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Hike the Peterson Ridge Loop trail.

Peterson Ridge Loop

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Distance: 7.75 miles

Elevation Gain: 360 feet.

The Peterson Ridge Trail network is primarily a series of mountain bike trails just south of Sisters, with a few horse trails thrown in for some good measure. However, if you are looking for an off-season hike, you can find yourself a nice trail and likely only experience a few other hikers.

Peterson Ridge can be accessed through a variety of different points. The most obvious of those is the Peterson Ridge trailhead located just south of Sisters. However, these being designed as mountain bike trails, you would find yourself strolling through at 8 miles of featureless, flat, ponderosa pine forest that you don’t’ need to. To access the upper loop portion of the trail, head up Forest Road 16 towards Three Creek Lake and park at the Whychus Creek Overlook Trailhead. Right across the road is the upper access point to Peterson Ridge.

Right after crossing over the Three Creek Lake Road, you will come to a kiosk with a map of the area. Keep heading a little further to reach the first junction. Make a left and head down PRT West. The trail follows the road for a little bit, but then you will notice the road start to drop away while you stay up high. There are some cool rock formations along the rim of the ridge and you will start getting some views of the mountains. Its about a mile from the junction to the Peak View Overlook where you can check out some awesome views ranging from South Sister all the way to Mt Jefferson.

At the overlook, there are a number of different trail option. If you are in the mood for just a short loop, you can make a right on the top rung trail for a walk through the woods. You would reach the PRT East in about a mile where you could make a left and return to the trailhead in about ¾ of a mile. Alternately, there is a trail that dives over the head of the ridge and switchbacks down to the lower parking area for the Whychus Creek Trail. The trail is very steep and rocky, so keep that in mind, but from there, you could head up the Whychus Creek trail and connect back up with the Whychus Overlook trail and return to the trailhead that way. Or, you can continue along the Peterson Ridge. Because that is the name of this hike, that’s what we are going to do.

The trail continues to follow along the rim of the ridge. The trees can be thick at times, so take the views when you can get them. You will pass by a few other trail junctions on your way to the Peterson Ridge Overlook and even crosses a forest road. Just keep on trekking and enjoying the views and you will reach the overlook about 2.5 miles from the Peak View viewpoint. There is a picnic table and hitching pose here, if you want to sit, grab some lunch, or tie someone up. There is a rock outcrop jutting away from the ridge and this is where you will find the best views. It requires a little scrambling and doesn’t really have a great place to stand or sit, but the views, especially of the Three Sisters, are awesome.

Once you’ve had enough of the views, make a right past the hitching post and table and head down the Turkey Hollow Trail. This short trail is only about a quarter mile long until you reach the junction with PRT East. Make another right and start looping back to the trailhead. This trail is primarily used as a mountain bike route, and the single track really like to weave through the trees. Even though bikers are supposed to yield to hikers, because this is mostly a mountain bike trail, its much easier if you step aside if you see them coming. Be a good trail neighbor.

The remaining part of the loop is primarily a walk through the forest. You will come to the edge of the southern side of the rim though, offering you some different views towards bend and the Skyline Forest area. There are also more cool rock formations hidden throughout the forest, with one particularly big dome situated right along the edge of the ridge. It another 3.75 miles of gentle uphill, so just take your time and enjoy the fresh air.

Directions

To reach the Whychus Creek Scenic Overlook Trailhead, head south on Elm Street off of Highway 20 in Sisters. Continue for 5.3 miles and the trailhead will be on your right. The Peterson Ridge Trail is across Three Creek Road from the parking area.

Things to Know

Passes: No passes are required.

Dogs: Allowed and must be on least or under voice command at all times.

Usage: Moderate

Open Season: Open and accessible all year. The trail can get hot and dusty in the summer and may be covered in snow or will be muddy or icy at times in the winter. You will also encounter more mixed users, like mountain bikers and horses, from around Apil til November.

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Today
41° / 63° F
Wednesday
47° / 78° F
Thursday
52° / 81° F
Friday
51° / 85° F
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