Backpacker - - The Mountain Issue -

LESSER KNOWN THAN the Timberline Trail, but no less grand—that’s the beauty of this loop around the North, Mid­dle, and South Sis­ters. The un­der­rated cir­cuit takes you through moss-crusted forests of lodge­pole pine with peek­a­boo looks at the rocky hulks of Cas­cade vol­ca­noes, to­tal­ing only 7,000 feet of el­e­va­tion gain in 48 easy­breezy miles. Take it slow, sa­vor­ing lake­side camp­sites that seem to float be­low the trio of glacier-man­tled, 10,000-foot peaks.

From the Lava Camp Lake trail­head, fol­low the Pa­cific Crest Trail 2.3 miles south be­fore bear­ing east onto the Scott Pass Trail, which twists through mead­ows with views of North Sis­ter. Peel onto the Green Lakes Trail to land a camp­site near Squaw Creek be­neath Mid­dle and South Sis­ters at mile 11.5. Next day, climb to 7,000-foot Green Lakes Pass (mile 17.5), nes­tled be­tween South Sis­ter and 9,175foot Bro­ken Top, a sep­a­rate vol­cano that doesn’t get to be part of the fam­ily but should. At mile 21.6, veer onto the Mo­raine Lake Trail to camp be­side the route’s qui­etest pool at mile 23. Next morn­ing, cross

Wick­iup Plain around domed South Sis­ter and link back up with the PCT at mile 27. Pass black ob­sid­ian hill­sides on the way to Glacier Creek (mile 38) for your last night, then close the cir­cuit around North Sis­ter and its re­ced­ing Col­lier Glacier.

Trail­head Lava Camp Lake Sea­son June to Septem­ber Per­mits Re­quired: North­west For­est Pass ($30; store­est-pass); Ob­sid­ian Lim­ited En­try Area ($10; recre­; and wilder­ness (free; self-is­sue at trail­head). Climb South Sis­ter South Ridge (class 3); gain 5,000 feet in 5.8 miles from Devils Lake trail­head Con­tact

From Opie Dill­dock Pass (mile 40), take a short spur to Col­lier Cone for this view of North (left) and Mid­dle Sis­ters.

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