Green Lakes Backpacking

9-10 miles out-and-back
1,600 feet
Summer through fall
Central Cascades Overnight Permit, Northwest Forest Pass
Three Sisters Wilderness signSouth Sister from Green Lakes
Green Lakes is a classic, popular Central Oregon hike that's nestled in the heart of the Three Sisters Wilderness. This is one of my favorite to backpacking trails in all of Oregon, for stunning mountain views and pristine alpine lakes.

The mountains of South Sister and Broken Top are especially prominent from Green Lakes, with the three lakes providing excellent swimming, and productive fishing from the largest lake.
Lauren at Green Lakes

Getting There and Parking

The Green Lakes trailhead is just off Cascade Lakes highway, a beautiful 30-minute drive from Bend, Oregon. Wildnerness permits are required here, so make sure to read up the current permit information before heading out. The upside of the permit system is that you'll find the trail less crowded, and should have no issues with parking at any time of the day.

Hike Details

Green Lakes is a moderate, uphill backpack that follows a creek and ends at a breathtaking lake basin. On the way you'll cross small streams, and see the beautiful tumbling cascades of Fall Creek. You'll pass a couple trail junctions on the way up: at each junction, stay on the clearly marked Green Lakes Trail.
As you reach the upper section of the trail, South Sister and Broken Top mountains come into view, towering above both sides of the trail. The two mountains ring the lake basin, creating beautiful sunsets as fading light plays along the mountain slopes.
Light fading against Broken Top
The Green Lakes camping area is in a relatively flat basin, with 22 designated camping areas scattered around the three lakes. If you find that all sites are occupied when you arrive, consider asking someone to share their site - most will happily agree to share.

Note that you are likely to encounter persistent mosquitoes here from June through August. Bringing mosquito resistent clothing and/or bug repellent is highly recommended for an enjoyable experience!
Overlooking South Sister from Green Lakes

Permit Info

Day hikers and backpackers at Green Lakes are required to carry a Overnight Permit or Day Use Ticket at all times in the Three Sisters wilderness. Permits must be purchased online prior to the date of your trip.

The Three Sisters permit season runs from June 15th to October 15th, becoming highly competitive during peak summer months. 40% of overnight permits are released on April 4th, at 7AM PDT , and another 60% are released on a 7-day rolling window from June through October. Day use permits are additionally released on 10-day and 2-day rolling windows, allowing the possibility of snagging a permit shortly before a day trip.

All permits are reservable on a first-come, first-served basis. To increase your odds of getting a permit, log into recreation.gov by 7AM the week before you want to backpack, and select your desired trailhead as soon as it becomes available. Permits sell out quickly for popular trailheads!

You may hike without a permit before June 15th or after October 15th, but please be prepared for the possibly of deep snow and difficult or dangerous weather conditions.
Fall Creek near the Green Lakes trailhead

What to Pack



Goat Lake Campsite

Camp Kitchen

Oatmeal at Ramona Falls


Backpacking near Jade Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness


Backpacking the Timberline Trail on Mt. Hood


Still have questions? Send me a message over email to connect. Happy Trails!
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About Us

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.