We started the 12.5 mile hike from Devils Lake Trail Head. The trail goes past Moraine Lake and Teardrop Pool – Oregon’s highest lake. South Sister is Oregon’s third highest peak. The elevation is 10,358 feet and the elevation gain from the parking lot is 4900 feet. To date this is the hardest hike I have done.
There is a trail that goes all the way to to top, without the need for any technical climbing experience. It is very steep and covered with loose cinders, sand, and pumas. Coming down was more like sliding than walking.
The first part of the hike is through a forest with some awesome rocks. They are huge and unique. At 1.5 miles you will see Moraine Lake from the trail. This is just after leaving the forest while walking along a ridge. The real climb starts just after Moraine Lake. Once you start to ascend, you never stop until you reach the top. About half way up the mountain is Lewis and Clark Glacier that forms Teardrop Pool. This is considered the false summit, but it is a long ways from the top. We stopped here for a break and fed the chipmonks.
From Teardrop Lake the trail goes up through a cinder ridge. This section is very steep and the cinders slide from under foot. They turn from grey to red and the views from this area are truly amazing.
The top has wind blocks built, and they were needed. It was quite windy starting at Teardrop Pool. If you do this climb be sure to bring wind protection. We were here on August 29th and it was 80 degrees at the car and felt like 40 degrees at the top.