Bend has an iconic landscape, which includes the volcanic monuments known as the Three Sisters. North, Middle and South Sister—also referred to as Faith, Hope and Charity—fill our western horizon and are seemingly within arms reach. Access points to the Three Sisters are sparse, however, as they lie in the designated Three Sisters Wilderness area. But whether you desire a day hike, backpacking trip, or mountaineering objective, the Pole Creek Trailhead makes access one step easier. Located a few klicks outside of the town of Sisters and nestled high on the northeastern flanks of North Sister, you'll find a trailhead less travelled.
FIND IT: Chambers, Camp and Demaris Lakes are great on-trail goals from Pole Creek. For those who like to travel off the beaten path, the headwaters of Soap and Whychus Creeks make good targets. The Pole Creek Fire burned nearly 41 square miles in 2012, but nature is rebuilding and much of the forest survived. Take Hwy. 20 to Sisters, following the signs for McKenzie Pass on Hwy. 242, then look for the sign to Pole Creek trailhead approximately 1.5 miles after entering Hwy. 242. Roll past the end of the paved road and on a long stretch of gravel that leads you south for 10 miles on Forest Service Road 15. Park (Annual Recreation Pass or $5 Day Fee required) and fill out a mandatory, free Wilderness Permit. Keep your camera on and put one foot in front of the other.
COMMITMENT LEVEL: Half day to multiple day possibilities.
SWEAT LEVEL: Easy to moderate.
STOKE LEVEL: Moderate to off the charts.