The Iconic Hiking Trail In Oregon That Will Transport You To Another World

by | May 27, 2024 | Adventures, Bend, Central Oregon, Featured, Forest Bathing, Hiking, Interesting, Travel, Waterfalls

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The gentle sound of icy water rushing down stream as it winds it's way through the trees, wind passing through branches, and lapping water at the lake's edge. Shady green forest, lava flows, gorgeous mountain views, waterfalls, and meadows. All of these things are waiting for you on the Green Lakes Trail in central Oregon. There are a lot of stunning places to hike near Bend, but this is a local favorite, and brings people in from all over the state to hike year after year.

The Green Lakes Trail In Central Oregon

A wooden sign pointing the direction to the Green lakes Trail.
Photo by Joel Olivares via Google Local

Just 27 miles west of Bend is where you'll find the trailhead to Green Lakes, as well as the Soda Lakes Trailhead. Two trails leave the parking area, so be sure to get onto the Green Lakes trail and not the Soda Creek Trail (though both trails offer up amazing hikes).

The trail going uphill above the creek. On the left side, there are trees and low shrubs. The creek is on the right side along with a a mountain and rocks from an old lava flow. You can see a mountain peak in the distance.
Photo by Michelle Hogarth via Google Local.

The Green Lakes Trail will lead you north, and follow Falls Creek to Green Lakes. It passes between Broken Top and South Sister, offering stunning up close views of both mountains, and then at the pass the trail turns from Green Lake Trail #17 into Green Lakes Trail #4070.

A low, rushing waterfall that is about five feet high on the creek.
Photo by Boris gurman via Google Local

Along the way you can expect to cross over Falls Creek, and also to see several small but pretty waterfalls. Go early in the season to see rushing water in the falls.

The trail is 9.1 miles out and back and should take at least four hours to complete. It's considered moderately challenging (more so if you choose to hike it in the snow).

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The best time to hike this trail is between June and October each year, though many people hike it at other times of year when there's snow on the trail. When hiking in snowy or rainy conditions, the trail can be slippery and dangerous.

A very straight, shallow river lined with bright yellow bushes and pine trees in the fall.
Fall can be a great time of year to hike the Green Lakes Trail! Hikers during this time of year enjoy the fall foliage along some parts of the trail. Photo by Joel Olivares via Google Local.

Can I take my dog on the Green Lakes Trail? Yes, but from July 15th to September 15th, dogs must be kept on a leash unless swimming in the water.

Two trees frame this photograph of a little mountain lake with clear, green water and hills in the background.
Photo by Jake Ortman via Google Local.

What is the most difficult part of this hike? Many consider the most difficult climb on the trail to be the last mile to the lake.

For a detailed account of the trail itself, we recommend checking out this link.

What You Need To Know About Hiking The Green Lakes Trail

Wilderness restrictions apply along this trail and in the area. You can read more about those restrictions here.

A snow covered peak sits behind a mountain lake. There are pink flowers and grasses right in front of the camera.
Photo via Sofia Elizondo via Google Local.

There is a vault toilet at the trailhead, but no bathrooms along the trail. You'll need to plan accordingly.

A Forest Service map of the Green Lakes Trail.
Photo via the Forest Service website.

What should I take on my hike of the Green Lakes Trail? We highly recommend wearing a hat and sunglasses along with sunscreen. While some areas of the trail are shaded, many areas are wide open with no shade available. There is no water available at the trailhead. Bring plenty of water for your hike, and keep extra water at your vehicle for the way home. You should also bring some healthy snacks or a meal to eat along the way. Bug spray is essential to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

A log going over the creek. There is a railing on one side of the log to make it useful as a bridge.
Photo by Andrew Jane via Google Local.

Do I need a wilderness permit just to hike the Green Lakes Trail? Yes, you'll need a wilderness permit for either day use or overnight stays. Get your wilderness permit here. You'll also need a recreation pass to park at the trailhead. You can get your recreation pass here. You need both a wilderness permit and a recreation pass.

A log across the creek. There's a little grassy meadow and a pine tree forest.
Photo by Boris Gurman via Google Local.

Read more about the Green Lakes Trail from the Forest Service website.


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Written By Jessica Tomlinson

Jessica Tomlinson is a native Oregonian currently living in Southern Oregon. She has been blogging since 2006. She loves nature, photography, hiking, camping, and exploring Oregon's wilds.

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