Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
23.30 mi (37.50 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.

The 20-mile hike into the Three Sisters Wilderness to Chambers Lakes from the Obsidian Trailhead is worth the effort. Set in the saddle between South Sister and Middle Sister, Chambers Lakes are the highest accessible lakes in the Cascades. With an average elevation around 7,000 feet, the lakes stay cold year round. Don’t bother packing in your swimsuit. Even though it’s very likely you won’t want to take a dip, the exceptional views make this an extraordinary destination: after hiking up into alpine territory and cresting the final stretch of the trail leading to the lakes, you are presented with a volcanic landscape that resembles a moonwalk with mountain views.

For the overall hike, there are two challenging-but-shorter stretches. Immediately from the Obsidian Trailhead you will gain elevation to reach the lava fields with views to the Three Sisters. After this lava field, the travel is mostly on flat or rolling terrain until you hit the final push for Chambers Lakes. The last stretch up into the saddle between South Sister and Middle Sister is approximately 1-mile up via switchbacks.

Campsites and water options are plentiful along this adventure. The trails are well maintained and helpful signage can be found at each intersection to keep you on the right path. 

Note: The Obsidian Limited Entry Area Permit is required for all day-hikes and overnight camping in the restricted area along with a NW Forest Pass. Contact the McKenzie River Ranger Station at 541.822.3381 for more information.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Obsidian Limited Entry Area Permit

Pros

Rugged and barren landscape. Far less crowded than southeast side of Three Sisters.

Cons

Special limited entry area permit required. Frequent high winds at Chambers Lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

4,780.00 ft (1,456.94 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,420.00 ft (737.62 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers
Geologically significant
Big Game Watching

Suitable for

Horseback

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

07/17/2018
Hello Jonathan - the unnamed lake is to the Northwest of Chambers Lakes, up the ridge through unmarked and somewhat hard-to-find trail. If you look from Satellite view, you should see the small body of water. At the time we made this trip in late summer there was water up on the ridge, but that will of course vary from year to year. I recommend filtering water at Chambers Lakes before going in search of the higher-elevation camp site.
07/11/2018
Hi There,

I'm hoping to do this trip as a (long) overnight trip, and I'm curious about the location of that unnamed lake where you camped. You mention it is at the intersection of the unmaintained trail up the Chambers Lakes, however I don't see any body of water on any topo map at the intersection of this trail and the PCT?

Really I'm just wondering about water availability at this portion of the hike (before heading up to the lakes).

cheers!
Have been in the area a couple of times. The trail in to the lakes is an unmaintained user trail, just head east up a small (very pretty) valley from Reese Lake and you'll find it - it isn't marked. Much easier to spot coming the other direction from Camp Lake. A great 3 day trip is to incorporate this piece in a loop around South Sister or North/Middle Sister, both are 35+ miles.
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