This superb route leads along a creek through a lush old-growth forest carpeted with moss to Pamelia Lake, one of Oregon's premiere day-hike destinations, where you can enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding peaks. From the parking lot, head east to the Pamelia Lake Trailhead and proceed as the trail plunges into the deep forest. The character of the trail's first mile was recently and dramatically changed when, as William L. Sullivan notes, "a portion of the Milk Creek Glacier broke off Mt. Jefferson, launching a mudflow that roared through the woods here four feet deep." Now you can find several species of wildflowers blooming in May and June; rhododendrons, fairy slippers, and trilliums are abundant, and every 3 years the bear grass puts on an impressive display. Huckleberry and vine maple changes colors in the fall, and various types of mushrooms pop up along the trail.
After 2.2 miles you will reach the trail junction for Grizzly Peak to the right or Hunts Cove and the Pacific Crest Trail to the left. If you have the time, ignore both for the moment and head straight to check out Pamelia Lake. Once there, hug the shoreline and hike around to the right side of the lake for a lovely view of Mt. Jefferson. If you are there on a still day, you'll be greeted by an incredible reflection of the mountain. There are 13 dedicated backcountry campsites at the lake, but beware of algae blooms that make the water unsafe for drinking, fishing, and swimming. Gather your drinking water from Pamelia Creek.
When you are finished at Pamelia Lake, head back to the trail junction and follow the signs to Grizzly Peak. The trail steadily climbs 1,310 feet in 2.1 miles to the first cliffside view point, where you will see Mount Jefferson and Pamelia Lake (this is a good return point if there is still a lot of snow lingering around, which can be the case well into June). As you hike the remaining 0.7 miles to the summit, you'll get more views of Mount Jefferson and glimpses of the Three Sisters and Three Fingered Jack. The trail ends at the summit where you can kick back and enjoy the view!
In addition to your Northwest Forest Parking Pass, a limited entry pass is also required in advance and costs $6. Plan ahead of time, as this is a very popular trail during the summer. Avoid some of the crowds by going on a weekday if you can.