Monday, September 1, 2014

Easy to Moderate Hike to Benson Lake on the McKenzie River in the Central Oregon Cascades

Where we went and why

Today we went to Benson Lake. It was a three day weekend, so we got in an extra hike. We had talked about going to Tam MacArthur Rim today, bu we woke up late and weren't really in the mood for something that intense. I picked Benson Lake, but then when we got closer, we decided to do Scott Lake. We pulled into the parking lot and then started the hike. As we got closer to the road, we realized that something was just not right.We realized that we were at the Scott Trailhead, but not the Scott Lake Trailhead. Who would have thought that there would be a Scott Trailhead and a Scott Lake Trailhead so close to each other. We got back to the car and went down the correct road. We pulled up next to Scott Lake, but didn't see a path around it. We decided to drive further down to see if there was an official trailhead marker. When we got to the parking lot, we saw the Benson Lake Trailhead and a Trailhead for Hand Lake. We've already been to Hand Lake. We decided to head back to the car to get the poles and do Benson Lake.

How to get there

The hike is on the McKenzie Pass a few miles west of the Dee Wright Observatory around mile marker 70. If you're going from Sisters, it will be on the right hand side. Just make sure you pull into the Scott Lake road and not the Scott Trailhead parking lot. Dodge all of the potholes and cars parked on the side of the road until you get to the end of the road. If you get there early enough, you might even find a parking spot. We got there at 10:30 and there were some. When we left at 1:30, there were none and people were being quite creative with where they parked. 

The Hike

The hike started off going uphill, which is always my favorite. (NOT) It did level off a little bit and even went down a little bit and then we went back up. It leveled out at time, but for the most, we just kept going up until we got to the lake. The trail was wide enough for one of us comfortably. It was packed dirt for the most part. There were times when roots and rocks were in the trail. We also had to be careful to not walk on the frogs crossing the trail. There wasn't much to look at along the trail.

The lake was gorgeous! The water was clear and blue! It was a little windy that day and it had the water a bit rippley. The ripples created a lot of sparklies on the water. It made it even more pretty. The book that we used to find the hike talked about taking a fisherman's trail and then "scrambling" up some rocks to get a view of the mountains. I wanted to see the mountains and hubby was willing to make me happy so we went up there! It was quite the adventure. They weren't kidding when they said scramble up some rocks. I didn't get a picture of what we went up, but I did get a picture of what we went down. Going up involved letting my poles dangle and using my hands to climb. Going down involved sitting on my butt and kind of sliding down. Then there was the accidental slide which didn't end in any injuries which was good. Getting back to the trail involved some bushwacking, but hubby is good at that. He proved himself at Hand Land and again here at Benson Lake.

We went to the lake on September 1, 2014. On the day we went, the first main spot where we could see the lake was closed off for rehabilitation. It wasn't roped off or anything, but there were signs saying not to go down in there. We kept going and passed a couple of green lakes. We then saw a trail that led down to the lake. We followed that and checked out the lake. It was awesome! Once we climbed back up to the main path, we continued on to look for the fisherman's path. The next trail off to the left is what we ended up taking. It was pretty steep going down. We got down to the water and then followed the lake around until we found some rocks to climb up. Good times! We were quite happy to have our poles with us that day.

Once we climbed back down and then back up and to the trail, we went straight back to the car with little picture taking along the way. It was a good day and an awesome hike!  We were under cover most of the hike, but there were some spots where the sun peeked through. I'm glad we had sun screen on! It wasn't too buggy that day, but earlier in the season would probably have mosquitoes everywhere.

Overall Thoughts

I'm 273 pounds and I made it up and back without too much trauma, but I have been working out since January and we go hiking as much as we can. This hike was a bit more challenging due to our off trail experience, but the main hike wasn't that bad. We stopped a few times to catch our breath and I can feel it in my glutes right now, but it wasn't too terribly intense. It's no easy walk in the park though so use your best judgement on your own physical condition. There were bathrooms here, but I'm assuming they were vault toilets. I didn't have to use one so I didn't go inside. I'm not certain if you need the NW Forest Pass, but we put ours up. You are supposed to fill out some information at the trailhead and leave it in a slot on the trailhead sign. 

YouTube Video

If you like the pictures, check out the YouTube video.

BodyMedia Screen Shot

Here is my BodyMedia Screen Shot. Check out all of that activity!


My Runtastic Map is a bit different this time. I can't get it to show up on the website, but I can see it on my phone, so I took screen shots. I'm pretty sure the mileage is off on this one though because the book has it listed as over 3 miles, and we went bushwacking so I think we went farther. MapMyHike didn't work today. (Shocking)


 BackCountry Navigator

No comments:

Post a Comment