backpack: Tenas Lakes

Located in the Mount Washington Wilderness in Central Oregon, Tenas Lakes are a group of subalpine lakes with rocky shorelines and blue-green water. We spent four days relaxing, swimming, and doing short exploration hikes in the area.

Day 1

hike in: 2.5 miles with 600 ft elevation gain

The drive from Portland takes just over 3 hours. We drove to Eugene and took Highway 126 to Highway 242, which is quite scenic as it winds its way up into the Cascades. We started our hike at the Benson Lake trailhead next to the campground at Scott Lake.

The hike is forested most of the way, and passes by Benson Lake after just 1.5 miles.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Benson Lake

We continued for another mile to the junction with Tenas Lakes to find a campsite.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

there are a lot of small marshy ponds in the area

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

bear grass blooms

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

our first view of Tenas Lakes

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

making our way around the lake to locate a campsite

 

Luckily, we had met two women in the parking lot who told us about the campsite they had just left and it was perfect for our group of four. To find it is not easy… the trail ends before reaching the camp area, and we went the wrong direction at least once before locating it. The campsite was perfect, with room for two tents on a high point above the lake, and two more tents fit in the trees just behind it.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

view from our campsite

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

my tent

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

access to the lake is over this rocky ridge and down a short trail

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

sunset at camp

Day 2

day hike to Scott Mountain: 4.4 miles with 500 ft elevation gain

The next day, we hiked to the top of Scott Mountain for panoramic views stretching from Mount Hood to Diamond Peak.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

view of Scott Mountain over one of the smaller Tenas Lakes

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Scotty Way trail junction

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Scott Mountain Trail

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

almost to the top

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, and The Husband

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and Mount Washington

After our hike, we swam in the lake and relaxed at camp. It’s nice to do a trip with a lot of down time. : )

Day 3

On our third day, we explored around the Tenas Lakes, starting from our camp to do a complete loop around the larger lake. We were also scouting for campsites for future trips to this area.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

After completing the loop around the larger lake, we explored the smaller of the three Tenas Lakes. One of them had a fun short scramble over a rocky ridge between two lakes.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

 

Back at camp, we went swimming again and did laundry.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

At sunset, I decided to explore more around our camp area and discovered a ridge with great views.

Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip Mount Washington Wilderness - Tenas Lakes backpack trip

 

Day 4

On our last day, we had breakfast and then packed up to hike out to the trailhead. I absolutely loved this area and hope to come back again in the fall.

, ,