Our first day together we tackled the Sparks Lake Loop Trail which took us through forests and around ancient lava flows. While the remains of the lava flows were fascinating, the views from the shoreline were the high point.
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“Like scoops in the world's largest sundae,” the Three Sisters “are served up as the centerpiece of the state's most visited wilderness,” writes William L. Sullivan.
Just west of Bend, Oregon, the three 10,000-foot peaks and many lakes offer a plethora of outdoor activities. Sullivan's book, Oregon Trips and Trails, highlights more than 30 pages of things to do in the area.
After coffee in the Western-theme town of Sisters, we drove about 18 miles south to hike the Tam McArthur Rim, which offers a view of the three siblings from a plateau at about 7,800 feet. The trailhead is at Three Creek Lake, perched at more than 6,500 feet next to 500-foot cliffs.
The last few miles of the drive are on a gravel road. You'll need a $5 Northwest Forest Pass, available at Forest Service offices and outdoor stores, to park.
Sullivan rates the five-mile trek “difficult,” with more than 1,200 feet of elevation gain. There are some steep switchbacks, but the trail is clearly marked and the view from the end is worth every step.
If you are campers, there are two picturesque National Forest campgrounds next to the lake, nestled in the trees. There were even a few small RVs that made the trip.
One thing for sure: We will return to the area to enjoy more trekking and the city of Bend, which has a downtown full of character, excellent dining and three nearby mountains beckoning to come out and play.