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Best Oregon Adventure, Our Pacific Wonderland: Majestic Mountains, Mystical Waterfalls, Alpine Lakes

The striking alpenglow of dawn as it illuminates Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap with its rippled reflection in the mystical teal waters of Glacier Lake, high in the Wallowa Mountains. With the hefty minimum 30-mile backpack adventure, only the truly adventurous person would venture here to experience the majestic beauty, solitude, and natural wonder Oregon beholds.

Oregon has been known as the Pacific Wonderland since 1959 at the time of the state's centennial. What would inspire such an amazing name to be bestowed on a state? Could it be the enchanting waterfalls that captivate our senses flowing over mossy cliffs, the mist how it lingers in the fir trees as the sun peaks through branches, gently coating delicate wildflowers, dripping down maidenhair ferns and shrouding the mountains like clouds in the heavens or perhaps the alpenglow on the jagged peaks as they reflect in alpine lakes edged by boulders, meandering wildflowers, and drifts of snow that give such a sense of allure and mystery? As beauty is judged in the eye of the beholder, the places I will feature as the most wondrous mountains in Oregon are particularly dear to my heart. These jaw-dropping locations leave the beholder with a sense of adventure, inspiration, and tranquility. This section features our mystical majestic mountains, each with their own unique qualities including alpine lakes, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. The mountains I will feature are my favorites for one reason or another, as the best adventurous mountains in Oregon!

Eagle Cap with its perfect reflection in Mirror Lake in the Wallowa Mountains. A true "Pacific Wonderland" filled with a sense of adventure, mystery, and magnificence! A backpackers dream vista is the ultimate reward beheld only in tranquil conditions after a hard arduous journey.

There are numerous mountain ranges in Oregon: Cascades, Wallowas, Elkhorns, Steens, Blues, Strawberry, Owyhees, Klamath, Siskiyous, and the Coast Range. Each one has their individual charm. When most people think of Oregon, their thoughts naturally go to the iconic Mount Hood and Mount Mazama's Crater Lake (Oregon's first and only National Park until recent years). Although these two places are incredibly magnificent, they are very crowded. The national park goers simply come to Oregon to mark off another park off their list by going to Crater Lake with the impression that is all Oregon has to offer. Mount Hood is near Portland where travelers fly into PDX which drives its popularity. There are numerous ski lifts going up the mountain including one that extends to the Palmer Glacier for year-round skiing. Although this is great for the crowds with its easy access via places such as the grand Timberline Lodge where you can even stay the night featuring a hot tub, I like to get away from these areas that attract easy adventuring. Let's just face it when it comes to tranquility looking at an ugly ski lift just doesn't do it for me! I prefer the wilderness where the glaciers are not groomed, and I am not fighting for a seat on a ski lift to enjoy my adventures. I prefer using my own feet to reach my reward of mystical mountain vistas away from the crowds by hiking or sometimes backpacking to achieve this goal.

While describing the best adventurous mountains found in "Our Pacific Wonderland", I will work my way from west to east featuring a few of my favorite mountainous regions in Oregon: starting with the Coast Range; then proceeding with the Cascades with their stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, and a special crater; and then finally analyze a couple our eastern mountain ranges, the Strawberry Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains. There is a whirlwind of photographs taken by me to guide you on this peak into a hidden side of Oregon few people witness.

The Coast Range

Drift Creek Falls plunges over a basalt cliff as viewed from the suspension bridge.

One can only fathom the beauty and wonder to encounter along the Oregon Coast with its glorious Coast Range. Minus the occasional rocky overlook, the mountains are covered with temperate rain forest mixed with Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Bigleaf Maple, and Red Alder often draped with moss, lichen, and ferns. The forest floor is comprised of Salmonberries, Huckleberries, Lady Ferns, Sword Ferns, Salal, Devil's Club, Skunk Cabbage, Western White Trilliums, Fairy-slipper Orchids, Fawn Lilies, Columbia Lilies, and a carpet of moss. As weather systems often originate from the Pacific Ocean, the majority of precipitation falls on the Coast Range and along the Oregon Coast in the form of rain with the exception of some snow at the higher elevations in late autumn and winter. Between the snowmelt and rain, this makes for a plethora of wildflowers, lush foliage for abundant wildlife, clear river waters for fish, and a true wonderland of waterfalls. The Oregon coastline is very scenic with capes, heads, rock formations, sand dunes, sea stacks, sea caves, rock arches, tidepools, blow holes, and sandy beaches. Fishing, crabbing, clamming, surfing, and swimming are all popular sports here. Elk roam the hillsides and along rivers. There are elk refuges throughout the Coast Range. Agates and seashells are found along the beaches. Monumental viewpoints include places such as Cape Kiwanda, Proposal Rock, Saddle Mountain, Cascade Head, Mary's Peak, and Ecola State Park. As far as waterfalls there are numerous named waterfalls, such as Golden Falls, Silver Falls, Drift Creek Falls, Niagara, Young River Falls, and Munson Creek Falls. Lighthouses dot the coastline on heads and bluffs, which also includes the famous Tillamook Head Lighthouse which is out on a rock in the ocean. With so many amazing places to see, adventures are plentiful.

The exhilarating vista from Proposal Rock overlooking the beach at Neskowin at low tide.

Perfect for an adventure, this narrow 240 foot long suspension bridge overlooks 66 foot tall Drift Creek Falls in the central Oregon Coast Range.

At Cape Kiwanda, sandstone formations are ever changing with each crashing wave and breeze, as they are transformed into arches and caves, eventually into sand dunes and sandy beaches.

Niagara Falls in the northern Coast Range of Oregon is quite magnificent, as it plunges 107 feet over a basalt cliff.

Our dogs, (3/4 Australian Shepherd 1/4 Border Collie) brothers: Boomer, Blaze, and Knight thoroughly enjoying freedom of running and playing on the sandy beach with the gentle waves crashing behind them at Bayocean.

Cascade Head with the Salmon River as it flows into the Pacific Ocean.

Waves crash on rocks during a winter storm at Cape Kiwanda.

Pristine reflection of sea stacks in the slack water of an outgoing wave with gorse blooming on the hillside in Bandon.

Cascading Silver Falls in the southern Oregon Coast Range.

Like a bridal veil, Golden Falls cascades over a cliff in the southern Oregon Coast Range.

Sea stacks along the beach in Bandon at low tide.

Here I am, Misty enjoying the fabulous views on the headlands of Cape Kiwanda. The sand dunes are fun to climb and slide down. During the year whales can be spotted swimming by the point.

Mount Hood

Larkspur blooms on steep dry slopes high on Bald Mountain with Mount Hood in the distance.

Amongst the volcanic peaks of the Cascades, Mount Hood is a majestic mountain which stands alone regally over the Willamette Valley and Hood River Valley. It has numerous glaciers hanging from its lofty summit. In order to find serenity on Mount Hood one must travel by trail to the numerous vistas found on its many ridges and nearby hills. Although there are not very many high alpine lakes on the mountain, it makes up for it in gorgeous vantage points on wildflower strewn slopes and hanging valleys. Most notable are places such as Bald Mountain, Vista Ridge, Paradise Park, Elk Cove, Cairn Basin, Wyeast Basin, Eden Park, and the lofty Yocum Ridge. This mountain is so massive, the lakes are all at its base rather than in hanging valleys minus a few small tarns on ridges, which include Burnt Lake and Mirror Lake, reached by trail; the larger Lost Lake and Trillium Lake amongst others are reached by road most with campgrounds and resorts along their banks. Numerous waterfalls grace Mount Hood, but only Ramona Falls and Tamanawas Falls are truly noteworthy and do not include a view of the mountain. Ramona Falls is hidden in the trees and gently cascades down mossy rocks in the trees along the Timberline Trail. Tamanawas Falls is quite grand plunging waterfall in block form over a large cliff up a short trail on the east side of the mountain. The Columbia River Gorge at the northern boundary of the Cascades and the state of Oregon where it meets the deep canyon formed by the Columbia River known locally as the "Gorge" is just to the north of Mount Hood, where cascades pour over high cliffs from the mountains down to the Columbia River. This plethora of waterfalls includes the fabled Multnomah Falls, Triple Falls, Tunnel Falls, Horsetail Falls, Punchbowl Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Elowah Falls, Wahclella Falls, Oneonta Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Metlako Falls, Twister Falls, and Latourell Falls. Afterall, the Cascades Mountain Range was so named because of the numerous waterfalls cascading down the mountains. What a sight to behold for an explorer such as Lewis and Clark with Sacajawea, or an Oregon Trail Pioneer floating down the river! The headwaters of Hood River, Sandy River, Salmon River, and White River begin at Mount Hood. If you are looking for skiing or snowboarding, numerous ski lifts grace the south side of the mountain. For the more adventurous, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are good options in winter, spring, early summer, and late fall. The snow lingers here, so anticipate hiking high in the alpine regions primarily in late June, July, August, September, and early October or until the autumn snow starts. There still may be patchy snow in some regions in July especially on the north side of the mountain.

Mount Hood as viewed from Bald Mountain in evening light. The crevassed glaciers and jagged cliffs near the summit are quite daunting. As the tallest mountain in Oregon, Mount Hood is very popular for technical mountain climbers especially from Timberline Lodge which is the easier route since you can ride a ski lift much of the way up.

As a beam of light shines through the forest it creates a rainbow in the mist of Ramona Falls as it cascades down a mossy basalt cliff at the base of Mount Hood.

Mount Hood from Yocum Ridge on the northwest side of the mountain, after a long arduous hike in the autumn. Note: how the clouds shroud the lofty mountain top giving it a sense of mystery.

Snow lingers around Tamanawas Falls along North Fork Cold Spring Creek plunges 110 feet over a basalt cliff on the east side of Mount Hood.

Avalanche Lilies (Erythronium montanum) grace the slopes at Paradise Park in the summer on the southwest side of Mount Hood.

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is just to the north of Mount Hood. Multnomah Falls is Oregon's tallest waterfall at 620 feet tall and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States of America. There are many taller waterfalls in the nation in places such as Hawaii, Alaska, and California however at times some of these waterfalls are not flowing due to lack of rain, freezing or lack of snowmelt, and severe drought.

Mystical Latourell Falls plunges 224 feet over a lichen and palisade accentuated basalt cliff in the Columbia River Gorge.

Wahclella Falls is a tiered 350 foot waterfall which plunges over a basalt cliff then flows through a narrow chasm before dropping again into a punchbowl along Tanner Creek. The lower tier of the waterfalls drops 60 feet in height and is surrounded by quite a spectacular mossy basalt amphitheater. This waterfall is up a small side canyon in the Columbia River Gorge.

Horsetail Falls cascades 176 feet down a basalt cliff in the Columbia River Gorge. Quite a spectacular site along the historic highway.

Another beauty in the Columbia River Gorge is 75-foot-tall Ponytail Falls which plunges after cascading over a basalt cliff upstream and up a trail from Horsetail Falls. I love it when you can walk behind waterfalls and this one is remarkable with its cavern.

Another one of my favorite waterfalls, is the segmented 64 foot tall Triple Falls along Oneonta Creek, although the area has sustained some damage from the Eagle Creek Fire a few years ago, when children were playing with fireworks and started the devastating forest fire that severely damaged portions of the gorge. This waterfall is upstream of the famed Oneonta Gorge with its deep mossy slot canyon and at its head is Lower Oneonta Falls which I waded numerous times through water to see many years ago, being quite exhilarating on a 98-degree day. The Oneonta Gorge is closed currently because of erosion danger from the fire.

Misty standing with a maidenhair fern grotto surrounding the dark tunnel that goes behind Tunnel Falls on the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. This awesome trail travels cliffside through the Eagle Creek Gorge, so not for the faint of heart or anyone afraid of heights.

Fern Grotto surrounding the dark tunnel that goes behind Tunnel Falls.

An enchanting rainbow graces the mist below 172 foot Tunnel Falls along the Eagle Creek Trail. Note: the trail is about 2/3 up the waterfall, high on the mossy cliffs. A long day hike of 12 miles to see this beauty.

A wildflower garden on the west slopes of Mount Hood which includes Red Indian Paintbrush and White Avalanche Lilies. Avalanche Lilies get their nickname because they look like snowdrifts on the mountain when they are in bloom and also bloom just as the snow is melting.

Sun rays shine through fog rising from the snow in the forest along the Salmon River.

Mount Jefferson

The alpenglow falls on Mount Jefferson as it looms above Jefferson Park at sunset in late summer. Park Butte in the foreground with frozen Sprague Lake.

Mount Jefferson of the Central Cascades is the second highest peak in Oregon. As a mountain, I would have to say Mount Jefferson is one of my favorites in Oregon. Mount Jefferson is truly wondrous with its jagged summit and numerous crevassed glaciers. With picturesque lakes in hanging valleys surrounding the mountain, there are vistas galore here. Although some of the landscape near the mountain recently burnt in 2020, much is still untouched by fire. Pamelia Lake, Shale Lake, Jefferson Park (Russell Lake, Bays Lake, Scout Lake, Sprague Lake, Park Lake, Rock Lake), and Hunts Cove (Hunts Lake, Hanks Lake) are considered to be some of the premier backpacking destinations with their wildflowers and views of Mount Jefferson. Though farther from the mountain, Marion Lake, Carl Lake, and Jefferson Lake are also nice destinations. Near Marion Lake, are the almost double falls of Marion and Gatch Falls, which together plummet about 150 feet. Silver Creek Falls: North Falls, South Falls, Middle North Falls, Lower South Falls, Upper North Falls, Lower North Falls, Double Falls, Twin Falls, Drake Falls, and Frenchie Falls (as well as other three other small side waterfalls) flow through the park and are accessible via trail in the foothills between the Clackamas and Santiam Rivers. The Clackamas River and Santiam River generally originate near Mount Jefferson. For an exceptional experience, the lush mystical areas of the Mount Jefferson region are heavenly with carpets of mossy forest floors and wildflower meadows complete with cascading creeks and alpine lakes!

Mount Jefferson with Mountain Hemlock reflection in the captivating teal waters of Bays Lake at Jefferson Park. The deep cold waters of this lake are ideal for a cool plunge after a long day's hike. This hidden gem is off the beaten path.

Bear Grass along the shores of pristine Scout Lake at Jefferson Park with Mount Jefferson.

My son Jacob surrounded by a lupine meadow on Park Ridge with Mount Jefferson as a backdrop.

The mist from the enchanting Marion Falls fills the air creating the lush habitat for ferns and moss which surrounds this mystical waterfall that plunges over a basalt cliff downstream of Marion Lake to the southwest of Mount Jefferson. Standing at the base of this waterfall makes one feel as though they were in a fantasy world. With courage you can witness this beautiful hidden gem by scrambling down a hillside with the aid of roots and trees.

The lush moss and fern-lined Marion Falls (90 ft tall) and Gatch Falls (60 ft) along Marion Creek below Marion Lake hidden in the temperate rainforest of the Cascades in the foothills near Mount Jefferson. The scramble to this waterfall view is hair-raising to say the least, definitely not for those with a fear of heights.

My sons Jacob and Justin twenty years ago at the base of South Falls along South Silver Creek in autumn before they fenced off access to the pool. Note the trail is cut into the grotto behind the waterfall. The Civilian Conservation Corp built the lodge circa 1940 and much of the original trail system.

Feel the mist from behind 177 ft South Falls from the dizzying cliffside trail, which is in a large basalt grotto, with the bridge which crosses South Silver Creek in the distance.

North Falls (136 ft tall) in autumn along the North Fork of Silver Creek is where my parents were married on a chilly snowy December day in the cavern behind the waterfall. Here the Sword Fern fronds move with the windy mist caused from the thrust of the pounding waterfall.

Looking for adventure, look no further than 106 ft Middle North Falls where you can stand safely on a narrow trail a mere few feet behind a sheet of falling water and feel the refreshing mist coat you with a sense of freedom and ecstasy. Here moss and ferns hang from cliffs, trees, and grotto; salmonberries, thimbleberries, and huckleberries may grace you with their presence in summer.

The majestic Abiqua Falls plunges 92 feet over a basalt cliff with palisades lining the amphitheater, like a mythical organ in heaven. Moss clings to the rocks moistened by the mist from the thundering waterfall in the Cascade foothills. It is quite an adventure driving down the rugged 4x4 road to the trailhead, then the trail clings to rocks and heads down logs to beautiful Abiqua Creek. This gem is above Scotts Mills, in the area where I grew up.

Mount Jefferson vista from the south with mostly frozen Shale Lake in early summer.

Thunderheads build above Mount Jefferson as it is reflected in a mostly frozen Sprague Lake high on Park Ridge on a late July afternoon.

The icy crystal-clear waters of a mostly frozen Bays Lake with Mount Jefferson in early July. Snow can linger here until mid-July on high snowpack years.

Evening light illuminates Mount Jefferson whose lofty top echoes in a reflection in a partially frozen Sprague Lake on a late summer day.

The Three Sisters and Broken Top

Alpenglow of dawn illuminates South Sister "Charity" of the Three Sisters while it is reflected in the largest of the Green Lakes amidst a lush wildflower garden including lupine and monkeyflowers.

The glaciated peaks of the Three Sisters and Broken Top have their own volcanic wonderland with numerous lakes and meadows as well as slopes of lava, pumice, and obsidian. The Three Sisters are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest mountains in Oregon. Broken Top has a blown-out crater otherwise it would have been much taller, currently the 15th highest mountain in Oregon. They are members of the Cascade Range and are stratovolcanoes. Many adventures can be had by backpacking to hidden locales and climbing these peaks. Amongst the best locations in this vicinity are the Chambers Lakes, Moraine Lake, Green Lakes, No Name Lake, Obsidian Falls, Arrowhead Lake, Golden Lake, South Mathieu Lake, Proxy Falls, Linton Lake, Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, Eileen Lake, Collier Lake, and Crater Creek. The summits of each of these mountains afford tremendous vistas since the mountains are so close together. The McKenzie River and Deschutes River begin in this region. Although distant, views from McKenzie Pass have incredible views of the Three Sisters across the lava fields. I fell in love with my husband in this region. It is amazing!

North Sister "Faith" and Middle Sister "Hope" of the Three Sisters with a reflection in snow-edged Arrowhead Lake at sunset.

Indian Paintbrush with Broken Top and distant No Name Lake.

My sons Justin and Jacob years ago in a lupine meadow with Middle Sister along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Three Sisters with a tarn on the slopes of Broken Top.

The Chambers Lakes nestled below Middle and North Sisters from the summit of South Sister. Distant Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Hood in the distance.

My husband Ron, son Jacob, and dog Hunter years ago on the frozen portion of the Thayer Glacier Cirque Lake high on North Sister with the Thayer Glacier clinging to the mountain.

Broken Top with the turquoise No Name Lake formed from the Bend Glacier from Broken Hand. I first saw this lake while my husband and I were exploring. We had climbed the north side of the mountain, ascending the Bend Glacier to the saddle. Then we went across the glacier above No Name Lake which was mostly frozen with deep emerald waters glistening through the snow. This lake wasn't on maps back then, so we did not know of its existence. I thought it should be called Emerald Lake with its deep green glacial waters. We went back to find it later via the Tam MacArthur Rim Trail. It seems the lake can vastly change in color, deep green as I saw it was when it was fresh without heavy melting of the glacier, but more often a more turquoise tone from the glacial milk, and late in the season probably due to the erosion of rockslides sometimes brown. Now with the popularity of the internet, the secret is out, forcing a permit system and no camping along the lake shore. In this photo, Mount Bachelor is in the distance, known for its winter playground of skiing and snowboarding.

Having fun enjoying the views with a girlfriend on a pristine breezy long day hike to Broken Top via Tam MacArthur Rim and Broken Hand in late July. We hiked 15 miles or more that day. A few snowfields need to be crossed to achieve this view, but it is so worth the effort for an adventure of a lifetime.

Indian paintbrush with Broken Top and a glacial cirque lake high above No Name Lake and the Bend Glacier. Note: this photo is taken with an extremely wide-angle lens to be able to capture all of the beauty this region has to offer.

Within the crater of Broken Top, Misty, Jacob, and Boomer stand atop the toe of the Crook Glacier where Crater Creek starts to cascade down the slope.

High on Broken Top, Monkeyflowers grow in lava rock crevasses along Crater Creek as it cascades from the Crook Glacier deep in the eroded crater of Broken Top, whose summit spires loom above as if protecting the mountain.

The alpenglow of dawn falls on Broken Top as it looms over an iceberg floating in No Name Lake.

South Sister reflection in Moraine Lake with pumice slopes flowing from the mountain and nearby climbers' trail. This lake is quite refreshing before or after climbing the mountain especially if camping in the area.

Asters along the shoreline of Camp Lake with South Sister. This can be quite a notorious location with high wind as you can see with its waves upon the lake.

The upper Chambers Lakes "Sapphire and Iceberg" with South Sister high on a glacial moraine.

My husband Ron and sons Jacob and Justin high on Collier Glacier while climbing Middle Sister with North Sister in the foreground, as well as Mount Washington and Three Fingered Jack in the distance.

Three Sisters "Faith, Hope, and Charity" with Green Lakes and Golden Lake from the summit of Broken Top.

Moss and ferns line the canyon encompassing Sahalie Falls along the McKenzie River.

Tamolitch Pool "Blue Pool" along the McKenzie River amidst lava flows and a temperate conifer rainforest. During part of the year Tamolitch Falls plunges from this rocky cliff. Water percolates through the lava rock to the pool below where it emerges as springs at the base of the cliff.

Three Fingered Jack

Three Fingered Jack above the Jack Glacier and its cirque lake. Though mostly frozen in this photo taken in early summer, this is the headwaters of Canyon Creek which cascades down the glacial moraine into Canyon Creek Meadows.

Three Fingered Jack is an eroded shield volcano between Mount Jefferson and Mount Washington in the Cascades. There are a few nice trails in the area surrounding this peak. There are numerous lakes in the vicinity including the Seven Lakes Basin, Booth Lake, Martin Lake, Berley Lakes, Round Lake, Square Lake, and Wasco Lake, with Santiam Lake affording the best overall views of the peak aside from being on the east side of the mountain above wildflower blanketed Canyon Creek Meadows where you can climb up alongside the Jack Glacier and its cirque lake on the shoulder of the mountain. Amazing views of the Cascades and down to First Creek are found from the shoulder. The reintroduced mountain goats in this area make for some great wildlife viewing if you can spot them as they climb the cliffs. The North Fork Santiam River and Metolius River begin from the base of Three Fingered Jack.

Our Schulz Family amongst the wild flowered banks of First Creek with Three Fingered Jack in the background.

Three Fingered Jack looms majestically over the lush wildflower carpeted Lower Canyon Creek Meadows with the pristinely clear waters of Canyon Creek.

The Jack Glacier clings to the high slopes below the east face of Three Fingered Jack, with the milky aqua Jack Glacier Cirque Lake from the moraine. This lake is the headwaters of Canyon Creek.

Blaze and Knight, our dogs when they were puppies, along the shore of Santiam Lake with a lovely view of Three Fingered Jack. This lake is the headwaters of the North Santiam River.

Three Fingered Jack looms above the upper lupine-strewn slopes of the Canyon Creek Meadows.

The east face of Three Fingered Jack taken from its shoulder above First Creek and Canyon Creek Meadows. The views from here are incredible! You can see the nearby lakes, meadows, mountain goats, and the distant peaks of: Mount Washington and Three Sisters to the south; Mount Jefferson to the north.

Summit spires viewed from the south side of Three Fingered Jack. Near the summit, the narrow climbers trail with 1,000+ foot cliffs on either side are daunting. This proved to be too much for our puppy, whom was accompanying my husband and I on our journey.

Mount Washington

The east face of Mount Washington from the ridge above George Lake. Notice the spire in the center is reminiscent of the Grand Teton in Wyoming.

Mount Washington is another shield volcano. I consider this mountain to be the "Grand Teton of the Cascades" with its summit spire jutting up so abruptly and grand. It is best viewed from Santiam Pass, Windy Ridge at McKenzie Pass, and atop ridges of other mountains. Before the George Lake Fire years ago, I ventured to find the best views of this mountain by trail and exploration. I saw it from Patjen Lakes and along the Pacific Crest Trail, however neither view did justice for the mountain. I had hopes of capturing a photo of it with George Lake but come to find out, that lake was surrounded by trees. I climbed a nearby ridge and saw an inspiring view of its southeast face. It was truly spectacular! Other exceptional distant views of this mountain are from the ridges and summits of Three Fingered Jack, North Sister, and Middle Sister. The mountain is also visible from near the town of Sisters and along the misery ridge trail atop Smith Rock. Suttle Lake and Big Lake are nearby destinations by road with campgrounds and a resort. Hoodoo affords nearby skiing and tubing experiences. Other than the few lakes in the area, the region surrounding Mount Washington is quite dry with very few creeks. Knowing this is important, as there is no dependable water sources along the Pacific Crest Trail when in close proximity to Mount Washington. My husband and I melted snow just to have water when we hiked to George Lake across the lava fields from the McKenzie Pass. Capturing the unique shape of the mountain was still worth the effort.

Peaks left to right: Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mount Jefferson from Arrowhead Lake on a slope of Middle Sister at sunset.

Mount Thielsen

The east face of Mount Thielsen with its glacier from high above Thielsen Creek Meadows.

Mount Thielsen is known as the "Lightning Rod" of the Cascades and is another example of a shield volcano similar to Three Fingered Jack. There is a trail that goes almost to the summit, which can be achieved with some scrambling involved. This mountain is best viewed from Tipsoo Peak, Thielsen Creek Meadows, Diamond Lake, and distantly from Crater Lake. Thielsen Creek flows from the glacier below its east face down a steep slope edged with monkeyflowers in summer. Then the creek continues through the immensely picturesque rocky, narrow canyon of the upper meadows and calmly meanders amidst wildflowers in the lower meadows. From the south side of Crater Lake, views of pointy Mount Thielsen are spectacular. You can definitely see how it gets its name. The North Umpqua River begins its journey in the region at Maidu Lake, from here the river flows through lakes and over numerous waterfalls. The most spectacular of these waterfalls are Toketee Falls and Lemolo Falls. Miller Lake is also near Mount Thielsen.

Thielsen Creek flowing through the Upper Thielsen Creek Meadows with Mount Thielsen in the morning light of autumn. The moraine in the distance is the one I climbed to the glacier that day.

The steep slope up to the glacier on Mount Thielsen. The creek was edged by monkeyflowers, though most were finished blooming by late September. It was much easier climbing up this creek, as descending was quite tedious. The views were incredible!

The horsetail waterfall of Lemolo Falls along the North Umpqua River.

Mount Mazama and Crater Lake

Mount Thielsen looms in the distance with the "volcanic plug" island of Phantom Ship in Crater Lake viewed from the rim of Mount Mazama in autumn.

Crater Lake is in the southern Oregon Cascades. It is the deepest lake in the United States of America and seventh deepest lake in the world at the depth of 1,943 feet. Crater Lake was the first National Park in Oregon. It can be reached year-round but can only be driven around in summer and autumn months.

A lovely vista of Wizard Island with Crater Lake within the volcanic crater of Mount Mazama in summer. Note: the foreground is a snowfield dusted with lava rock. Snow lingers here until midsummer.

The Strawberry Mountains

Strawberry Mountain in the morning light with Strawberry Lake in late summer.

The Strawberry Mountains are in eastern Oregon near the town of Prairie City. If Strawberry Mountains didn't sound enticing enough, these rugged peaks have lovely red rock striations running through their rocky cliffs. Strawberry Mountain is the jewel of these peaks but if you search beyond Strawberry Lake you will come to a wilder region filled with enchantment. Along the journey make a pitstop to admire Strawberry Falls, whose attractive cascade is quite refreshing. Next up the valley is Little Strawberry Lake which I found to be perfect for adventuring and solitude. Mountain goats climbed on the cliffs near the lake as I searched for the most picturesque vantage points along the shore. This lake offers a tranquil place to relax without the crowds.

Strawberry Falls delivers a misty refreshing shower as it cascades down a mossy cliff.

Deep in the Strawberry Mountains is the lovely Little Strawberry Lake in late summer.

The colorful Strawberry Mountains with the alpine gem, Little Strawberry Lake, whose rocky slopes and cliffs roam the mountain goats.

Little Strawberry Lake in the Strawberry Mountains in eastern Oregon.

Steens Mountain

Sunflowers bloom near Mann Lake at the base of the Steens Mountain.

The Steens Mountain are a large fault-block mountain in the high desert of southeastern Oregon. It rises above the Alvord Desert. Hot Springs dot the desert landscape as well as Mann Lake. Pike Creek forms a canyon where a mine shaft echoes the past. High on the cliffs are bighorn sheep. Wild horses roam freely in the Steens. Thundereggs can be found on the slopes in undisclosed locations. From the summit views extend down to Wildhorse Lake where the rare Lahontan Cutthroat Trout are found living in this lake.

Glacier Peak, Eagle Cap, and Matterhorn of the Wallowa Mountains

The alpenglow illuminates Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap as they are reflected in Glacier Lake at sunrise.

In the heart of the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness are the mountains of Glacier Peak, Eagle Cap, and Matterhorn. The Wallowa Mountains are known as the "Alps of Oregon", found in the far northeast corner of the state near the Blue Mountains and the Snake River. Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap are comprised of a striking white granite with quartzite and marble. Matterhorn is comprised of limestone, which appears as white and gray marble. Though this region of the Wallowas has basalt present, the peaks are not volcanoes like the Cascades. The valleys were formed by glaciers, leaving lovely alpine lakes scattered throughout the mountains. The views are spectacular here! I am a bit of an adventurer not following the beaten track and have explored the region on many backpacking trips including mountain climbing. Alpine lakes, clear creeks, mountain vistas, wildflowers, and wildlife have all caught my eye over the years. In autumn the larches are golden around Horseshoe Lake and Six Mile Meadow. I had interesting encounters with bears, wolves, and mountain goats on numerous trips. With such varied terrain and long distances from trailheads, backpacking is the only way to enjoy the area. You can find solitude in this region; however, it is popular for horseback riding, and you may even see llamas join you on the trails. By far this is my favorite secluded wild place in Oregon!

The deep sapphire blue waters of Ice Lake reflecting Matterhorn.

The hidden gem of cobalt blue Prospect Lake with reflection of the morning light as it illuminates the white granite mountain of Glacier Peak.

Glorious crisp morning light falls on a freshly powdered Eagle Cap as it is mirror reflected in Moccasin Lake in late summer.

Here I am amongst heather along the wildflower-edged Prospect Lake shoreline with a reflection of Glacier Peak. This deep azure blue lake is home to Brook Trout and Rainbow Trout. My husband caught and released a 23-inch Rainbow from this lake one year. Falcons swoop down to catch fish in recent years. Bighorn sheep are high on the ridges above the lake in late summer.

Calochortus eurycarpus White Mariposa Lily is found high on slopes in the alpine regions of the Wallowa Mountains.

Reflection of Glacier Peak in Upper Glacier Lake.

Wildflowers amidst the shores of Glacier Lake with Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap.

The promise of hope during a mystical dawn filled with intrigue, as the alpenglow illuminates a newly snow dusted Eagle Cap through the clouds with a mirrored reflection in Moccasin Lake where a 300 lb bear was catching a trout just before dawn in my foreground as I watched the sky transition from stars to sunlight. This scene is brought to you from the eye of an adventure photographer who was out in the snow in sandals in 20-degree weather because my wet hiking boots were froze solid. It had snowed for a day and a half when the snow finally started to melt on a cold late summer day.

Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap from Prospect Pass overlooking Glacier Lakes.

Ice Lake from the Matterhorn Climbers Trail.

Mountain Goats high on the grassy slopes of Matterhorn.

Dawn Lake high on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Heart-shaped Glacier Lake and Glacier Peak from Eagle Cap Summit at sunset.

Sapphire blue Prospect Lake and jewel-toned Granite Lake from the lofty granite-slabbed slopes of Glacier Peak.

Eagle Cap Reflection in Moccasin Lake.

Island of pine trees surrounded by the teal waters of Glacier Lake with reflection of Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap.

Cool blue waters of treasured Prospect Lake with the grandeur of Glacier Peak. Only the rugged adventurers make it to this hidden beauty as there are no trails here.

Razz Notch (the dangerous trailless route to Ice Lake Valley and nearby Matterhorn) looms above teal Razz Lake which is high above Horseshoe Lake only found by exploration. Note: this route is tempting as it is quite a shortcut to Ice Lake from the Lakes Basin, as if this side isn't daunting enough, the other side is literally a dangerous rock chute below a rocky cliff ready to eject rocks. Razz Lake is a worthy destination in itself.

Craig Mountain reflected in the deep blue waters of Ice Lake along the trail to Matterhorn.

Glacier Peak with the tranquil waters of Prospect Lake.

Alpenglow highlights Eagle Cap at sunset as it is reflected in Mirror Lake.

Views of Glacier Lake and Glacier Peak from Glacier Pass with Jacob and Misty Schulz.

Misty enjoying tranquility and solitude on a log with Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap mirrored in Upper Glacier Lake high in the Wallowa Mountains.

My name is Misty Dawn Schulz of Schulz Guided Cascadian Wilderness Adventures and Photography. We offer guided hikes and backpacking adventures in Oregon. These lovely mountains are a taste of Oregon and represent some of my favorite locations featuring mountains and alpine lakes. To me, Oregon is where I call my birthplace, my home, and is truly a Pacific Wonderland. The photographs featured in this blog are taken by myself and are available for purchase by contacting me at:

Let us personally show you the hidden beauty of Oregon on your next adventure with us!

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