Description - Nearly 200,000 acres of the Three Sisters Wilderness consist of forests and woodlands. On the west side, in the lower elevations, you will find stands of Douglas fir. At higher elevations, on both sides of the Cascade crest, stands of mountain hemlock and lodgepole pine are common. The sparse vegetation at many of the high mountain lakes have resulted in managers implementing campfire and camping restrictions. When collecting wood for campfires, please choose only the fallen branches and trees on the ground.
Alpine meadows in the Three Sisters Wilderness contain a wide array of wildflowers during the short summer growing season. A few of the flowers you might see include blue lupine, red Indian paintbrush, white avalanche lily, red elephant head, larkspur, and bluebells. Please leave all flowers as they are. Cutting live plants can cause irreparable harm to the primitive of the wilderness. Because of heavy snowfall in the winter and spring months, trails in the wilderness can be blocked with snowbanks throughout June and early July. The hiking season usually extends from July 1 to October 1. Plan on packing several layers of clothing as the weather can change rapidly. Be prepared for rain and cool temperatures, especially at night.
- The dominant figures in this wilderness, the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain exemplify the changes glaciers and time can bring to a volcano. The oldest of the four peaks, North Sister and Broken Top have both been severely eroded by glaciers. These two peaks form a sharp contrast to South Sister, the youngest of the four, which, because of light erosion, still retains its original conical shape. All four of these peaks are popular with mountain climbers. Difficulty levels vary, but with any of these mountains, first-time climbers should join a party led by an experienced guide. Other peaks and cones in the area include The Husband, The Wife, and Tipsoo Butte to name just a few.
There are approximately 260 miles of trail within the wilderness. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness for 40 miles. Most trails entering the wilderness begin in dense forests of Douglas-fir on the western slopes of the Cascades and ponderosa pine on the eastern slopes.
Total Area: 285,192 acres. Elevation Range: 2,000 ft - 10,358 ft.
Recreation - Hikers and horseback riders can choose from approximately 433 miles of trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Trailheads are located on all sides of the wilderness, in both the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. All of the trails are clearly marked on the Three Sisters Wilderness map published by GEOGRAPHICS Inc. Over 42 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail extend through the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail enters the wilderness in the south at Irish and Taylor Lakes and exits the area in the north near Dee Wright Observatory. This trail is easy to follow and regularly maintained during hiking season
Climate - With its huge elevation range, climate on the Deschutes changes drastically depending on elevation. The high elevations receive much more precipitation and colder temperatures. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April, mostly in the form of snow in the higher elevations. Winter temperatures can drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days, with warm to hot temperatures at the low elevations and moderate temperatures at the higher elevations. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon.
Three Sisters Wilderness is located to the west of Bend, Oregon on the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. Three Sisters Wilderness can be reached from the Willamette Valley by the Old McKenzie Highway (State 242) and from Central Oregon by the Cascade Lakes Highway (State 46) and by various forest roads (19, 2643, 1957, 1993). Many trailheads access the wilderness.