Grizzly Peak offers one of the most stunning views of Mt Jefferson possible and the route to reach the peak has plenty of interesting attractions along the way. The hike begins from the Pamelia Lake trailhead. This is a limited entry area and you will need to secure a pass, in addition to the Northwest Forest pass, before hiking here.
The first 2.2 miles of the trail travel through a lush forest setting along the banks of Pamelia Creek. The landscape of this section of trail was dramatically altered in November of 2006 when unseasonably warm and wet weather brought the collapse of a snow field on Milk Creek which led to a large debris flow down that creek and into Pamelia Creek. Most of the valley flow was buried in 2-3 feet of mud and rock. Much of the evidence of this flood has now receded into the background, and other things, such as spring wildflowers will draw your attention.
After a fairly easy 2.2 miles along Pamelia Creek, you will reach a trail junction. The left junction will take you up to the Pacific Crest Trail and the right will take you to Grizzly Peak. Before you continue on your way, however, power through for a couple hundred yards straight ahead to reach Pamelia Lake. The view from the right shore of the lake towards Jefferson is truly spectacular. Swimming isn’t recommended, however, due to algae blooms. Plus the lake just looks kind of muddy and stagnant.
Once you’ve finished hanging out at the lake, head back to the trail junction and turn towards Grizzly Peak. The trail climbs steadily, gaining about 1,900 feet in the next three miles. After a mile, you will come to a nice spring/waterfall (depending on the time of year) along the side of the trail. A little over a mile past this, you will reach the ridgeline of Grizzly Peak and a nice view over Pamelia Lake to Jefferson. The final ¾ of a mile travel up the north ridge of the peak, before traversing over to the west ridge and then up to the summit. Views open up on this final push as Three Fingered Jack and the Three Sisters come into view. The views of Jefferson from the summit are magical and a welcome reward for your efforts.
The Pamelia Lake trailhead is located off of Highway 22, eight miles west of Idanha or 31 miles north of Santiam Junction. Take Pamelia Road west about 5 miles to the end of the road. The road is paved, but narrow, for most of the length with the last mile or two gravel, but in good condition.
Passes: A Central Cascades Wilderness Permit is required to access this area between June 15th and October 15th. The permits will be available from recreation.gov and will go on sale in early April. A Northwest Forest Pass is also required to park at this trailhead.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: The relatively low elevation of the Pamelia Lake trailhead means early access, usually around May. However, snow will likely linger on the higher elevations of Grizzly Peak into July.
Bugs: Mosquitos can be bad during the melt season, usually June-July, then will mostly clear up moving into August.
Flowers: May and June tend to be the best months.
Pamelia Lake: The lake frequently suffers from algae blooms, making the water unsafe for drinking, fishing, and swimming.