Description - "The PCT in Oregon is typically wooded," writes Karen Berger in The Pacific Crest Trail; A Hiker's Companion, "following long, broad ridges in coniferous forests dotted with lakes. Climbs are gentle, the footway well-graded. Strong long-distance hikers frequently cover up to 30 miles a day here - and sometimes more."
- It's true, the Oregon section of the PCT (from near Siskiyou Summit southernmost Oregon to the Washington border) is not only the shortest, but also the easiest to hike or ride. Oregon's Cascade Range is a subdued volcanic landscape, having a gentle crest that is fairly constant in elevation.
Volcanoes including Diamond Peak, Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt. McLoughlin, the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood punctuate the skyline. The highest point in Oregon is an unnamed saddle (elev. 7,560') north of Mt. Thielsen. The only major elevation change on this section of the trail is the 3,160' drop into the Columbia River Scenic Gorge to cross the Columbia River and into Washington via the Bridge of the Gods (elev. 180').
While volcanoes dominate the Oregon skies, lakes populate much of its floor, especially in the Sky Lakes Wilderness and Diamond Peak Wilderness. More small lakes and ponds are found in the Three Sisters Wilderness and north of Highway 20 in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and the adjacent Olallie Lake Scenic Area.
The chief attractions on the Oregon PCT are Crater Lake (the deepest lake in the nation and the seventh deepest in the world) and Mt. Hood (elev. 11,235'), Oregon's largest and most hazardous active volcano. Additionally, an alternate route down the Eagle Creek Trail (one of Oregon's most popular hiking trails) into the town of Cascade Locks is a scenic highlight, passing deep pools, cascades and even behind a waterfall. (Please note that the Eagle Creek Trail is closed to horses.)
Recreation - Hikers and equestrians use this extraordinary trail. (Please note that the Eagle Creek Trail is closed to horses.)
Precipitation in this section results in dense, shady forests, dominated by Douglas, silver, and noble fir at lower elevations and alpine fir nearer the treeline. Other plants include pinedrops, prince's pine, and Oregon grape in the dense forests, while pasque flower and fireweed frequent open spaces. Animals include mice, squirrels, beaver, fox, deer, and elk. Songbirds pursue insects while nutcrackers gorge themselves on pine seeds and grouse forage on the ground.
August and September are the best months for hiking and riding in Oregon because most of the snow and mosquitoes will be gone. Bug repellent and a tent or mosquito netting may still be necessary however.
Climate - The climate in Oregon varies greatly by region. The coastal region and the regions west of the Cascade Range are generally temperate and wet. Temperatures in the western portion of the state rarely rise above 85 degrees F during the warmest months and rarely dip below freezing during the winter.
The Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon leads through the Cascades, which receive high amounts of precipitation throughout the year. Conditions become more extreme the higher you climb. During the winter months, expect very heavy snow and cold temperatures. During the summer months be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms and chilly evening temperatures. Snow may be encountered on high country trails throughout the summer months.
The Oregon section of the PCT runs from near Siskiyou Summit to the Washington border.