Park Meadow/Golden Lake
August 25, 2005
The Park Meadow Trailhead is off Three Lakes Road 15 miles south of Sisters. It is a 2½ to 3 hour, 125-mile drive from Eugene. The future trailhead on Forest Road 16 referenced by Sullivan in his ’98 Guide still has not been developed. So the last 1.2 miles to the trailhead remain a rough but manageable road.
The sky was bright blue with temperatures which seemed to rise no higher than 80, a truly perfect day for hiking. The first 2.7 miles of the Trail proceed through a pine forest that gives way to a fir/hemlock forest. The trail is dusty due to heavy horse traffic, but relatively flat as the meadow is 200 ft. lower than the trailhead. Snow, Squaw, and Park Creeks are still running full but provide easy log crossings. Clark marks the eastern boundary of the massive, beautiful, Park Meadow.
After crossing the meadow, and merging with the Green Lakes Trail, which comes in from Pole Creek to the north, the trail climbs 400 ft. in a mile through the woods to the unsigned Golden Lakes Trail. This trailhead proved easy to find if one follows Sullivan’s directions closely. In 1998 Sullivan stated, “Only experienced hikers with map and compass skills should attempt to continue to Golden Lake”. This is no longer true. The level trail is now well defined as it proceeds .7 mile to the lake. Broken Top looms overhead as one proceeds, with the Sisters behind you and to the west. Golden Lake itself is simply a breathtakingly beautiful alpine lake. As Rich said, “Why haven’t I been here before—this is beautiful!”
After lunch we elected to continue our adventure with a “bonus” option. Two very attractive mountain tarns rest 500 ft. and 9/10 mile above the lake. They are accessed by following the beautiful alpine stream, which flows out of them into Golden Lake below. They, again, are very beautiful, enhancing our experience even more. One could almost reach out and touch broken Top from the tarns. In addition, by climbing on to the rocks above the tarns, we could see the Cascade Peaks to the north as far as Hood, except Washington, which seemed to be hidden by the Sisters.
It was five before we returned to the trailhead. But we all agreed the scenery was well worth the long day. At that point we didn’t yet know how long the day was going to be. On the way home, Rich’s SUV broke down on the Santiam Pass. One and one half hours later, AAA arrived to tow us back to Eugene. So it was after 10 before we returned to the S. Eugene parking lot. This was not a planned part of the experience!
Participants were Jessica Bandstra, Dan Christensen (leader), Jim Fritz and Rich Romm.