Pamelia Lake is located is a classic U-shaped glacial valley carved out by Mt Jefferson’s glaciers thousands of years ago. Following the glacial retreat, a landslide blocked Hunts Creek, forming beautiful Pamelia Lake. Because of the relative ease of this hike and the beautiful surroundings, Pamelia was nearly loved to death until the Forest Service put in place a permit system in the mid 90s. Thus, it is now a limited entry area and you will need to secure a pass, in addition to the Northwest Forest pass, before hiking in this area.
The 2.2 miles of the trail travel through a lush forest setting along the banks of Pamelia Creek. The landscape of the trail was dramatically altered in November of 2006 when unseasonably warm and wet weather brought the collapse of a snow field on Milk Creek. This led to a large debris flow down that creek and into Pamelia Creek, burying most of the valley floor 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.
Although the trail climbs steadily toward the lake, it is relatively constant and fairly easy. Right before reaching the lake, you will encounter a 4-way intersection. The left trail will head towards the east side of the lake or up to the Pacific Crest Trail and the right will take you up Grizzly Peak. Head straight ahead and power through for a couple hundred yards to reach the shores of Pamelia Lake. The view from the right shore of the lake towards Jefferson is one to remember. Swimming isn’t recommended however due to algae blooms plus the lake just looks kind of muddy and stagnant.
The Pamelia 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 being 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. Snow may linger for longer as you ascend toward lake.
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.