Fun Trail Facts
From: Walder, et.al., 1999, Volcano Hazards in the Mount Jefferson Region, Oregon: USGS Open-File Report 99-24
How amazing is it that the gorgeously flat areas of Jefferson Park and the lakes therein are largely the work of glacial flooding!?
Whitewater Trail to Jefferson Park
County & State
Marion County, Oregon
Cascades | Cascade Crest Montane Forest & Cascade Subalpine/Alpine
Willamette National Forest
Latitude & Longitude (DEC)
Keeping in mind that this is a pretty grueling day hike, it was actually a pretty phenomenal one to have my 4-yo son along with me. The stretch along the edge of the Sentinel Hills has some drops on the right side that kept the lad close to me, but most of the hike is a gentle climb without much to be concerned about. On a Saturday in August, this trail was packed early in the morning and cleared out by late afternoon.
At Jefferson Park, 5,902 feet
11.0 miles round trip from the Whitewater Trailhead to the Scout Lake. We went up and around the lakes a couple of times and ended up clocking about 15 miles.
Out and back
Access to Trailhead
Access to the Whitewater Trailhead is pretty dang easy, accessible right of of North Santiam Highway 22, 10 miles past Detroit. The only caveat is that the first mile or so of the gravel road off of the highway has some major potholes. See here.
Northwest Forest Pass
With a lovely day in front of us, Trail-Son and I hoofed it many miles, flirting with Mount Jefferson the entire way. Along every single turn of the trail, that lovely mountain was right there saying hello. Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack are the lad's favorite mountains, so it was really amazing to watch him "interact" with one of the two in such a close proximity. At one point, we could hear the water flow coming off of the area around the Jefferson Park Glacier, and I could have sworn the lad was having a full conversation with the mountain in response.
In another really awesome turn of events, the wee one has officially hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail (~ 1% of the Oregon stretch)!
I learned the hard way on this trip that the few pounds that he has packed on this summer makes all of the difference with regard to carrying him up on my shoulders when he gets worn out. Granted, 15 miles will do that to you, but I hit Craigslist the next day and procured an amazing Kelty Kids FC 3.0 carrier from an awesome family that had put it through its paces in the Sierra Nevada. While the boy will get to use it for (maybe) the next year, it will definitely be ready for Trail-Daughter next summer and give my poor shoulders a bit of relief.
I could write about every step of this beautiful trail, but I'm just going to let a few pictures tell the tale. If you're up for a little bit of a crowd and either a long day hike or a really reasonable backpacking destination, this may be one of the best choices I've run across.
Jefferson Park from Whitewater Trailhead Hike (Portland Hikers Field Guide)
Oregon Hikes - Jefferson Park (Oregon.com/William Sullivan)
Jefferson Park and Park Butte (Loomis Adventures)
Jefferson Park Trail - AllTrails.com