Looking for a hike with excellent Cascade views and a few swimming options along the way? Scott Mountain is a great choice. The route to Scott Mountain first passes Benson Lake, a popular spot for backpacking, hiking and swimming. Between Benson Lake and Scott Mountain you'll pass by Tenas Lakes, which also make excellent swimming and backpacking destinations. Keep walking and you'll encounter thick huckleberry meadows with berries that ripen in August. Then, continue uphill through alternating stretches of forest and wildflower meadows to the top of Scott Mountain. From the summit, you get a high vantage point over extensive lava fields that flowed from Belknap Crater and Little Belknap Crater just a few thousand years ago. Small stands of trees fight for a hold in the cracked, black lava. Mount Washington and the Three Sisters are also visible.
To return to the trailhead, you have two options: return the way you came, or make a loop and head to Hand Lake. Making a loop only adds another 1.5 miles, and you'll get the experience of walking through an old burn. Fireweed, huckleberries, and other early colonizers are predominant there among the charred trees that are still standing. Either way, it's almost totally downhill back to Scott Lake.