Hike 89
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Olallie Lake North Basin Hike
( Lower Lake, Fish Lake, Gifford Lake, Finley Lake, Sheep Lake )
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Map of the Olallie Lake North Basin

Length: 10 mi RT
Elevation Change: 1100' gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:    Challenging
Permit: NW Forest Pass Not Required


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

This is the only hike that I include on this CD that we used a GPS to find the small unnamed lakes that have no trails to them. To find the many small ponds and lakes within the trail circle indicated on the above map, one must have a GPS system that has a reliable topo map in it. If on the other hand, you don't have a GPS, or choose not to venture out in unmarked territory, this hike is still a fantastic adventure. If you just stay on the main trails and even include Fish Lake, the whole loop, including the walk back on the road, is less than 8 miles.

I began the hike at the Lower Lake trailhead, and hiked the loop counterclockwise. The entire trail is in very good condition and there are no significant streams or such obstacles to endure. Hiking along Trail #717, it is only a mere half mile hike to Lower Lake. The trail skirts the east and north side of the lake. Then you come to a junction with Trail #706.

It is at this point you can either bear left onto Trail #706 and continue the loop around this lake basin, or you can continue following Trail #717 another .7 mile to Fish Lake. Even if you only hike to the overlook where you can see Fish Lake below and Sisi Butte in the distance. Then return to the junction of Trail #706 and head west about another mile to Middle Lake. It was here that we got out our GPS unit and bushwhacked our way to a number of the smaller lakes within the loop.

Finley Lake and Gifford Lakes are outstanding small lakes. But then, as you can see by the mouse-over images on the above map, many of the smaller unnamed lakes are well worth the effort to reach. Do not attempt hiking to these lakes if you do not have experience following GPS navigation from way point to way point. Much of the areas between these small lakes is densely forested and quite brushy in places. And there are cliffs hidden within the forest that could easily get you in trouble.

After we explored the various lakes we made our way back to Middle Lake and picked up Trail #706 and continued west to the junction with Trail #719 near Fork Lake. It is less than a half mile to Sheep Lake if you'd like to take the time to explore to the west. You could climb Potato Butte while you are there (see Hike 88). Whatever you decide, make your way back the junction of Trails #706 and #719 and head southeast on Trail #719.

The trail climbs for the next half mile or so and levels out at a small pond, before heading back downhill to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. When you reach the PCT, bear to the left and head east back toward Forest Road 4220. Soon the trail is following a ridge which allows you great views to the southeast and south toward Mt. Jefferson. About a mile along this part of the trail we used our GPS to give us a bearing on our vehicle which we left at the Lower Lake Trailhead.

So, we chose to go off trail and bushwhack our way past several more small unnamed lakes to the trailhead where we began this adventure. Again, be absolutely sure you know what you are doing if you also choose this option. There is a significant cliff along the way that you will have to negotiate, but other than that, it is just very brushy.

Or, you can just continue along the PCT to Forest Road 4220 and walk the road back to the Lower Lake trailhead where you began. This is one of many beautiful lake basins nestled in the forests of the Olallie Lake Scenic Area .

Olallie Butte from Lower Lake
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

Drive southeast out of Estacada on Hwy 224 for about 25 miles, until you pass the Ripplebrook Ranger Station and the road bends to the right and is renamed Forest Road 46. Continue south on FR 46 for about another 21.7 miles to the junction of Forest Road 4690.

Conveniently, they have written Olallie in yellow lettering right on the pavement, so it is kinda hard to miss this intersection. Follow FR 4690 for about 5.9 miles until it meets Forest Road 4220. Bear right and follow FR 4220 for about another 4.5 miles to the Lower Lake Campground. Turn into the campground and find the trailhead parking area.

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