhead was the origin of a large forest fire back in 2012, and it is still a sensitive area. This approach winds through a large section of this burn where plants are slowly recovering and there is little shade. The climber's access trail is no longer marked from the main trail, and it is difficult to follow once you are above timberline. Should you miss the turnoff nicknamed the "sandy split," stop at the crossing of North Fork of Whychus Creek and follow the creek up toward the glacier.

For those familiar and comfortable with glacier travel, Hayden Glacier offers the quickest, most direct route up the mountain. For others who would rather skirt the glacier, follow the North Sister route up to the top of Collier Glacier, then transverse around Prouty Point and onto the saddle where Hayden Glacier and Renfrew Glacier meet. From there you'll have to scramble up loose rocks and scree to the summit.

The conditions on this route vary greatly depending on the time of year you decide to summit. Snow can linger on the steeper top section of the mountain as late as mid-August, making crampons and an ice ax a necessity. From late August until early October the summit is normally clear, and a summit can be completed without the crampons and ice ax. However, the last steep section of the Middle Sister is composed of very unstable rock, and the scramble up to the top can be fairly precarious. Take your time and mind your footing. Be aware of people below you, as it is easy to dislodge rocks as you make your way up.

Several backcountry campsites dot the area should you want to camp. Campfires are not allowed within 100 feet of water or the trail. Remember to "Leave No Trace" when traveling through this area.

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