Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.40 mi (13.52 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Tucked away on the east slope of 9,175-foot Broken Top is one of the most well protected lakes in the Central Oregon Cascades, not to mention the Three Sisters Wilderness. Make the hike to the 8,150-foot Broken Top Crater to view a gem replete with a deep, turquoise pool and a sweeping view of the Three Sisters and much of Eastern Oregon. Unless you choose to trek over fields of continuous snow, the hiking trail is only clear for a few months a year, and getting to the trailhead requires a high-clearance four-wheel drive capable of slogging through some deep ruts and steep pitches. The rough access and short seasonal window of opportunity makes this hike to Broken Top Crater all the more alluring.

Just after the wilderness permit information board, the trail follows a near level, man-made canal called Crater Creek Ditch. After approximately half a mile you will reach the drainage canal's end and leave the forest of mountain hemlock. The trail signage at many of the subsequent intersections can be somewhat confusing, but remembering the adventure's name does help. Contrary to what the name "Broken Top Crater" implies, you are not heading into the main, south-facing caldera of the extinct volcano where Crook Glacier lies. Rather, "Broken Top Crater" is a bowl-shaped moraine nestled on the mountain's east side. If you are ever in doubt as to which trail leads up to the "crater", simply follow the second creek that flows down between Broken Top and Ball Butte. This trail will lead you to the forever memorable top.

Broken Top, the fourth highest peak in the Three Sisters Wilderness, is an extinct and extensively glacially-eroded stratovolcano similar to Goat Rocks in central Washington. Geologists estimate that the volcano last erupted some 100,000 years ago.

Depending on how ambitious you are, as either a driver or hiker, you can also hike to Broken Top Crater from the Todd Lake Trailhead. However, hiking this beautiful route through the Three Sisters Wilderness is a serious undertaking that is roughly 14 miles there-and-back, with 2,380 feet of net elevation gain. Note: Camping at No Name Lake has been banned due to overuse.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Incredible panoramic vistas. Wildflowers.

Cons

Very rugged 4x4 access road.

Trailhead Elevation

6,850.00 ft (2,087.88 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)

Features

Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

09/11/2018
Gorgeous moderate hike with an incredible payoff. Need a high clear age vehicle on the way in due to DEEP ruts. Saw a few cars turn around with cracked bumpers. Caution: there are some dead elk in the lake at the top, so don’t drink the creek water on the way up.

Unfortunately I lost a ring somewhere between the lake and the parking lot on September 11th. It was in a red silk zip bag. Please let there be good in the world!
07/22/2018
Climbed this beauty a few weekends ago. I specifically went on a Sunday afternoon because I was looking for a more solitude atmosphere.

The hike started at the Broken Top Trail Head (off of NF-380). Word to the wise, I wouldn't bring a car with a clearance of less than a Jeep Liberty up this road. This road has a lot of divots, is sandy in places, and in other places has small volcanic rock. This is a one lane road and often times one car will need to pull off the road to let the other one pass.

The hike had about a 2000' elevation gain over approximately 4-4.5 miles, and there are no switch backs. The trail is moderately well marked (either by foot path or with other hikers). A good rule of thumb is to keep Broken Top on your left as you ascend up to the crater. Once you are out of the tree line there were minimal bugs.
Please be aware that people who are not adapted to high altitudes may suffer mild to moderate altitude sickness (Headaches, Nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness, and of course shortness of breath).

There is back pack camping available along No Name Lake shores. If you'd like to see Sisters (highly recommended) there is an additional 300' elevation gain to the ridge.

I highly recommend this hike. Approximately 2 hour hike in and a 2 hour hike out.
05/08/2017
Recently did this hike a few days ago. I am new to backpacking and don't know too much about it, but I have been hiking for a few years. This is my first real "backpacking" trip that I have taken. Let's just say, a lot of lessons have been burned. The gate was closed to enter NF-370 at this time of the year so it adds more than a few miles to your hike. My hiking partner and I didn't have the right protective gear, so we got some good 2nd degree burns from the reflection of the snow, and most important that you have the right eye protection, because we wore just plain sunglasses and both our eyes got burnt very badly. The weather was 75°, so the hike back was miserable as we were sinking in a couple of feet from the snow melting that day. Snowshoes would have been a great help. But after all those great lessons, a beautiful hike it was.
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