This delightful loop near Santiam Pass provides good views of Big Lake, the tiny Patjens Lakes, and nearby mountains. In late June and early July, the loop features more blooming bear grass than any other trail in Central Oregon.
Elevation: 4,400 to 4,800 feet
Distance: 6 miles round trip
The Patjens Lake Loop travels along the shore of Big Lake.
The tiny Patjens Lakes were named for Henry Patjens, a Sherman County sheep rancher who grazed his animals here in the late 1800’s.
The seasonal wildflowers on this trail (like this scarlet gilia) are impressive. The best displays usually occur in late June and early July (depending on when the snow melts). Unfortunately, that’s also when the mosquitoes are the worst, so be sure to bring bug spray for you and your horse.
Getting to Patjens Lake Trailhead
From Sisters, drive northwest on Hwy. 20 for 19 miles. Turn left on Road 2690 toward Hoodo Ski Area and Big Lake. Continue toward Big Lake for 3.7 miles. Drive past the first Big Lake Campground and park in the trailhead parking area on the right, just outside the second campground.
You’ll find more information about the Patjens Lake Loop in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.