(Route Page coming soon)
One of the forgotten or dismissed areas in the Oregon Cascades, especially in the aftermath of the B&B Complex Fire of 2000 is the Eight Lakes Basin region which lies south of Mt. Jefferson, west of Three Fingered Jack and east of a ridge of 6000 foot peaks. The name of the area may be “Eight” Lakes Basin but it is dotted with dozens of lakes, ponds and streams. Prior to the fire, this was a popular hiking, camping and vacation area. Post-apocalypse, it is characterized by big grey and black snags that have now rotted to the point winds continuously knock them over any given day but where there is water and carbon, there will be plants and the area is regenerating.
There are pockets of firs and hemlocks that survived but now flowers, grasses and blueberry bushes are spreading and dominating the area. In ten years, this area might be mostly green again as the seedling firs are popping up as well. What the fire did in taking away the prior greenery, it gave back in allowing views from the forest floor (at least for the time being). Jefferson dominates the northern sky while Three Fingered Jack (and from higher vantage points, the Three Sisters and Mount Washington) takes up the southwestern view. And to the west are three smaller (but closer so they dominate like the others) peaks on a ridge. The southernmost peak is named Green Peak.
The name likely comes from the fact this is (or was more correctly) a forest-covered mountain. While those of similar height in the area tend to have rocky tops, this one does not. The views are still there, for the moment, as the summit area has a mixture of burned snags and some surviving firs. Eventually, this will forest over again and get back to living up to its moniker.
As stated, it sits to the south of Saddle Mountain on the north-south trending ridge that begins near Marion Lake and ends with the south slopes of Green Peak before getting to Duffy Butte. The ridge is characterized by snags and “holes” caused by the roots of the burnt trees rotting underneath. Keep care in this area or you may think you are in quicksand if one of these areas gives way under your feet. To the west of the summit is a pretty blue lake aptly named Green Peak Lake. How original. This is one of the three lakes that form the headwaters of Turpentine Creek.
There are no trails to the summit of Green Peak; you will have to either bushwhack it via its north or south sides. The most straightforward route would be to hike in via Marion Lake and bushwhack to Marion Peak’s summit and drop down on the ridge heading south to scramble up Saddle Mountain and down its other side to hike along the ridge south to Green Peak. One could also bushwhack the south slopes from the Duffy Butte/Red Butte area (see these pages for that info: Duffy Butte, Red Butte) but the trails to access that side would be a much longer hike in.
As stated, views are exceptional (for the next few years at least until it regenerates) with a big in-your-face Jefferson to the north (with Hood off its left side) down the line of Cascade big boys to Diamond Peak in the south. The Western Cascades dominate the views to the west from Tidbits Mountain north through the Iron/Cone/Echo ridge to the Three Pyramids into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness with Battle Axe to Schreiner. Turpentine Peak, pretty much totally scorched by the B&B Complex blaze is just west of Marion with Green Peak Lake between. The contrast of the grey/black burned areas with beautiful turquoise lakes throughout is interesting.
A climb of Green Peak is going to end up being around 14 miles round trip with a large part bushwhacking up the ridge off trail to Marion Peak, going up and over that and then a Class 3 scramble up and over Saddle Mountain. But the views on a clear day would really make it worthwhile. Most people don’t see Three Fingered Jack from this NW perspective and it is really neat to see how the forest is slowly coming back in the wake of the fire.
Getting ThereFrom the west (Portland/Salem) you will take I-5 south to the junction in Salem for Highway 22 (sign says for Detroit). Take Highway 22 east to the town of Marion Forks, OR. In between milepost 66 and 67, turn left (east) onto Road 2255 (Marion Forks Road). Take this road (ignore any forks that aren’t Road 2255) to its end about 6 miles later. The last few miles are on gravel and you can expect the usual potholes and washboard ridges, however, regular passenger cars still make it to the trailhead (just watch some of those potholes). The trailhead is a large parking area with a bathroom. This is a popular area (most people just hike to Marion Lake and camp) but don’t let that stop you, you won’t see many, if any, people after Marion Lake.
If you are coming from Eugene, take Highway 126 east to Highway 20, then Highway 20 east to its junction with Highway 22. Go left (west ) on Highway 22 to the same road in Marion Forks between mileposts 66 and 67.
If you are coming from the east (Bend/ Redmond), take Highway 20 (from Bend) or Highway 126 (from Redmond) west to where those two highways meet to where they meet with Highway 22 and continue on Highway 22 to the same spot mentioned in the above two paragraphs.
Red TapeNorthwest Forest Pass required to park at the trailhead. You also must complete a Wilderness Permit at the box near the trailhead and carry your copy with you. Note that the rangers that frequent the lake for cleanup do check your permits if they run in to you.
CampingYou can camp at natural sites around Marion Lake, no reservations required. This is a popular spot in the summer so be aware if you plan to camp here, you may end up looking around a bit.
There were also spots to camp along the ridge to the summit but there is no water available after the small lily padded pond between the lake and the Marion Mountain lookout site (end of the established trail) until you come to a small pond just before and west of the summit may be snow or iced over into August though).
There is also a campground in Marion Forks.
For the best camping though (except after the annual bug hatch until they die off), I would suggest one of the dozens of lakes that are in the basin between Marion Lake and Red Butte or on the west side of the ridge at Green Peak Lake. You have your choice of spots and perhaps you could scout it out from the summit while you look around. You’ll be able to scramble or bushwhack down from the saddle between Marion Peak and Saddle Mountain or between Saddle and Green Peak (to Saddle’s south) or even from other points on up the ridge. It’s mostly open country right now while the plants start to grow back and visibility is pretty decent in most all directions.
When To ClimbThe trailhead is at about 3500 feet so most years, it is going to be June-July before you can access the trailhead. The summit is 6180 feet so prepare for a snowshoe hike until it melts out. August to October/November should be pretty open.
Mountain ConditionsDetroit Ranger District