- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

SISTERS, Ore. (AP) - The wind blew cold across the jagged lava-rock ridge as Cascade peaks rose into the sky in nearly every direction.

North and Middle Sister were so close I could make out details of the snow on the glaciers that cover their west faces.

The long day hike to Four-In-One Cone near McKenzie Pass is not only a challenging workout with rewarding views, but it also offers intriguing lessons in both history and geology.

The Scott Trail from state Highway 242 to Four-In-One Cone - a row of four cinder cones in the Three Sisters Wilderness - follows the original path of pioneer Captain Felix Scott.

Prominent Oregon hiking author William Sullivan offers details of Scott’s adventures in a recent piece on the Scott Trail. In 1862, according to Sullivan, Scott blazed a wagon road across the Cascades near McKenzie Pass to sell Willamette Valley cattle to wealthy miners east of the mountains. Today his route remains as the mostly singletrack path to Four-In-One-Cone, Sullivan notes.

I made the 45-mile, hour-long drive from Bend to the Scott Trailhead just a few miles past the Dee Wright Observatory on a cool, sunny morning.

The trailhead is located on the north side of the highway and is a starting point for hikes to Scott Lake, Benson Lake and Scott Mountain to the northwest. But cross the highway immediately from the trailhead, and hikers can begin the trek east to Four-In-One Cone. (The more renowned Obsidian Trail just to the south is a limited-entry area that requires reservations and a parking permit.)

The trail starts deep in an alpine forest, and I followed switchbacks along the pristine ribbon of dirt. The path was rarely steep, but I could feel the effects of the steady elevation gain.

About one hour and nearly 3 miles into the hike, the terrain changes drastically from a dirt path through the forest to a rocky trail through basalt flows. The path then becomes more sandy as it follows the edge of a lava rock wall. North and Middle Sister pop into view there but then disappear behind the rocks until hikers reach Four-In-One Cone.

I made it there in about two hours, making a left at a junction to ascend the highest point of the cone, at 6,258 feet. The trail at the top of the jagged-rock ridge follows the rim of the four cones, which spew four separate lava flows to the west. It’s a fairly steep drop-off from the trail to the sea of lava rock below.

Aside from the breathtaking views of North and Middle Sister to the south, from atop the cone I could also see Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack and Mount Washington to the north. To the west were the endless rugged tree-covered hills of the western slope of the Cascades.

I continued to explore the trail atop the ridge, but the wind grew so cold and intense that after 10 minutes or so I was ready to descend.

About a mile east of the Four-In-One Cone, the Scott Trail connects to the Pacific Crest Trail. I was tempted to continue to that junction, which features a lupine-dotted meadow, according to Sullivan, but after more than 4 miles, I was ready to head back.

The hike back to the trailhead seemed to take longer - as it often does on such outings - but I made it back in two hours for a round-trip total of about 8½ miles in four hours.

If hiked northwest from the trailhead, the Scott Trail leads to the summit of 6,116-foot Scott Mountain. This hike also offers spectacular glimpses of Cascade peaks, but it does not lead hikers as close to North and Middle Sister as the Four-In-One Cone trip.

The Scott Trail is one of many in the McKenzie Pass area that allow hikers to get up close and personal with Cascade peaks without the exhausting inconvenience of, you know, climbing to the top of them.

Scott Trail to Four-In-One Cone

To reach the Scott Trailhead from Bend, drive to Sisters, then head 16.1 miles west on state Highway 242 to the Scott Lake Road FS 260. Turn right and park at the first trailhead. (About a one-hour drive from Bend.) Cross the highway to find the trail. After 0.2 miles, stay left at a junction to the Obsidian Trail. Trail features deep forest, lava rock and a quick scramble to the lava-rock-covered Four-In-One Cone. Round-trip total is about 8½ miles.

___

The original story can be found on The Bulletin’s website: https://bit.ly/1tyKM1I

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide