If you enjoy fabulous scenery and you are up for a long ride, the trail to Linton Meadows is an absolute stunner! This 24-mile round trip treats you to a dazzling display of Central Oregon’s iconic high-country landmarks. You’ll ride across Wickiup Plain, beneath LeConte Crater and Rock Mesa, and past the historic James Creek Shelter. You’ll pass South Sister, Middle Sister, The Wife, The Husband, Husband Lake, and Eileen Lake. (We joked that Eileen must be a friend of the family.)
The ride begins at the Wickiup Plains Trailhead at Devils Lake in the Cascade Lakes District west of Bend. It heads north along the western base of the Three Sisters, ending in a 3.4-mile lollipop loop through Linton Meadows.
We did the ride in mid-September, when the huckleberries were scarlet, the skies were blue, and the snow was all but gone from the mountain peaks. But riding this trail in mid-summer when wildflowers are blooming would be equally glorious. Either way, this is a ride you’ll definitely want to do on a clear day, because the views are breathtaking.
Ride Directions: Pick up the Wickiup Plains Trail #12.1 and follow it for 0.9 mile, then at the junction with the Elk-Devils Trail #12 turn right to stay on the Wickiup Plains Trail. In 1.1 mile turn right on the Moraine Lake Trail #17.1. Follow it 0.5 mile and when the Moraine Lake Trail veers to the right, go left on the LeConte Crater Trail #12.3.
Here you’ll begin traveling across Wickiup Plain. On your right you’ll see the tree-covered LeConte Crater and the bare Rock Mesa, a huge jumbled mass of obsidian. You’ll also get some nice views of South Sister, and on your left you’ll see The Wife, a butte topped with a rock pinnacle. After 1.3 miles you’ll reach the PCT. Turn right on it and continue for 2.7 miles, during which you’ll continue across Wickiup Plain, then re-enter the forest and cross two forks of Mesa Creek.
When you reach the junction with the James Creek Trail #3546, turn left on it and continue 1.1 miles to the historic James Creek Shelter, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. About 0.2 miles later, the Separation Creek Trail #3524 goes off to the left. Go straight on the Linton Meadows Trail #3547 and follow it for 1.3 miles, enjoying the view of Middle Sister along the way. You’ll reach an X-shaped junction where the Foley Ridge Trail #3511 comes in from behind you from the left and goes off to the right before you, so you’ll be facing a Y intersection. Veer left to stay on the Linton Meadows Trail.
At a junction in 0.4 mile, you can make a loop through Linton Meadows by turning left on the Eileen Lake Trail #3548. You’ll ride along the base of The Husband butte, and in 0.6 mile you’ll reach Husband Lake. In 1 mile after that you’ll arrive at Eileen Lake. After enjoying the views of Middle and South Sister over the lake, continue on the trail through Linton Meadows for 0.9 mile, to where the Eileen Lake Trail intersects the Linton Meadows Trail. Turn right here and in 0.9 mile you’ll arrive back at the junction where your loop began. Veer left and retrace your steps to return to your trailer.
Ride Statistics: This is a 24-mile out-and-back ride. Elevations range from 5,300 to 6,300 feet, with a total elevation gain/loss of 3,475 feet, but all elevation changes are gradual. Stock water is available on the trail. Hoof protection is recommended. The best maps of the trail are Adventure Map’s Central Oregon Hiking-Trail Map and the Forest Service’s Three Sisters Wilderness Map.
Getting to Wickiup Plains Trailhead: From Bend, drive west on Hwy. 46 (Cascade Lakes Hwy.) for 28 miles. Just past Devils Lake, turn left into the trailhead.
Trailhead Facilities: Toilet and parking for 10-12 trailers. Separate parking areas for cars and trailers. Northwest Forest Pass required.