|Upper Twin Lake|
|Lower Twin Lake|
Perfect for families, beginning backpackers, and energetic dayhikers, this exceptional hike is only about an hour from the busy streets of Portland. Of course, the only problem with it is that you weren't the first to notice it. For a more peaceful wilderness experience try going during the week, or during the "shoulder season." Don't let its popularity deter you in any case; it is a beautiful hike and well worth the effort even on a busy weekend.
The 3.5-mile (one way) lake hike begins on the Pacific Crest Trail near the restroom. Walk under a thick forest canopy of firs and hemlocks, climbing gradually on the wide, well-maintained trail until you near the top of a ridge and find Twin Lakes Trail #495. Drop down to Lower Twin on your right. It is possible to walk all the way around this, the larger of the two lakes, and weekday (or just lucky) hikers may well score a camp site beside the water. Continue on the main trail, which is now a bit steeper and narrower but never difficult. Upon reaching Upper Twin, take the trail to the right for a view of Mt. Hood over the lake. This lake is also popular but tends to be quieter than Lower Twin. Follow the path along the shore to find several delightful camp sites under the trees. Please note that these lakes are also popular with wildlife; be prepared to hang your food or use a canister just to be safe.
|Trail #482, the "official" route|
Whichever route you have taken, you are now travelling along a treed ridge; notice an occasional lodgepole pine and even a few noble firs. Watch for a dry meadow on your left with abundant wildflowers and alpine strawberries in season. Now drop down to Palmateer Creek, a much better water source than the lakes. This creek originates in the marshy meadow to your left. Sharp eyes may find a few peaceful camp sites along this part of the route. Rise out of the creek bottom and take a spur trail to your right. Climb about a third of a mile to Palmateer Point; this part of the trail is a study in alpine rock gardens, with mariposa lilies, penstemons, and junipers taking center stage. Plan to spend some time on the point relaxing and taking pictures. Of course, snowy Mt. Hood rises to the north. The ridge to the right of it is Barlow Butte. The steep little valley below holds a piece of Oregon's history: the Barlow Road, where wagon trains passed on the last leg of their journey to the fertile Willamette Valley. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the high desert the weary pioneers had just passed through; hidden in the trees to the west lies their final trial, precipitous Laurel Hill.
Return to the main trail and retrace the pleasant path to the lakes. There is also another option for dayhikers: instead of returning to the lakes, turn right on the main trail and make a loop using the PCT (there is also a side trail from here that drops down to the Barlow Road, meeting up with it near Devil's Half Acre Meadow).
|Queen's Cup Lily|
|Trail above Lower Twin (lake barely visible between trees)|
|Upper Twin with Mt. Hood|
|Meadow near Palmateer Creek|
|Palmateer Creek flows from this wet meadow|
|Summit of Palmateer Point|
|View over the Barlow Valley toward central Oregon|
|See you on the mountain!|