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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
14.40 mi (23.17 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 Obsidian Trail provides an excellent perspective on the many facets of this unique Cascade environment, from dense forests to rugged mountain views, gentle streams to open meadows, lava flows to obsidian cliffs. These cliffs were popular with Native Americans who used the obsidian to craft tools. The area is only accessible once the seasonal snowpack on Highway 242 clears, and you will see snowpack on the trail well into July. August is a popular time of year as the meadows are full of wildflowers.

The trail can be done in a day or broken up into several days according to your time frame. The trail connects with the Pacific Crest Trail just after Obsidian Falls, and from there you can take trails to any of the Sisters or to Collier Cone and the Collier Glacier. The Obsidian Trail generally doesn't provide the sweeping Cascade views you may expect from the area, but getting to higher elevations is easy from the falls.

The Obsidian Trail is one of the more heavily used trails in the Sisters area. This area requires a permit for overnight or day use adventures, and it is best to plan early in the season and to get a permit when they first become available. Permits for the entire summer are available beginning at 7 a.m. on May 1 via the recreation.gov website or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Because permits are issued to a limited number of groups each day, summer weekends fill fast. Also note that wilderness rangers strictly enforce a total ban on campfires and that tents are prohibited within 100 feet of trails or water.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Varied terrain throughout. Overnight camping options.

Cons

Crowds in this high-use area. Permits are limited for even day hikes.

Trailhead Elevation

4,600.00 ft (1,402.08 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,800.00 ft (548.64 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Suitable for

Horseback

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

07/22/2016
Here are some pictures from my Obsidian Trail hike. I did a one-night backpacking trip on the loop and explored Arrowhead Lake and the faces of the North and Middle Sisters. The scenery never stopped and the obsidian glistened all around. Gorgeous hike.
10/17/2015
I did this hike in Mid October as an overnight backpacking trip, and it was awesome. While it rained most of the time, it was quiet and lush. I can't wait to go back when the wildflowers are in bloom and to see some peaks. I love how it was a little of everything - volcanic flows, alpine meadows, fir forest... The overnight permits were all checked out, so we got two day-use permits and camped at Minnie Scott Springs (which had no water at the time) outside the permit area.

Highly recommend!
09/01/2013
More photos to add to this awesome hike!
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