Oregon: North Crater to Odell Lake – starting June 28

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July 16th, 2015
By: Dave Brook

I recently completed this section – taking the Oregon Skyline Trail alternative at Windigo Pass. Very few mosquitos in most places and only 2 patches of snow on the trail (gone by now, I’m sure). Overall, this stretch of the PCT is in great condition and because of water drops is not as daunting as it sounds, even for a 12 mile a day section hiker.

There was water being delivered to the North Crater trailhead (only 1/2 mile off the PCT). As reported on the Half Mile maps, the first water was at Theilsen Creek. Since this is a popular overnight, if the campsites along the PCT are occupied, just hike 1/4 mile down the Thielsen Creek trail and there are many more, nicer ones, along the creek

I was doing 12 mile days so chose Maidu Lake. Already warm and it has a firm bottom so is very nice for swimming. The abandoned trail that contours back up the PCT was easy to find but got sketchy higher up. Nevertheless, even if you bushwhack, you’ll come to the PCT.

Lots of water being cached at Windigo Pass. The guidebooks are confusing about finding the Oregon Skyline trail (to Nip & Tuck and other lakes) – just walk down the road 1/2 mile and the trailhead is clearly signed. It’s beyond the first cleared area you come to. Nip and Tuck lake on the OST was also nice swimming.

Getting through the Crescent Lake area over to the Whitefish horse camp area was VERY confusing. Somehow I missed the cutoff and ended on the road. I finally got back to the trail which paralleled the road, but even this trail was confusing and I eventually just walked along the road and into the camp. There are water spigots everywhere in the Whitefish equestrian campground and the trailhead to Odell Lake via Diamond View Lake is at the back of the loop at the top of the camp (keep left). Diamond View Lake was also great swimming. I really enjoyed talking with the volunteer trail crew from Eugene that was removing a number of large trees that had fallen over the trail down to Odell Lake.

The store at Shelter Cove has showers ($1.50; bring your own towel and soap). The only prepared food available is pizza and hot dogs/bratwurst. Follow the instructions for getting back on the PCT as walking the road up to highway 58 isn’t very inspiring.