Golden Lake Day Hike

13.1 miles

Starting at the Park Meadows Trailhead, Golden Lake is a 13-mile out-and-back featuring a lake, a waterfall, and views of Oregon's central cascades.

If you're backpacking this trail, remember to reserve an overnight permit in the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System. A permit is not required for Day Hikers.
Broken Top and Ridge, Oregon.

Golden Lake from Park Meadows

From the town of Sisters, follow the Three Creeks Lake Road/NF-16 to Park Meadows Trailhead The trailhead is not much more than a pull-off on the gravel road with limited parking. I found the road to be in good condition as of 2022, and suitable for compact passenger vehicles.

The beginning of this trail traverses a severely burned area, that has been slow to recover. You may spot patches of wildflowers in the burn, including Lupine or Fireweed. By summer, this section of the trail becomes hot and dusty, the only reprieve being stream crossings at Snow Creek, Whychus Creek, and the East Fork Park Creek - all of which are great spots to refill your water and cool down.

Burned area on Park Creek Meadows Trail, Oregon.
Shortly after you cross the East Fork Park Creek, you'll be past most of the burn and enter a thin forest. Early in the season, this section can be infested by mosquitoes, so come prepared with bug spray and/or suitable clothing to keep the bugs off you.

From the East Fork Park Creek crossing, it's approximately 1.1 miles to the Golden Lake trail junction. The trail to the lake will be on your left and is most likely unmarked, but difficult to miss. Head 0.5 miles down the Golden Lake trail, and you'll arrive at the lake. Broken Top rises impressively behind Golden Lake, and a wide meadow fills the shoreline. You'll most likely want to take a rest here, have lunch, and take a dip in the lake.
Golden Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon.

Extending the Hike

If you haven't had enough by the time you've reached Golden Lake, you're in luck - there are a couple options to further your trip!

The first option is straightforward: After you've had your fill of Golden Lake, return to the Green Lakes trail and continue uphill. After 0.5 miles of climbing on the Green Lakes Trail, you'll arrive at a viewpoint of the South, Middle, and North Sister mountains. Past this point, the trail rapidly descends to Green Lakes some 650 feet below.

For the more extreme hikers, a small user trail begins on the south side of the Golden Lake's meadow, quickly turning into a scramble on the far side of the lake. This unmaintained trail reaches two small lakes on the flank of Broken Top after about 1 mile. I only recommend attempting this side trail if you are a strong hiker who has no difficulty with harsh terrain.

Happy Trails!

Golden Lake, Oregon.
Broken Top North Aspect, Oregon.

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Heart Rock at Joshua Tree
Thanks for visiting our travel blog, Trails And Trekking! We're Lauren and Anders - an adventure loving couple currently stationed in the Pacific Northwest. We're avid hikers, backpackers, and travelers. We're both originally from Oregon, but we've spent the last two years traveling the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We created this blog to share our passion for exploring the outdoors, and to inspire you to get outside.