The Mount Jefferson Wilderness is on and around Mount Jefferson in the central Cascade Range of Oregon. The wilderness lies within the Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest. The Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area covers 111,177 acres, with more than 150 lakes, many stocked with trout. It also has 190 miles of trails, including 40 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson are prominent features of the wilderness area. Mt. Jefferson’s slopes are mantled by five glaciers: Whitewater, Waldo, Milk Creek, Russell, and Jefferson Park. Other geographic features include steep talus slopes, rock outcrops, and alpine meadows. The trails are predominantly on the west face of the mountain. The Warm Springs reservation covers the east side of Mt. Jefferson.
Vegetation is predominantly Douglas fir, silver fir, sub-alpine fir, mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, several species of cedar, and species like vine maple, huckleberry, and rhododendron.
Visitors to the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit for all overnight use and some day use between June 15 and Oct. 15. Permits can be reserved on Recreation.gov beginning the first Tuesday of April every year. For day use in these wildernesses on the 60 trails that do not require a permit, visitors will need to obtain a free self-issued permit at those trailheads.
Many roads accessing the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area are closed due to Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fires’ closure. See the map of Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fire closure area.
Check with the ranger for trail conditions.
Detroit Ranger District
44125 North Santiam Highway SE
Detroit, OR 97342
The Breitenbush Hot Springs is a great place to stay or visit just west of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
Mt. Jefferson Trail Runs
The Mount Jefferson Wilderness is great for trail running, with stunning scenery, challenging trails, and plenty of solitude. Here are a few of the best trail running trails in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness:
Jefferson Park from Whitewater Trailhead is a 10-12 mile out and back with amazing views of Mount Jefferson’s glaciers, multiple lakes, and meadows.
The Three Fingered Jack circumnavigation is one of the best volcano loops in the Cascade Mountain Range.
The 16-mile Marion Lake Loop offers exceptional views of the mountain and lakes in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
Pamelia Lake and Hunt’s Cove are among the most popular hiking areas in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. An 18-mile loop using Hunt’s Creek and the PCT follow bubbling creeks and skyline views of mountains and lakes.
These are just a few wonderful trail running trails in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. No matter what your skill level or experience, you’re sure to find a trail that’s perfect for you.
Mt. Jefferson Trail Races
There are no races in wilderness areas. However, there are races close enough to have views of Mt. Jefferson.
Mountain Lakes 100 from Go Beyond Racing starts and finishes at Ollalie Lake. The first 12 miles of this 100-mile race border the Northern end of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
On the southern end of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness is the Hoodoo Challenge: Run to the Top. The 5k and Half Marathon uses trails around Hoodoo Ski Resort.
Mt. Jefferson Trail Running Groups
Mt. Jefferson sits along the Santiam Pass, about halfway between Salem and Bend. Salem Trail Runners is a Facebook group dedicated to running trails in the Salem area. Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK) in Bend has weekly and weekend runs along the trails in the area.
The fires destroyed the closest town of Detroit, and many businesses couldn’t recover. Rosie’s Mountain Coffee House in Mill City and Canyon Espresso in Gates are the closest coffee shops west of the area. Sisters Coffee is well known for its excellent java blends at its roastery and shop in Sisters.
Snow Peak Brewing in Stayton is the closest brewery west of Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area. Enjoy local brews and food cart grub after a long trail day.
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