Guide to Backpacking in Oregon


When it comes to beautiful landscapes and sceneries, the state of Oregon is one of the most abundant in them in the United States of America. While many people who’ve never been to Oregon are only familiar with the city of Portland or the majestic Crater Lake, there are a lot more locations that Oregon has to offer than just these tourist spots.

Oregon is all about exploring the great outdoors, and what better way to experience this than by backpacking with all your essential outdoor gear.

Be sure to bring the following before you start your backpacking journey:

  • tent
  • hiking boots 
  • a good supply of food 
  • a water bottle 
  • small kitchen utensils 
  • portable gas stove 
  • sleeping bag
  • first-aid kit
  • extra clothes
  • a smartphone
  • a budget for lodging, transportation, or for buying extra food supplies

Finally, here are some stunning locations in Oregon that will surely take your breath away and make your trip worth it.

Mount Hood

The highest point in Oregon at 11,249 feet, Mount Hood is known for its six ski areas, namely Ski Bowl, Mount Hood Meadows, Cooper Spur, Summit, Snow Bunny, and Timberline. 

Timberline is even more famous because of its lodge, the Timberline Lodge since it was the setting for the exterior shots in Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining. Named the Overlook Hotel in the movie, fans of Kubrick have frequently visited and stayed in the Timberline Lodge to get the experience of living in one of The Shining’s movie sets.

Around two million people stay at the lodge yearly, and this happens not only because of the publicity that The Shining brought to the inn, but because it is open every month of the year.

Besides its skiing area, Timberline also has the Timberline Trail where hikers can circumnavigate the entire mountain and enjoy its beauty. A part of this 65.5 km trail connects to the Pacific Crest Trail which extends from Washington to California. Be sure to get a hiking permit first at the trailhead before you go hiking.

While you are on the Timberline Trail, you will also be able to see the Cloud Cap Inn, the oldest building on Mount Hood located in the northeast. Unfortunately, the historic inn closed in 1946, but the people on the mountain are preserving what’s left of it as a hiking attraction.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Located at the foothills of Mount Hood is Mirror Lake; famous for giving the perfect reflection of Mount Hood on its crystal clear waters. 

Hiking the 4.4-mile trail in Mirror Lake not only offers the gorgeous view of Mount Hood but the magnificent scenery of the Tom Dick and Harry Mountain as well. This strangely named mountain was first called “Tom Dick Mountain” in 1897, but the Board of Geographic Names official gave it the name “Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain” as a nod to the phrase “Tom, Dick and Harry,” a placeholder which basically means “everyone or anyone” in a sentence.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

As previously stated, Crater Lake is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oregon. But your Oregon trip will not be complete if you have not visited this gorgeous lake.

Formed from the remnants of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake has a caldera (a bowl-like hole at the center of a collapsed volcano) that is approximately 1,949 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the USA. While there are no rivers or any body of water connecting the lake to the sea, the crystal clear water from Crater Lake is formed and naturally maintained through years of rain, snowfall, and evaporation.

Crater Lake has six popular trails which are at the Cleetwood Cove, Garfield Peak, the Lightning Spring, the Watchman, the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden, and the Plaikni Falls.

Beginners should start at the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden since it is the shortest trail at only 800 meters (1/2 mile). The trail offers a stunning view of meadows filled with wildflowers during the spring season.

For experienced hikers, they should take on the Garfield Peak trail, which is the longest trail at 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles). Reaching Garfield Peak through this trail gives hikers a great view of Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone that formed at the western part of Crater Lake. Wizard Island is open by tourists only during the summer season since this is the only time where the boats on the lake can be fully operational.

An American journalist named William Gladstone Steel gave the cinder cone its original name “Witches’ Cauldron” in 1885 as well as its current name. Steel also tirelessly campaigned to deem Crater Lake as a national park. 

Crate Lake was finally established as a national park in 1902, making it the only national park in Oregon and the fifth oldest in the country.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

Located near the center of Oregon, the Three Sisters are three volcanoes relatively close to each other. Each of these volcanoes is approximately more than 10,000 feet tall, making them three of the highest peaks in Oregon.

The south sister is the most popular of them all due to having spots for scrambling or rock climbing. While the south is a famous tourist attraction, the opposite can be said about the north sister, since it is the most dangerous to climb because of the constant rockfall and erosion in the mountain.

The mountain to the south also offers a trail that reaches up to its peak. This 20.3 km (12.6 miles) trail is hiked by more than 400 people a day.

There is also another trail called the Three Sisters Loops which goes around the three mountains. This trail is about 77.4 kilometers (48.1 miles) long, so you may need at least four to six days to fully hike the area.

Also, the previously mentioned Pacific Crest Trail connects to the Three Sisters. So for those who want an even harder hiking challenge, they may want to go from Mount Hood to the Three Sisters.

Owyhee Canyonlands

Owyhee Canyonlands

The Owyhee Canyonlands’s golden cliffs are probably some of the most impressive-looking rock formations in the country. The rocks on these cliffs contain rhyolite and volcanic tuff which contribute to their reddish or yellowish color. It is also important to note that centuries of water flow from the Owyhee River formed these striking cliffs.

The trail in the Canyonlands is difficult to hike due to its ruggedness, but reaching the end of the trail is worth it since it provides the best view of the Owyhee Canyonlands.

There are many more locations to go in Oregon such as Astoria and Bend, but some areas on the list are the most accessible and the least populated out of all the tourist spots in Oregon. 

Keep in mind that whichever area in Oregon you may go; you must never leave a trace of your hike on the trail. It is essential to maintain the beauty of these locations, and you must do your part by practicing proper hiking etiquette by not littering and respecting the cleanliness of these areas.


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