backpack: Jefferson Park
On this two night backpacking trip in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, we hiked in via the Whitewater Trail and camped at Rock Lake.
- distance & elevation gain to Rock Lake campsite: 6 miles, 1,800 ft. gain
- day hike options: explore the many lakes in Jefferson Park
- best months: mid-July to September
- location: Mount Jefferson Wilderness; nearest town: Detroit
- land management: Willamette National Forest: Detroit Ranger District
- trail conditions: Jefferson Park area
- hike description: OregonHikers.org – Jefferson Park
- permits: Central Cascades wilderness permits are required for all backcountry campsites
- trailhead pass: NW Forest Pass required
- notes: the 2017 Whitewater and 2020 Lionshead wildfires heavily impacted trail access into Jefferson Park and most of the trails that provide access are closed. Check current conditions before planning a trip here.
Day 1: hike in to camp at Rock Lake
6 miles, 1,800 ft. gain
We hiked in via the Whitewater Trail to the PCT, then into Jefferson Park.
Our campsite was at Rock Lake, which we had all to ourselves the first night. When we arrived at our campsite, we met three very nice guys (hello Gary, Alan and Dave!). We had been warned that the mosquitos were terrible, so we were prepared for the worst. Fortunately, they really weren’t that bad. I sprayed my clothing with Sawyer Permethrin and used Sawyer Picardin on my body… and it worked! Only two bites.
Day 2: exploring Jefferson Park
4.7 miles with 600 ft gain + about 2 miles in the evening
We explored the Jefferson Park area, beginning at the PCT and heading north to Russell Lake.
We then hiked south to the junction for Park Lake and the South Fork Breitenbush River. Both sides of the river were literally covered with wildflowers.
After exploring this area and having lunch by the river, we continued back to the PCT and south to Scout Lake and Bays Lake.
In the evening, we did a short hike to take photos at dusk, my favorite time of day to be running around with a camera in my hand.
Day 3: hike out to the trailhead
about 6 miles with 1,800 ft. elevation loss