Black Crater is one of the large peaks in the Central Cascades of Oregon and is situated between Mt. Washington and North Sister. I doubt there are better views of the north side of North Sister. It also stands over the huge McKenzie Pass lava flows. Needless to say the views are incredible from the Three Sisters and Broken Top north to Mt. Hood.
What also stands out about this large cinder cone are the two craters gouged out by Ice Ace glaciers. A large bowl is scooped out of the east side and Black Crater Lake sits in it. The more striking crater is carved out of the north side and provide 500 foot cliffs down into it.
There is a nice trail to the summit that switchbacks up the north side and then traverses the valley that extends from the summit crater. From there it switchbacks up another shoulder to a plateau of black cinders and a 30 foot summit crag. It's also interesting to note that the small weather-beaten pine trees that grow here are of a species that only grow above 6000 feet and in order to survive the winters are so flexible that the limbs can be tied into knots.
From Portland take I-5 south to Salem and pick up Highway 22 (Santiam Highway) east to the town of Sisters. At the near edge of town
, just past the Ray's Food Store and Texaco station, pick up Highway 242 back west. Drive about 10 or 11 miles to a spot in between mileposts 81 and 80 where you will see a sign for the Black Crater Trailhead. The parking lot is not marked but you will see a sign 1/4 mile ahead for it. For reference sake, it is just west of the roadside viewpoint.
If you are coming from the east (Bend), take Highway 22 west to Sisters and pick up 242 in the same spot.
No fees or permits are required to hike but you do need a Northwest Forest Pass
to park at the trailhead.
When To Climb
Mid-July to late October are best but this could be climbed year-round as long as the roads are open. Highway 242 closes down and is gated when the snow comes.
Camping is allowed on the mountain and in the area. Cold Springs Campground
is just a few miles east as well on Highway 242. There are some neat spots on the trail to camp and on the summit and I would think this would make a great summer camping spot.
Mountain ConditionsSisters Ranger District
PO Box 249
Sisters, OR 97759